1840 Journal

Meet the artisans, discover their expertise, and share their passion.

Creators

Forging an object’s character.

Blacksmith Thomas Lefebvre brings metal to life through his modern twist on this ancestral art.

An artisan by trade, Thomas compares forging to sculpture: “I move solid material that's been softened by using heat,” he explains. Magic happens between the hammer and the anvil. “I hammer hard, using the moulds and patterns that will allow me to give the object the final shape that I want.” Since he was a teenager, the artisan has been following in the footsteps of his father, who is also a blacksmith. “We have pretty different styles,” Thomas points out. He has now been working independently for the last 8 years.

Thomas concentrates on the design of objects in his work. “I mostly make tools that are useful in day-to-day life and are forged out of metal,” he says. “I focus on decorative functionality, meaning that I produce objects that are aesthetically interesting, but that are also functional.” Thomas takes the time to give his creations a personal touch.

“I do it with a certain style and aesthetic interest. I generally go for simple and minimalistic elements. I also enjoy straight lines and dramatic contrasts, for example, between surfaces that are untouched and those that are heavily worked on.” 

While Thomas may seem to have been destined for metalworking, he contemplated becoming a violin maker before turning to metal, a material that allows for more experimentation. “My training in instrument-making is still useful to me,” he explains. “For instance, measurements, precision, and accuracy are all very important aspects of instrument-making that still serve me today.” At the moment, the artisan is mostly working with mild and stainless steel. “I’ve been specializing in this material for the past few years,” he says. “I have worked very hard to find a technique to make long-lasting objects that have the charm of metalwork.” Once forged, stainless steel requires a rigorous finishing and polishing process in order to protect its appearance and keep it easy to maintain. Despite the material's modern look, the designer makes sure to leave artisanal traces. “There are still a lot of rough marks from forging, like the hammer imprints. Even if the object is polished like a mirror, we are still able to see the metalwork.”

According to Thomas, there are a lot of myths about metalworking. He's trying to demystify the trade using social media, where he documents his work. “People aren’t in contact with this type of trade these days.” he says. “There used to be a blacksmith on every street corner. It was a very useful trade in people’s daily lives.” As the designer explains, there is confusion about the differences between forging and smelting. “They are two metalworking techniques. Smelting is a process of making objects by pouring liquid material into moulds. Smelted objects have very different characteristics from forged objects,” he explains.

The mystery around his profession doesn’t stop Thomas from getting lots of work. Between commercial projects, buyers’ requests, and his own line of products, every day is forged differently for Thomas.

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