By: Stacy Keith
Daniel Dean is a blacksmith forging iron into both the functional and the artistic. Livingston Forge is his studio, workshop, classroom, and retail space where he is actively introducing the community to this age-old art form.
Dean grew up in Lubbock and remembers the Lubbock art scene as a child. He had the honor of meeting several Lubbock art icons including Glenna Goodacre and Louise Hopkins Underwood – artists were friends of his family, and he gained an early respect for the people and places which created it.
As a Monterey High School graduate, he participated in the architecture program and band at school and always enjoyed drawing. He made his career in information technology for several years but couldn’t keep the creativity in him hidden away. In 2013, he discovered the art of blacksmithing. He is completely self-taught. His mentor, Kelly Kring, is a blacksmithing instructor at Brookhaven College near Dallas. Dean discovered Kring’s methods and began looking to him for feedback and assistance with techniques. Mr. Dean also created the Lubbock Regions Blacksmith Group (about a 200-mile radius around Lubbock) for other blacksmiths to connect, build and support the craft.
Dean said that he finds beauty in the gears and pulleys and how things work together. He enjoys bringing the artistry out in the details of even the most functional objects like a knife. On each of his creations you will find an impression of Dean’s artistic touch as he strives to make each a one-of-a-kind piece.
Blacksmithing is an ancient trade which led into every element of the industrial revolution. It is also, unfortunately, a dying trade. Part of the mission for Livingston Forge is to keep that trade alive and pass it on to future generations. They do this through online streaming, school demonstrations and blacksmithing classes. Like the blacksmith shops of old, Livingston Forge can also help people with a repair, sharpening a blade and even thinking through a solution if a mechanism is broken. Because they have retail hours, Dean welcomes walk-ins to ask questions or see their shop.
The team also does commission pieces such as stair railings, arbors, and even range hood adornments. For their in-person classes, everyone is guaranteed to leave with a piece and Dean adjusts the curriculum to meet each student at their level. His goal is to work with them to forge their first project to completion. The Introduction to Blacksmithing class is 3 hours and participants leave with a completed item. Mr. Dean also offers an Intro to Bladesmithing Class where participants make their own blade. This class last 5 hours. Information on these classes can be found on their website at https://www.livingstonforge.com/.
Dean enjoys partnering with other local businesses and is participating in First Friday Art Trail where you can find his studio and retail space open to watch demonstrations and shop his finished work. The shop is just across the alley from Glassey Alley, an easy way to see both great venues during the art trail. Another local partnership Livingston has ‘forged’ is with Raiders Axe Galley Entertainment which uses Livingston Forge’s pieces for their customers to throw.
Livingston Forge is as much a labor of love as it is a small business. Dean has big aspirations for his business, to share a dying skill with the Lubbock community as well as building a legacy. The Livingston name is from his grandmother’s heritage, it is a legacy for his family and offering hope for an age-old craft so that future generations will see and understand the beauty possible with metal, a flame, and a hammer.