Ben Gourley & Gord Macdonald – Heritageworks Ltd.
For those us working in the cultural heritage sector in western Canada, Jake James is a stalwart ally in promoting traditional practice and authenticity in material craft. His ability to envision almost anything in wrought iron, his vocabulary in traditional detailing, and his collaborative approach have contributed to the success of many projects. His skills provide a vital link in our sector to a general resurgence toward traditional practice, complimenting similar movements in carpentry and masonry practice.
We have worked enthusiastically with Jake on several nationally and internally significant conservation projects; including the National Historic Sites of Cole Island in British Columbia, and Atlas Cole Mine in Alberta; and as far afield as Antarctica where his work features in the conservation of the expedition huts of Scott and Shackleton undertaken by the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.
Ben Gourley & Gord Macdonald
Kevin Stanford, Blacksmith
Participant at sculpture workshops and private student.
Over the last two years, I’ve participated in multiple collaborative sculpture workshops, and have taken a private workshop with Jake. I have also worked with him in his shop on one of his sculptural pieces. I found my time spent with Jake to be educational, energizing, and fun! He is a patient instructor, and he communicates concisely with folks that are learning.
The sculpture builds involve a wide range of techniques and tools, with a wide diversity of people helping, so he’s very good at keeping a group headed in the right direction. At times, it seems like there might be more than one Jake running around! My private workshop involved tong making, power hammer techniques, and free-form forging. I am now much more confident in executing these techniques, and feel that I really benefited from the opportunity to take someone on one time under Jake’s instruction.
Kevin Stanford, Blacksmith, Tx.
KYLE BLOXHAM – B-CUBED CONSTRUCTION, OWNER
Stone House and Sunset House Projects, Saltspring Island, BC
The first project we worked on together was the Stone House, starting I believe in 2007. Jake also worked on the “Garagemahal”, 300 Stewart Road and 810 Sunset — all on Salt Spring Island between 2007 and 2012.
In response to clients’ requests for unique metalworks, Jake created custom light fixtures, cabinet pulls, decorative ceiling mounts, door hardware, railings, fireplace surrounds, trim work, architectural features, and even a hot tub surround.
Our working relationship evolved over the years, but was extremely collaborative right from the beginning. In general, we [me (the builder/GC), Jake and the client] would meet early on to discuss goals and expectations, functionality of proposed pieces, build parameters, timelines and budgets. Jake would then retreat to develop design options, which the client would review and approve.
This process became more and more intuitive over the years, as Jake understood implicitly the design and function intentions for each project, and his proposals were always well-suited.
I have worked with many craftsmen, artists and artisans over the years, and while their creativity can add a lot to a project, there can be a lack of understanding of larger project imperatives (like budgets, timelines and building constraints), which can be frustrating. This was never the case with Jake. I was extremely impressed with Jake from the very beginning because of his ability to meet expectations and deadlines, and to communicate challenges early enough so that I could accommodate any changes into construction if needed. Jake became an essential part of the team, and was able to work well with other subcontractors, which helped keep the overall projects on track and running smoothly.
Jake is one of (if not THE) most talented tradesmen I’ve ever worked with. His artistry is obvious, and he is an accomplished craftsman – but he also grasps the importance of project management and business objectives, including efficiency, adhering to timelines and budgets, and the critical need to effectively communicate with clients and other trades. This has made him an exceptional person to work with.
I pride myself on the quality of workmanship throughout every project I take on, and Jake’s work contributed to and enhanced that feeling of satisfaction upon the completion of every project. I was always gratified to provide a unique, one-of-a-kind, handmade and beautiful product to my clients, which would not have been the same without Jake’s artistic sensibility, creative discipline and collaborative nature.
You can find info on all our awards at www.bcubedconstruction.com
Owner, b-Cubed Construction
KELLY MOIR – KM INTERIOR DESIGNS, PRINCIPAL/OWNER
It has been a pleasure to work with Jake on multiple projects now.
He has an artists eye for detail in his concepts that is executed in the final product with precision and an expert hand.
My clients have been very satisfied with his work and I will continue to call on him in the future when a client is looking for one-of-a-kind ironwork.
MICHELLE FRAZER – BLACKSMITHING PHOTOGRAPHER
Jake James has accepted his role as a liaison for the trade; along with being a contemporary blacksmith working at his forge out of Canada, he also travels to give demonstrations and presentations for the promotion of the craft.
During Jake’s slideshow of past works, he speaks about his progression as an artist in the blacksmithing trade and where he wants to focus his future pieces. The presentation offers contemporary perspective that is interesting not only to fellow metalworkers, but also to any art minded individual.
The photography of beautiful forged pieces ranging from sculpture, to public works, to custom lighting and railing is supplemental to a thought-provoking dialogue on the interpretation of artistry from the hindsight view of the artist himself as he speaks about his personal progression.
Jake has developed through his experience a style wherein a viewer of the art is compelled to confront the effort that was necessary to move the material, an insight for attaining a specific appreciation that any artist could benefit from.
PATRICK QUINN – CENTER FOR METAL ARTS AT THE CAMBRIA FORGE, DIRECTOR
I have had the pleasure of working with Jake on several group sculpture builds. Jake’s energy and enthusiasm for forging bring such an exciting vibe to the studio. He has a warm character and really makes everybody present feel comfortable and appreciated. I have worked with and alongside many blacksmiths and some of the greatest problem solving and growth I have experienced as a craftsman and artist, have come from Jake’s collaborative sculpture workshops.
Jake pushes the way one typically thinks about forging iron, he thinks outside the box and helps you realize that blacksmithing can be much more than a single man standing at an anvil. Encouraging experimentation, Jake’s work embodies all the wonderful qualities of iron and how it can be manipulated through heat and pressure.
The people I have met, and the friends I have made working with Jake, are people I remain very close to. A large percentage of the participants are people I have never met or worked with before, and through this shared experience I always leave certain I have made very close friendships I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Working with Jake is truly an experience to be remembered, I look back fondly at all the times we have worked together and find that those experiences have helped me immensely with my personal work. I look to those participants I have grown close with for advice, support, and laughter, and I know they do the same.