In the Beginning

 

A Forged Friendship

A life-long friendship began while attending high school in eastern North Carolina between Francis Vega and Neal Carlton. They went their separate ways after graduating, but reconnected in 1981. That was when they discovered a shared passion to create and make art with iron. Weekends were spent scouring flea markets for traditional blacksmith tools. An old tobacco barn was converted to work space. They even hand built their own coal fired forge to heat the metal they would hand hammer. That’s when their studies, explorations and experimentation with forging metal really got serious.

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Neal Carlton (left) and Francis Vega (right) hand forging metal

Beginning the Vega Metals Venture

Six years later, in 1987, Vega Metals Inc. was formed and a working studio set up in Durham, North Carolina. Over the years, the company has conceptualized and produced thousands of site-specific architectural metalwork. Vega Metals has been the recipient of seven international awards for metal work and featured in numerous  trade publications. Several books devoted to the art of blacksmithing have  included  our work. Our favorite book”The Contemporary Blacksmith” by Dona Meilach, features our work, as well as that of many other artist blacksmiths. 

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Hand painted mural on the side of our Durham, North Carolina studio

 Luck Found in the Hearth of the Forge (How we go the name “Cricket”)

 Recalling the day of naming the company, in 1999, there really was an actual cricket close to the forge. And Francis spotted it. The saying goes that Crickets bring good luck. So wa-lah! we got our name. So, anyway, we wanted to expand, reach a wider audience, and have some creative fun. The first bench designed under the Cricket Forge name was the Butterfly Bench.It is now known as our signature piece and continues to be our best seller.

Don Drumm: Mentor, Friend, Partner

Cricket Forge partners with artist/sculptor Don Drumm of Akron, Ohio. Don is a prolific designer who works primarily in cast aluminum and pewter. However, when Don has a design concept to be constructed in aluminum or steel, he puts it in the hands of Cricket Forge. Cricket Forge then takes his work to final form, bringing life to his spirited and whimsical art.

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Neal Carlton captured in a pensive moment

Sadly, in April of 2013 we lost Francis Vega to cancer. The tradition of both Vega Metals and Cricket Forge continues on, lovingly,  with Neal and Francis’ wife, Cindy.