Crafting Metal

By Beacon Staff

If you’ve traveled around Lakeside you may have noticed something. If you’ve dined at the Tamarack Brewing Company, or sipped coffee at Glacier Perks Coffee House, you may noticed something similar: the work of local metal artist Scott Eisenlohr.

Eisenlohr operates the “Ironbird Forge and Hammer” on Bierney Creek Road. Inside his shop, he has crafted dozens of metal gates around Lakeside. You’ll likely see them even on just a short drive around the lake.

You’ll also find his craftsmanship in the table trays at the Tamarack Brewing Company (and some of his other work inside and outside). And he’s also created the unique napkin/service trays that adorn the tables at the Glacier Perks Coffee House (he also had a hand in the metal work on the tables themselves and the décor as well).

His metal craft is as unique as his customers who request motifs from all corners of the imagination. Much of their requests seem to have common a thread: depictions of nature and animals. For example, Eisenlohr has crafted gates that resemble cat tails, birds of every kind, eagle claws, bears catching fish and dozens of other representations of nature.

In creating his work, Eisenlohr uses a combination of the best of “old world” and “cutting edge” techniques and technologies. For example, inside his shop you’ll find a “Little Giant” power hammer – made in 1915. It was first shipped by railroad car to the Flathead Valley (he still has the original bill of lading). It has been here since and is now put to use making impressions of tree bark and other textures for Eisenlohr’s custom projects.

Next to the massive, nearly 100-year-old Little Giant stands a computer set-up with a 3D modeling software and a large plasma-cutting station. With these “modern tools,” Eisenlohr can model and fabricate just about any design in metal using the software and the plasma cutter.
Aside from building gates, fireplace accessories and tableware items, Eisenlohr also builds just about anything in metal. A recent visit to his shop found Eisenlohr building a metal gate for the Lakeside Community Garden – while his son Will was building a cargo trailer nearly the size of the shop itself.

The cargo trailer was being put together with meticulous care. And never mind the adage “measure twice, cut once,” Will seemed to be following the more cautious-minded Russian proverb: “Measure seven times, cut once” in making precision parts for the trailer and squaring its frame.

Yet amid all the clamor inside the shop, there was somehow a harmony, much like the harmony in much of the pastoral scenes captured in the metal work itself. And there was certainly a harmony among the two generations, working side-by-side plying their trade in forging and metal work, who incidentally bear the family name “Eisenlohr” – “eisen” means iron in German.

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