Kirk McNeillKirk McNeill is the artist-blacksmith of Freedom Forge, specializing in custom architectural metalwork. He has been smithing since 1981. He has served as a board member of the California Blacksmith Association. He has been a member of the CBA grant committee for 20 years. Kirk has also served as general chairman for two successful conferences, (2002, and 2015) He is an active member of ABANA (Artist-Blacksmiths Association of North America). In 1990 he attended the International Teaching Center for Metal Design in Aachen, Germany, where he honed his skills in the European craft tradition. Journeying smiths and metal artists call Freedom forge home on a regular basis keeping the creative well refreshed.He was introduced to smithing while pursuing the idea of a career as a stone and bronze sculptor. He first got his hands on hot steel while taking a tool making class at Cabrillo College in Aptos Calif., and after that forged metal became his medium.At his shop on Santa Cruz’s West Side, he works with hot forged iron, bronze and copper, creating unique architectural metalwork in designs modern and historical. In recent years Kirk has begun creating large scale forged sculpture. A life long passion for the ocean and oceanic forms is coming to fruition in these recent works. Staying within the medium of the forged and fabricated form, he is exploring many possibilities. Traditional techniques have their place as well as modern fabrication methods. When the economy slowed in 2009 Kirk began teaching basic Blacksmithing classes. Many of his former students form the core of the Ocean Awareness Group.