Iron John Logan
I was born John Thomas Logan in 1986. Growing up I had no clue that I was different from other people of my generation – With a father that lived through the Great Depression and survived World War II and a Mother that picketed against the Vietnam War – to say the least I had a non conventional upbringing.
I was raised in rural Michigan, with the closest neighbors living about a half mile a way. The house I grew up in had belonged to a centennial farm, and though my parents only had five acres, I had the run of over a thousand. At a young age (about 3 years old) my parents decided it was a good time to give me a knife. My father ground the tip off so I couldn’t stab myself, showed me how to use and sharpen it and let me out into the world of sticks and trees and popsicle sticks. By the time I was six I was using hatchets, by eight I had felled trees with a full length axe.
My father always kept a woodshop, stocked full of tools and piles of scrap lumber and projects never quite finished. I spent much of my time in there, though I wasn’t allowed to use many of the tools without my father around, I remember climbing atop the work bench to reach his prized chisels and planes that he kept out of my reach.
Though he didn’t know it – he was distilling in me a deep love for old tools, tools that make chips and curls and soft noises as they slide through an old piece of pine, oak, or cherry. I started collecting antique tools. From junk stores, flea markets, antique stores, any where I could find them. I amassed a large assortment of wooden molding planes, adzes, draw knifes, augers, and saws. I would refurbish them and then begin to use them. Working totally by hand, I got most of my material from the fence rows and woods around were I lived. I would square, saw, plane these trees into boards and then begin to build. But there were tools that I saw in my books that were either too rare or too expensive for me to buy, so I asked my parents for a blacksmith set up for my birthday – I was about to be twelve…
I got a little anvil, a leg vice, forge, and a few tongs. My father knew a man that owned an antique steam tractor and he gave me some coal, and I was off running. Though I never did make those tools that I wanted, I began taking classes in historical blacksmithing and fell in love this new material – iron.
When I graduated from high school (it is funny saying that because I never made past the second grade…) I went down to Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. My first “concentration” was taught by Marc Maiorana and he showed me the truly artistic side of metal working. After coming home I knew what I wanted to do – to set up a shop of my own. I cleared out a space in the bottom of one my parents’ barns and set to work making, finding and refurbishing blacksmithing tools. I also began on an associate’s degree in fine art and metal working.
In 2008 I began doing Blacksmithing full time when I moved my shop to the old Horner Mill in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. Though the Iron Tree Forge shop came to an end in the spring of 2013, I have continued doing what I love: making things and teaching Traditional Blacksmithing and Historical Crafts.