Roscoe spent his last year of high school searching for a career. That was five years ago, and now the 22-year-old is figuring out how to do what he loves and make money while doing it.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” said Roscoe.
He liked welding and thought he would go into trades, but there was something missing about that career path. It didn't involve his other passion - art - and Roscoe wasn’t ready to let that go.
At 18, he visited his friend Hayward Meisner in Lockeport, Meisner is a blacksmith and Roscoe was able to give it a try. It was his first time picking up a hammer to shape metal, but it was more than metal being formed: his own path was instantly shaped that day.
“He showed me all the basics,” said Roscoe. “I wouldn’t be the blacksmith I am today without his help.”
The blacksmith biz
Eventually, Roscoe's own blacksmith business, Roscoe Ironworks, was forged from the fire where he creates custom pieces for customers as well as his own designs.
“There was something about it,” said Roscoe. “There aren’t a lot of people who do this kind of work.”
He's set up a shop in his Jordan Falls home, where his oven burns as high as 2,500-degrees Fahrenheit. In the summer, the heat can be unbearable, but Roscoe hammers on. There’s an air blower that constantly stokes the fire to keep the temperature high.
In the corner of the shop is a large tub of green coal that Roscoe tosses into the fire right before he starts work on a new piece to help coke up the oven.
Then he puts in a fresh piece of steel rod. When the rods are delivered they are an uninspiring flat, straight metal that comes in 10-foot lengths. To most people, the steel would be just that, but Roscoe can envision how the straight rods will twist and shape until they become beautiful entrance gates to a swimming pool or a centerpiece for a living room as a chandelier.
Hard at work
Roscoe is currently working on an order for a customer and pokes the metal into the hot coal until the metal glows red.
He puts on gloves and transfers the rod over to where his anvil and hammer are.
He gets burned from time to time, he admits.
“You learn quick not to touch hot metal,” he jokes.
He strikes at the metal and the steel transforms into the shape Roscoe envisions.
“Once I get into it, it flows,” he explained. “I’m a visual person. I see what I want and I take it to the finished form.”
Roscoe is in the process of building his business. He takes orders and fills them and keeps his customers happy. A lot of them have become repeat customers.
“Most of my customers come from word of mouth,” he says.
Roscoe still works as a carpenter to help pay the bills but dreams of the day when he can create ironworks full-time.
He also wants to create bigger pieces for customers.
“I want to be able to do larger gates so that people notice when they drive by,” said Roscoe.
There's just something about the permanence of metal that he likes as a medium.
“Once I die, they will still be around. It’s a legacy,” said Roscoe.
Go online: Learn more about Jake Roscoe’s pieces at his Facebook page