Wayne Frame of Cedaredge and his wife, Jan, have succeeded with those really important things in life over the course of their 49-year marriage.
And so when Wayne, a retired electrical engineer, heads for his backyard shop it is with a mind unfettered by worldly cares and free to interact with his personal work space. There, Wayne brings his own talent and skill to bear on basic elements of nature — the elements of controlled fire and of applied force— and he creates works of art.
Wayne has created a personal backyard workspace that is as unique, varied, and capable as the man himself who holds no fewer than 13 U.S. patents. And the work that comes out of Wayne’s shop is masterfully unique as well.
Wayne is well known in Delta County as the “Pioneer Town Blacksmith” who fires the forge and hammers out handmade nails as souvenirs for visitors to Cedaredge’s living heritage museum. But, what some people may not know is that Wayne’s blacksmithing hobby is far more than an entertaining diversion.
Wayne’s friends know him as the creator of authentic, full-sized suits of armor, called harnesses, that are modeled after the authentic styles that came from the forges and workshops of medieval Europe and England.
Wayne had been blacksmithing as a hobby since 1984 when, in 1989 during a business trip to London, England, he took the opportunity and visited the Royal Armory Museum. There, the spark of inspiration lit the fires of imagination.
Deeply impressed by the examples of historical armor he saw on display, Wayne returned and eventually managed to make connections with the top modern day English tradesman in the centuries-old craft of armoring. That contact led Wayne to spend an entire week as “apprentice to the master” learning secrets of the armor making craft at the forge of “the best armorer in England.” Wayne is still the keeper of some armorer’s trade secrets that have been handed down unwritten from apprentice to master since the time of the Renaissance.
A visit to Wayne’s Weeping Willow Forge workshop in Cedaredge is like a journey into a cultural past. It is a quick study of the ancient industry that hammered out arms of battle for the Crusades, and for Camelot. The results of Wayne’s daily labors in his Weeping Willow Forge are more than works of art. Wayne’s creations are examples of authentic ancient trade craft. They are an exploration, an experience, and a celebration of an epoch in the ascendancy of western civilization.
Wayne makes the tools of his armoring trade at the forge as well, heating the steel until it glows and then hammering it on the ringing anvil into shapes custom designed for his work. But not everything that comes from Wayne’s shop is hand forged from hot steel, nor harkens back to the “old ways” of doing things. Wayne has found room in his efficient workspace for an up-to-date lathe and a milling machine that would be right at home in a modern production machine shop. He fabricated a metal shaping English wheel, and designed and built his own floor-standing hammer mill for specialized work.
Wayne takes his blacksmithing avocation seriously. He is a member of the Rocky Mountain Smiths trade group, and he edits the organization’s quarterly publication “Forge Facts” to which he has contributed articles. The group will hold its three-day annual conference in Carbondale at the first of August.
Wayne and Jan have three of his harnesses on display in their home. Wayne is working now on a fourth one in his shop. Each takes more than a year to complete.
But Wayne’s work at the forge has produced a lot more besides medieval armor. Wayne has created other artifacts that excel in utility and beauty. A glass-top coffee table and copper-top hallway stand are two examples in the Frames’ home. An elegant iron-and-copper vase and a mounted bowl also display a true artist’s touch.
Men love their shop space. But while most are content with a workbench in the garage and the weekend homeowner project or occasional oil change, Wayne has taken his workshop endeavors to an entirely new level.
The ability to design, fabricate, and create in the unique workspace is limited only by the workman’s skill and imagination. Those are hardly limitations at all for the creative imagination of Wayne Frame.
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