Contemporary blacksmith Pierre Dupont lives and works between the past and present. Former fashion photographer, now highly skilled artisan blacksmith and alchemist, he uses high heat, hammers, exceptional aesthetic sensibility and distinctive technique to create one-of-a-kind artistic and structural wrought iron works.
For buildings, Dupont’s projects include bespoke luxuries: balustrades, staircases, gates, pergolas, door grills. Another passion is restorations, recreating the facades of historic buildings. Furniture and objects of desire comprise fireplaces, bannisters, shelving units, desks, lighting fixtures, handles, jewelry boxes, candlesticks.
Since completing an extended new library project in a historic government building last year, Pierre’s hammer hasn’t stopped. Last fall he was also named president of IFRAM-Metal Arts Research and Training professional organization, and oversees professional projects to develop awareness and image, advise businesses, research innovation, not to mention organize trade shows, symposiums, training for newcomers, and publish FÈVRES magazine.
Being a “forgeron” (French for blacksmith) is his passion. He loves the fire, alchemy and transformation that comes with intense heat (1650-2282°F). Preferred design styles are clean, with natural curves and geometric balance, slightly reminiscent of art nouveau.
Restoration intrigues Dupont and he avidly researches, rediscovering designs, tools and techniques from the past. Using high quality solid metal similar to those used historically in all of his pieces, he brings to life precious patinas of decades past. “The blacksmith creates his tools depending on the work, using techniques and products from long ago,” he explains.
Transforming himself from fashion photography to “forgeron” was a feat of alchemy in itself, taking a lot of sweat and years, explaining “I was 40 and could have done fashion photography forever. But I wanted to work with my hands.”
Immersing himself in formal technical training in 1999-2000, then spending another two years with a Paris company was just the beginning. During this time, he subscribed to IFRAM (Metal Artisans Research-Training Institute), published FÈVRES magazine, and ramped up his networking connections with other artisans.
A few years later, Dupont based his business two hours from Paris, in Soligny-la-Trappe, Normandy, buying a building and installing a forge. At first, his clientele were all Parisian, but now has many regional clients.
This organization took Pierre twice to Moscow (2006-06) where he met Pavel Pryakine, president of the Moscow League of Blacksmiths.
Impression of his Muscovite colleagues: “Russians have great dexterity and mastery of hot forged metals in a very ornate Baroque style.” Then, UJUA, IFRAM and Russia sent him on a whirlwind of sponsored international trips and exchanges, including Russia’s international festival of blacksmiths in Siberian Irkutsk, then another in Tcheliabinsk.
By 2013, Dupont was sent with other blacksmiths from Norway, Poland, Austria, Moscow and Saint Petersburg to restore six ornate, front door grills at Kalingrad’s Amber Museum, an 1850’s Neo-Gothic building. They worked for a week, “Like a master’s class, each contributing their special expertise to local knowledge,” he says.
His latest trip in 2015, was to polar Kortkeros and St. Petersburg. Reflecting on his career, this modern Iron Man ranks his professional relationships among his favorite work attributes: planning projects with clients, collaborating with international peers or discovery-sharing, introducing school children to the forge and the transformation of iron by fire.
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