I photographed a blacksmith and somehow didn’t even have to travel back in time. Jacques Gallant is his name and he wears many metal hats, from blacksmith to welder, metal fabricator to bike frame builder. Jacques is the fourth in my Montreal Artists series, in which I'm documenting the creative process and workspaces of various artists, artisans, makers, and crafts(wo)men in Montreal. Many years ago there was a pickle factory on St-Laurent street in Montreal. An Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Jacques' metalwork shop have since taken over that space. It's a huge space with two big skylights. There’s a wall full of reclaimed wood, another one covered with his arsenal of hammers. There are massive sharpening, drilling, cutting, and sanding machines that I should probably avoid if I want to keep all of my fingers.
These are Jacques’ hands after a workday. Still has 10 fingers, he's a pro.
In the shop there’s also a forge and a welder, which can reach temperatures of a few thousand degrees (Celcius I think, but Celcius or Farenheit, it doesn’t matter - if you touch it you'll regret it). Jacques could actually describe how it feels like to get your skin burned at different temperatures, ranging from the sharp burns where you jerk your hand back immediately, to those where your skin becoming foamy and sticky. Didn’t seem like much fun, so I took a step back.
His work, like his workshop, is full of character. He custom-builds everything. The first time I met him (at the Smart Design fair), he had brought small furniture items that combined steel and wood beautifully. When I visited him this time, he was building something for the Dispatch coffee food truck and had been working on a few bike frames.
I asked Jacques what was the quintessential item that represents him and his work. He quickly grabbed a particular hammer. It’s simple, rugged but with smooth edges. He made it from scratch, starting with a big piece of wood and a big piece of metal.
If you have a project in mind and need something made drop him a message, he’s super friendly. Check out some of his work at Solutions Gallant.
Click here to check out the gallery with the other Montreal Artists I've photographed!