Born and raised in Mexico it was there that I was first introduced to the art of metal and iron at the age of 12. At the time, my mother was working for a family who owned a traditional blacksmith shop in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. I was so fascinated with the work that was being created by hand, that I begged my mother to talk to her employer about giving me a chance to work in the shop. He agreed that I could do the daily clean up after school. For the next two years I swept the floors and ran errands but I also watched and learned. Primo Metal & Iron ArtistryBy the age of 14 I started my apprenticeship along side the owner and his sons. They shared their extensive skills and experience in bending metal and iron by hand while it’s cold to create their ornamental knights, ships, roman shields, swords, chandeliers, and furniture. By the time I turned 16 I had already learned how to make my own jigs. I was also able to do layouts and cutouts from sheet metal. Next came learning how to weld and how to use a forge. The many skills and techniques I learned from these genuine artisans are invaluable to me today.
After spending my teen years growing up in Mexico, my family came to Washington State in 1980. I spent many years working as a farm laborer in the fields. I also worked for the forest service as a tree planter and in later years as a private contractor doing forestry work – planting, thinning, cutting trees, etc. During this time, all I ever thought about were the Knight Sculptures I had learned to create as a teenager and it was then that the “BIG” idea popped into my head. I contacted my former mentor and in the winter of 1990 I returned to his shop in Mexico and built a 24 Ft Knight in Shining Armour! In my eyes it was even bigger and better than I had ever imagined. The one thing I had not imagined was how I was going to get it back home to Yakima. But even that was a simple fix – Big Knight equals Big Rack and so I constructed a special rack on top of my Nissan pickup and drove my Knight back home to Washington. The Knight made it in great condition but my Nissan’s motor was shot! Today the Knight stands tall in front of a hotel in the tourist town of Leavenworth, WA that is well known for its Bavarian Village theme.
After this journey, I spent the following years working as a material handler and welder in local sheet metal shops. There was no artisan creativity in what I was doing but I gained valuable experience on how to run a business and I made professional contacts that would be of great assistance to me in the future.
One day a man, who had been my foreman when I was working as a farm laborer, approached me about making garden planters for his nursery. He let me know that if I was capable of making a 24-Foot Knight then making wire trellises and hanging baskets should not be a problem for me. This is how I got into the Garden Decor side of my business. Later this same year someone, who is now a good friend of mine, approached me about making a residential sliding gate. He had been referred to me by a gal who knew of my work with the Knight and my recent garden decor. This would turn out to be my first of many BIG projects. At the time, I had no workshop not even a car garage but I had God on my side, the determination to make it happen, and a backyard patio. It was a very cold winter but it didn’t bother me because I felt this was the beginning of my return to what I was destined to do! Upon completion of the gate, I built a workshop and opened up for business. Fifteen years later, I am blessed to still be in business and I am grateful to all of my clients that have kept me in business through word of mouth – THANK YOU!