If you’ve ever hung up your coat at Ginger and Baker, you may have noticed the beautiful, hand-wrought railroad spike coat racks in The Cache, Café and Wine Cellar. Or maybe you’ve chanced on the sturdy railroad spike bottle openers in the Market. Local craftsman Nate Donoho is the mastermind behind this ruggedly beautiful metal work and one of the many local artists we’ve been lucky to work with since we first broke ground on renovation and construction.
Donoho, a Fort Collins native, turned to blacksmithing after serving three tours as a U.S. Marine. “When I came back home, I started taking welding classes at Front Range Community College,” Nate said. “One day I saw this old anvil at the school, heated up a piece of metal and just started to hit it. It was fun!”
This led Nate to Arizona for more blacksmith classes and then an apprenticeship with Steve Fontanini, a master blacksmith in Jackson, WY. “In Jackson, I saw all the stuff Steve had created for the community throughout town,” Nate said. “It made me want to do the same thing here in Fort Collins.”
Nate now has his own shop just outside of town, Donoho Blacksmith & Ironworks, where he uses traditional and modern methods of forging, fabricating and welding to create everything from tables to hand tools to knives and architectural art. “In this era, craftsmen are artists and artists are craftsmen,” Nate said. “To me, real art is in creating everything from a tool to a sculpture.”
Nate’s enthusiasm and passion for his craft is unmistakable. Currently, he’s sharing that excitement by teaching blacksmith classes at Front Range and continuing to build his business. “Right now I’m working on a custom knife for a 20th anniversary, and a railing for an old friend,” Nate said. “The thing about this stuff is that it will last long after I’m gone. And seeing that people enjoy interacting with the work is one of the best parts.”
At Ginger and Baker, along with the coatracks and bottle openers, Nate is working on ideas for an architectural trellis for our north patio. “There are so many possibilities, it’s exciting. I grew up here and have always known this building so it’s great to see it brought back to life,” Nate said. “The idea of having traditionally made iron work in there is pretty awesome.”
(See more of Nate’s work at DonohoBlacksmith.com)