Inspired by the forest around him, Anthony Cateaux turns metal into whimsical works of art in his Yellow Point studio.
Cateaux, a blacksmith artisan who owns AC Designs Ironwork, has been turning to nature for ideas since moving his family and his studio from Toronto to Yellow Point eight years ago.
“We came here on vacation, and I fell in love with the Island,” he said. “The whole family did.”
Cateaux has worked as a blacksmith artisan since 1994 and has shipped his original work all around the world. He started AC Designs Ironwork in 1997.
Cateaux, who is a member of the Vancouver Blacksmith Association and the North American Blacksmith Association, produces three types of works: commissioned functional art objects such as tables and chairs, unique one-of-a-kind artistic pieces such as sculptures and wall-mounted art, and much-sought-after home furnishings such as mirrors, obelisks, tables and much more. Whatever the item, all pieces are painstakingly hand worked and forged.
In Toronto, Cateaux worked mainly with landscapers and interior designers. While studying landscape architecture at Ryerson University in Toronto, Cateaux did an apprenticeship with an Austrian blacksmith and became very interested in design.
“I’m always happy figuring out a design dilemma,” he said.
Working with others whose work he admired, Cateaux learned about blacksmithing and forging iron, and he made a lot of unique pieces of hand-forged furniture. He worked with another blacksmith in Santa Cruz before returning to Ontario and opening his own shop, which he ran in downtown Toronto for six years.
Cateaux says his work has kind of changed direction since he moved to the Island, moving a bit away from the furniture.
“I’ve started to make more artistic pieces, pieces that are not as functional,” he said.
Since moving here, one of the directions Cateaux has been going is one that leads to the creation of unique birdhouses.
One of Cateaux’s birdhouses was chosen by Anne Schmauss for her critically-acclaimed coffee table hardcover, Birdhouses of the World. Schmauss searched the world over to find the most interesting creations and included Cateaux’s Scream birdhouse in her book. His birdhouse was then mentioned in the LA Times.
Cateaux’s birdhouse was inspired by the Edvard Munch painting “The Scream.”
They had cut down an old alder tree in the front of their yard, and it had a hollow centre and a woodpecker had knocked a hole in it. That’s all the inspiration Cateaux needed.
“I thought, ‘wow, this would make a neat birdhouse,’” he said.
Cateaux put a roof on it, and turned it into a face, with the woodpecker hole turned into a mouth, and he put copper hands around the face.
Cateaux put this birdhouse online on Houzz, an interior design website, and Schmauss called him because she’d come across Cateaux’s image online and really liked it.
Cateaux learned in a coke forge shop, and he now uses a gas forge, which stays at a constant heat level.
Cateaux says a lot of his ideas come from nature.
“I like to incorporate natural things in my work, raw materials like wood and stone,” he said. “Often times, I’ll just see something and get an idea.”
Cateaux loves to work with iron.
“I love the longevity of it,” he said. “I love the fact I’m able to make something and it will stand the test of time. That’s always intrigued me. I like the idea of leaving my mark, not being forgotten.”
He also loves the process of taking something from an idea to a reality.
“I love the idea of being able to sit down and have an idea and draw it on paper and then, the next day, be able to execute it,” he said. “It’s awesome to be able to see something as an idea and then have it as a physical form. I also like that people like your work.”
Cateaux likes to make one-of-a-kind original pieces.
“I did a lot of custom work in Ontario, so I’m always happy to work with people if they have ideas,” he said.
Cateaux launched a new garden collection inspired by elements of nature this spring, and he has been showcasing his work during The Artist’s Garden Studio & Garden Tour, which has been running all summer and continues through to Sept. 14.
Cateaux is opening his studio at 3307 DeCourcy Dr. to the public weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The studio is closed Thursdays and open by appointment on Saturdays and Sundays. Visitors will have the rare opportunity to watch Cateaux while he forges and hammers metal into art.
For more information, visit www.acdesignsironwork.com or call Cateaux at 250-722-3938 or 250-740-5353.