Sculpture: forging   GLOSSARY  & POLICIES


visceral cognition (def. by JG)  an art work that demonstrates a profound anonymity has visceral cognition, an aesthetic affect that we all share, an active dialog with collective unconscious.  It produces a physiological effect, a distinct sensation, and a barrage of impulses that fire across the synapses. I stood beside Tilted Arc, by Richard Serra, I experienced a cognitive sensation of wonder. I suspect that a functional MRI machine could verify the physiological effect for anyone in the presence of this piece for the first time.” More examples according to myself: the Sagrata Familia by Gaudi, Water Lilies by Matisse, The Wall by Mia Lynn, Attention Star by myself, James Garvey.

form-idea     (def. by JG)  my interest is ignited by a challenge, I concentrate my attention in order to conceive something that resonates with appropriateness. I am groping through my subconscious, sorting through every impression since birth. I am informed by my total experience in this medium. I am seeking an idea that transcends every interpretation of form leading up to this point in time. The hooks exercise is a vehicle for the search; the new expertise gives me means to go ‘off campus’ and visit the “cutting edge” that Kandinsky refers to in the world of new work. I can let an impulse billow in my mind. I can formulate and then make an aesthetic impact that is unprecedented. I can conceive a vein of objective art works, a series that has vitality that is readily understood to be as valuable as gold nuggets from a prospectors pan. Note, the last nine terms in this list can be useful to sort out weak form-ideas.

prospecting      using visualization, I commit my attention to imagine an unprecedented form, a form-idea. Every recorded memory is receiving the attention of my current interest.

sketching       is a digestive process for my impressions, a conversation with a unique attention inside me.  Each new form-idea that I sketch is a time sensitive opportunity to respect my current interest.

primal observation     I can learn precise expertise with a single glance of an experienced smith in motion. I use intense focus to flesh out the choreography of physical action. In my mind there is a brief video; I use the ‘vitality of not knowing’ to move beyond awkwardness as the task is underway; I practice and repeat, repeat, repeat. I invite this visualization to be continually refined ahead of the action.

in-process      I am applying expertise to interpret my form-idea. I continually measure visceral cognition. I rate my interest level on a scale of 1 - 10. I can “taste” either confirmation or, compromise; I do not hesitate to use ingenuity to refine the approach in order to keep from diluting visceral cognition

arche-form     def. by JG an internal image akin to an object that I picture in a dream; I can call it up during waking state and examine all the surfaces and zoom in on details. It can be an unrealized, creative form; or, it can be an object I saw and recorded in my memory.

freehand forming     In accordance with my experience and with the conditions at hand, I devise rudimentary conditions that enable me to have manual control as the material is being shaped;  I am creating a form that resonates with the visualization.

taking a heat      a component may take as many as forty heats. During each heat, a visualization of incremental change is being continually updated as I work to hammer out my form-idea.

by-eye       I only use measurement tools to set the boundary; my attention can instantly determine proportions and alignment. I am continually measuring resonance within the composition.

full-scale      I only use a full scale mock-up to study potential changes. I consider affect of physical presence that I infer from the work.

negative space     I lay out existing components and sketch the negative space area to understand weakness in the composition.

anti-overwrought     when the canary stops singing, then it is a gamble to proceed.

Medieval poise there is no arc in the trajectory of the hammer swing. On the face of anvil, I let gravity pull the hammer straight down. If it is an angle, I visualize a straight line of impact that my body conforms to. When the action is smooth, I accelerate the force from the muscles in the small of my back. I have upright spine; my lips are touching; and my jaw is relaxed.

pip impression        I position the work at its’ place in-process, a place free from visual chaos where it can be seen and where it can remain until I return. I take a snapshot and review quality of expertise; then, I formulate and record my response,  “Considering my work today, does it continue to resonate with the visualization of the original form-idea?

stalled     I do nothing if the impression has become weak; I do not inflate visceral cognition.

osmosis       my current understanding is being informed by every related task in my history. I am an active participant being observed by this history. I cannot avoid the effect that it has; my active interest is generating unprecedented insight.

apparitions      I only use new form-ideas arising from a current interest; I remain passive to the insidious form-ideas that haunt me.

existing work    I do not look at images or existing forms in this medium; all renowned form is like flirting with an interloper.

“happenings”       if I wish to move on instantly, I can move to California and pursue form-ideas that use pure process art such as, twisting a bar until it breaks. 

morphing       Often I become inclined to redefine the form-idea, it indicates that my choice was premature.

self therapy      I identify subjective therapeutic form-ideas such as: anger/power objects;  carnal angst objects. I consider discretion before sharing these ideas because they are a personal disclosure.

hysterical/religious     I ignore the impulse to realize form-ideas that are symbols for spiritual, esoteric, enchanted experiences such as: wreath of thorns, or lotus blossom of clairvoyance.

technical struggle       I avoid unreasonable form-ideas that oblige me to learn complex expertise such as heat treatment or forge welding.

multiple components       I am cautious of form-ideas that have moving parts; these tend to absorb enormous design development.

