From shoeing costly horses to forging, this blacksmith does it all!
When one walks into the Reva Forge, located in a seemingly quiet residential district of Wilmington, California, the first thing one is likely to note is that a fully functional blacksmith shop mounted on a truck is backed into the place.
That first glance about the shop makes it obvious that the owner, Red St. Cyr, is highly serious about his work … and the place where he does that work. All of the tools and machines show the result of frequent use and equally frequent care.
When I questioned the origin of the name of the forge, St. Cyr explained that the first word is a combination of the first to letters of his name, RE, and the second two letters comprising the last two letters in the sign, VA, which come from his wife’s first name, Eva.
It can be said that the Californian leads a double life. One of those lives started at the age of 13, when St. Cyr became the apprentice to a farrier. It didn’t take long for him to discover he loved both horses and metalwork. By the time he was 16, he was accredited as a fully qualified farrier. These days, with his rating as a Master Farrier, he is in near-constant demand by the owners of expensive horses. As a result, he has toured the U.S. and several foreign countries, where he has designed, forged and custom-fit iron shoes to all sorts of equines. Today, he maintains a steady cliental, forging all of the shoes he tacks to the hooves of the various breeds. An indication of his pride in his work is a horseshoe he forged from his own Damascus steel. It is mounted on a plaque that decorates the wall of his shop.
The village blacksmith shop is pretty much a thing of the past, of course, and instead of the horse being brought to the farrier, it is he who almost inevitably goes to the horse. Thus, St. Cyr has a complete blacksmith shop set up on the bed of a truck in which he cruises the Southern California countryside to get to his clients’ corrals.
The farrier qualified as an American Bladesmith Society Journeyman Bladesmith in 1995, then earned is Master’s rating five years later. He is credited with being the founder of the ABS West Coast Forging Clinic, as well as being a member of the Southern California Blades, the Arizona Knifemakers Association and the Oregon Knifemakers Association. The former president of the California Knifemakers Association has annually hosted the CKA’s Forging Clinic and conducts knife-forging demonstrations each year at a number of custom cutlery events, including the Pasadena-based Knife Expo, Blade West and Reno ABS Shows.
When he goes to one of the numerous hammer-ins in which he takes part, he often takes the truck along, since he can use his horseshoe-making equipment to demonstrate how a knife blade can be created in a manner that was almost lost until the formation of the ABS. Included in the truck is a Forgemaster forge made for knives with a side door for larger blades. The truck contains a full shop with grinders, buffers, welders and drill presses.
Stay tuned for a closer look at some of the products St. Cyr creates!
By C. Jack Lewis
Photos by Stephanie Gonsalves and Red St. Cyr