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Unforged, An Interview With Thomas Gontar, Local Blacksmith

Sep 6, 2022

Glynde Forge Urban Industry

We’re excited to showcase another content piece - this time with Blacksmith Thomas Gontar and his workshop at Glynde Forge. A loyal customer of Urban Industry since the very beginning in 2002 when store opened, Thomas in an incredible artist, and alongside his team designs hand-forged metal works for hotels, restaurants and various other venues across London and the South East. Read all about Thomas and Glynde Forge in our exclusive interview below.

Predominantly wearing Carhartt WIP workwear pieces due to their durable and tough compositions, they withstand the scorching temperatures, flames and sparks. 

Click here to shop the latest arrivals from Carhartt WIP.

Glynde Forge Urban Industry

Could you tell us about your background, and how you got into Blacksmithing?
I studied art at college, went from school to college doing art, then I dropped out and fell into various different jobs, construction, engineering on and off for about six to seven years. I discovered Blacksmithing at Plumpton college, signed up and I just fell in love with it. It was the art world with the physicality of construction and engineering work that I had been used to, and the three just naturally merged into one.

It’s very much a heritage, medieval style of craftsmanship and it’s great that it is still used today. We’ve been discussing future-proofing your job, because this role has artistic flair do you think Blacksmithing will continue for years to come?
It’s been going for thousands of years and it’s gone through all types of changes across the world, yet it’s still here today so you can say it’s stood the test of time. But it’s always evolving, so right now we have induction heaters as fossil fuels are on the decline, so we’re trying to adapt and use new ways to advance in the craft, by using electricity and alternative power.

Glynde Forge Urban Industry

Have you got an induction heater and will this be a permanent piece of machinery?
I actually use it a lot, I’m using it more than the coal forge. I use a mixture of the two going between the propane (gas) forge and the induction heater. Coal is slowly dying out so the coal forge only gets used for certain things here and there. But I'm finding that the induction forge is giving me exactly what I want.

You work on sculpture and furniture designs, what’s your favourite piece that you’ve worked on?
We’ve just done a set of 26 tables for Browns Hotel in London. That was a really fun job, a case of making a batch of tables all exactly the same. What was really nice about it was that it was a design that I’ve used from college that has come with me for so many years and I finally got to bring it to life on a large scale.

It’s something I’ve always been really passionate about. I made this design and I’ve always wanted to make it and get it commissioned, and that was my time to get it out there to the big world.

Glynde Forge Urban Industry

How long have you been a customer with Urban Industry, and what do you like about the store and the site?
Since the beginning! Since they opened. 
I love the selection of clothes that you’re getting in there. I love this new mountain, hiking style that’s around at the moment, because it really fits with what I do. There’s quality brands, my favourite are Edwin jeans, Carhartt WIP, I’m loving the new brands as well like Snow Peak, Klattermusen, Danner Boots, Red Wings. It’s on point with style.

Do workwear pieces compliment your work? Are there any specific pieces that stand out to you?
Definitely. I think Carhartt WIP is up there with the best workwear that I have used, it’s lasted for years, I’ve tried all different types of workwear - including professional welding gear, and Carhartt stands the test of time. I use it a lot. 

Chore Jackets for winter are the best ones for warmth and they’re durable. I’ve got two of them and they just last forever, others jackets in the forge just last a couple of months. They’ve had sparks on them, fire, they’ve gone through some serious conditions in the forge and they’re still in amazing tact. And they look good when they’re ripped too.

Glynde Forge Urban Industry

In the images above we’ve captured the latest creation - bar stools, from a collaboration between Glynde Forge and Weez & Merl, furniture designers based in Brighton who focus on producing products which utilise sustainable materials. For this particular design, waste forged steel forms the legs of the stools, combined with recycled Low Density Polyethylene Plastic commonly found in plastic bags, moulded and crafted into the shiny marble tops.

Photography: Urban Industry
Art Direction: Urban Industry
Article: Urban Industry