If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
Sometimes it’s fun to use these “Small Business Friday” features to take a break from traditional businesses and highlight local creators and artists whose work may or may not turn into an official business one day, but it’s still cool nonetheless! Such is the case with this week’s guest, Anthony Sutter (that’s a great first name, by the way). Anthony is a local Spring Creek resident who currently works at Elko High School. However, when he’s not at his job or spending time with his family, Anthony can be found in his garage forging metals into something amazing!
Just in case you may not know, forging is the process in which someone makes or shapes a metal object by heating it in a fire or furnace and hammering it. Anthony uses this skill to make all sorts of handy pieces such as tables, shelves, and his ever-popular knives. Towards the end of this feature, we’ll see some examples of his work, but we can tell you he has a real passion for his hobby, or as he calls it, “his sense of peace.”
Thank you for joining us this week, Anthony! Let’s get this conversation heated by learning a little bit about you! Can you please tell us a bit about your story?
“I was born and raised in Elko. I actually work at the high school I graduated from. Throughout high school, I did FFA (Future Farmers of America) and that’s where I really got into welding. It was my dad’s thing too, as he was always in the garage working on cars. During my senior year, I did AG mechanics with FFA and I got the third-highest for an individual in the state.
“After high school, I did a semester at GBC. They have programs where you can do a welding program where you get your associate degree in only two semesters. I did that, graduated, and realized I didn’t want to use my degree to go into mining. I started looking at my options, and one day, I went to a GBC career fair. There was a Navy recruiter there and he told me about how they had a great welding program. I thought about it for a while and decided to join the Navy delayed entry program. I got to put out a fire while I was in, but my main job was plumbing and welding. After four years, I got out of the Navy and came [back] to Elko. I was here for about a year before going down to San Diego to attend a dive school to become an underwater welder eventually! I graduated from that school, but I did so during the offseason of diving and it was hard to find anyone who was hiring for a wage that I could actually live on, especially in San Diego. So, I moved back to Elko again!”
Well, we’re glad you’re back here again! It’s always fascinating to speak with someone with a unique past time. How did you get to the point where it’s common to find you forging in your own garage?
“As I’ve said, I’ve been working with metal since I was in high school. In college, I even studied metallurgy. There’s a lot to it and I’ve enjoyed learning about it. In college, we did a little bit of forging; we made a cold chisel and a punch. When I got out of the Navy and came back home, my cousin and I started watching and loving the show Forged in Fire. One day, we went out into my dad’s garage, which has every piece of equipment you could ever want, and we decided that we should try forging ourselves! So, we ended up making a little forge out of bricks and a metal frame. Making the burner for it took some trial and error, and we ended up making a flamethrower in my dad’s garage at one point!”
Interesting! Can you please walk us through your process a bit? How does your work usually go from conception to reality?
“I’ll imagine what I want to make in my head, and then I’ll draw it out. [I] then put [my] metal in the forge and let it get hot-cherry red. After that, I’ll use an anvil to flatten it out with a hammer. Once it starts to cool, [I] put it back into the fire and keep shaping it until [I] get it the way [I] want it. There are different hammers and parts of the anvil you can use to get it the way you want, but it’s a slow process. On average, it’ll take a couple of days or so for me to finish a knife. But what’s cool is that everything is one-of-a kind when it comes out. There’s an art to it.”
Before we ask Anthony our last question, let’s show off some of his work! Each one of the pictures below features something that he made with his own hands, time, and energy! Check these out!
You’re definitely talented, Anthony! Now, before we let you get back to the old hammer and flame, is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers today?
“There’s not really much more to say except, support your local artists! My pieces may not look like much, but people may not realize everything that goes into every one of those knives and items from start to finish. See the value in the things local people make!”
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Until next time, we’ll see you around, Elko!
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