Master Blacksmith

Paul Thorne


Anacortes blacksmith Paul Thorne has found his life’s calling creating useful and beautiful metal sculpture.

Heron Among the Rushes, Gate, 60 inches x 96 inches, Hand-forged steel

Before Paul Thorne could talk, he was tinkering in his father’s basement workshop. “That was one of the happiest times in my life, spending that time with my dad, making little scooter cars, toys, or Christmas presents,” says Thorne. Fast forward to 1983, and Thorne was working as a diving engineer, responding to high-pressure, worldwide undersea operations.

Celtic Fireplace Tools, 18 x 20 inches, Hand-forged steel

One night, Thorne came home stressed and went to his garage. He fitted a three-inch nail in some vice grips, picked up a small butane torch, and started heating and pounding the metal. “I had no intention of making anything. I was just blowing off steam,” says Thorne. But by early morning, that nail had become a tiny fork. “I was so stunned,” says Thorne. “I just looked at it and went, ‘Where did that come from?’ It was a revelation to me. I had never even thought about blacksmithing until then.” After a few more evenings like this—the next night he made a matching spoon—Thorne was hooked, leaving his engineering career nine months later to become a blacksmith.

Alaska Halibut Table, 59 inches x 30 inches x 18 inches, Hand-forged steel

In the decades since, Thorne has crafted items big and small, from large-scale sculptures and architectural installations, to finely-detailed plates, in his Anacortes studio, Thorne Metals. Now a Master Blacksmith, he also teaches blacksmithing classes to pass down the art and knowledge of the craft. “My calling is to make useful and beautiful things out of metal,” says Thorne. “I love to teach, too. I have to pass this on to as many people as I can. Not just the smithing, but the conviction that you have a calling, and you just need to make it your business to pursue it.”

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