Artist Forges Rim Country Career

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Living in one of the oldest cabins in Pine, blacksmith Tony Roberson says he's right where he wants to be.

Roberson is open when he's there and closed when he's not. He doesn't carry business cards, has no shop phone, and there is no sign of technology lurking anywhere close.

"Not many people make the opportunity for themselves to do what they love," Roberson said. Roberson has been using fire to bend metal since he was a 10-year-old in Mesa. From repairing fences to creating metallic snakes, the 39-year-old takes pride in his craft and its history.

"It's a fun trade and there are so few of us left," he said in between firing and hammering on a piece of cast iron.

He points to vises that are 100-years old and then shows off the tools, like the forge he is using that he built himself.

"In this kind of work you have to have authentic equipment," he said. "You can't buy them anymore. If you don't have the tools, you will have to build it.

"... You've got to be very creative and visualize what the customer wants, which sometimes gets difficult," he admits. "Even in the jobs that are a little more challenging, there is always something that I'll get a kick out of."

Art meets every-day use in the tiny retail shop. Folks can pick up a towel rack made from horseshoes and iron, a kitchen tool that turns meat and horseshoes-turned-picture frames. Each bit of work represents hours of sweat over a hot forge. Roberson can spend 40 to 70 hours just putting together a bench of horseshoes.

In spite of the number of horseshoe-inspired pieces in his shop, Roberson says he is no farrier. His talent is creating in metal, not fitting horseshoes to a 1,200-pound animal.

Roberson finds himself in awe of new creations. One often leads to another and another idea. He also loves to collaborate with friends, customers and tradesmen.

Rim country suited Roberson's style. The family values and sense of community in Pine-Strawberry touched his heart. He had visited for many years and finally moved up the hill from Mesa about a year-and-a-half ago to care for ailing grandparents.

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