‘me too’ free      I remain an outsider to form-ideas that represent trends or graphic cliché: hearts, smiling faces, treble clef…


forge platform POLICIES 


tools     forging tools, tongs, and hammers are stored in canvas bags; laid out on a long wooden plank for each session; regular handling keeps the tools from becoming rusty and it expands the vocabulary in the mind.

forge attire     students are urged to wear safety glasses and heat resistant garments: gloves, hat, and footwear. Appropriate fabrics include: leather, wool, cotton, Kevlar, or carbon fiber. Warnings: open cuff boots catch hot embers; synthetic fabric melts and causes burns; loose hair tends to be singed by the end of class.

forging materials     mild steel, titanium, stainless steel, or silicon bronze. No galvanized metal, aluminum, or recycled industrial metal.

finish      forged patina,  ‘hand filing’, or plating by others.

tongs     firm positive grip, never pivoting. Please ask the instructor to re-forge the jaws to fit the work.

hammers    new handles when they split, face of hammer has burrs trimmed; no taping allowed.

anvils     are secured with chain onto JG Anvil Stand

two man forging       for each individual, the instructor shall assign a specific partner for two man forging who is obliged to stop and assist as needed. 

foresight       know what you plan to do when you reach the anvil.

three at a forge    never more than three. 

working heat    If there is not enough heat, do not start hammering.

torch      never put the torch down on the forge or table.  Lines are stored in a specific place that is off the floor; hoses and cords do not get stepped on. All during the class, turn off the valves at the Oxy-Acetylene tanks whenever the torch is not in use.

extinguishers      are available; use is understood by all. Buckets of sand are always at the ready.

canteen     is available any time: drinking water and snacks: popcorn, dried fruit, and nuts, a place to wash hands, a first aid kit with burn cream, bandages, aspirin, eye wash flushing system, hand cleaner, Neosporin, and a blanket. Gloves and face shields are always available.

injuries     stop working; have someone examine the injury; always formulate why it occurred.

bad air    is not allowed: paint spray, sandblasting, acid or base surface treatment, galvanized steel, brass with zinc, recycled metal with synthetic coatings such as: Teflon, epoxy, cadmium, lead, or any coating that has toxic fumes that will vaporize and be ingested.

no power tools       no welders, no grinding, and no drilling.

make it go away      maintain a scene that is free from visual clutter. Return inactive tools to the plank with the other tools. The litter stand has a designated place outside the area of activity. The visual scene of the entire forge platform needs to always be free from the eyesore of packaging or refuse.

chores    leaves and burnable material are cleared up to 25 feet out from the edge of the steel platform; clinker buckets emptied; quench water is fresh; service the litter stand; sweep the platform.

demonstration    expertise is best introduced by the instructor, not by fellow students.

assistant     is a specific person assigned by the instructor to perform technical expertise such as welding, and cutting.

ingenuity       please,  resist the impulse to be a volunteer; do not compromise the opportunity for another

interruptions     email, texting, conversations…please attend to these when you are off the platform:

rapport      please, respect the focus that fellow students apply to their work;  if someone likes to chat, be sure to start a dialog and leave them hanging in mid-sentence. 

endorphins    can be dangerous. If I become aware that I am ‘in your way’, it is time for you to take a break!

let it fall      if something slips, let it fall; never try to catch it.


       The monitor is on the lookout for students who are noticeably aggravated. It can compromise the student’s performance and generate unnecessary tension in the class. It is likely that the student made a shallow decision to join the class.  They begin to experience strong resistance toward prospecting for an unprecedented idea. They may feel disrespect toward the instructor for the manner that the class is being run. These are actual quotes toward James Garvey, the instructor, “My former teacher’s were much more liberal about the way I work in class; we would have conversations.  I am not being nourished. I am disgusted by the way that you bully all the students in this class.” The monitor, the instructor and the student will discuss the behavior and consider an alternative opportunity.  Awkward issues may include:

compromised attention        student is not interested enough to overcome the threshold to realize unprecedented work.

autonomy issue     student has an impulse or motivation to usurp the instruction;  they argue, and take offense at criticism, or they always have a story that they compare to the situation at hand.

accident prone       student is physically inept or predetermined to have accidents or embrace unnecessary risk.

self-fulfilling mentality        student is locked into a creative bent of their own, irrespective of the instructor’s direction or the effect that it has on the rest of the class.

‘leavies’        student is unable to focus on their own work; they burn things up in the fire because they are too often available to solve problems and assist fellow students

social barriers       student is nervous in a group, unable to ask for assistance, shy about the performance of learning a new skill, awkward about sharing space or tools.


see also:

MAKING HOOKS: 23 Sketches with descriptions

HAMMERING  Medieval Poise Sketches: ‘hammering on the anvil’, ‘hammering on an angle’


FORGE ATTIRE Sketch with practical descriptions