Have you ever had plans backfire on you? Well then, you know what I mean when I say, “This is not how it was supposed to go.” Late in 2014 with three and a half years invested in college, my advanced achieving son quit school. Great! Now we had to find a way to keep him out of the bars. I should mention that he worked in a bar. Sadly, he made more money working there part-time than some people with college degrees make working full time. All that cash and free time seemed like a recipe for trouble so, we encouraged him to start a business. That's how, in February 2015, FORGE-APRONS was officially launched.
Here's where it backfired. The website was up, word was getting around and orders were starting to roll in when one of my son’s friends told him about a great paying job traveling the country climbing 300 plus feet in the air performing audits on cell phone towers. It wasn't long before my son gave me his notice to which I loudly proclaimed, “What?" Followed by, "You can’t give me notice, this is your business! I was just helping you get started.” Now, running Forge-Aprons keeps me out of the bars!
Turns out I enjoy it! Ever since meeting my husband, George Witzke, I have been passionate about the art of blacksmithing. George has been a professional blacksmith since 1994. We met shortly after that and he graciously allowed me to meddle in his business and help it grow. My background in retail proved a valuable asset. We started out doing craft shows, then moved on to art shows and gradually transitioned into custom work. After the economy crashed, we shifted yet again to forging production ironwork that we sold through gift shops and galleries. We now spend half a year by the East entrance of Zion National Park in Utah where George and his partner, Gordon Williams, entertain and harass tourists while doing blacksmithing demonstrations. The other half of our year is spent in New Mexico building inventory. (Update* In January 2017, we moved to Kanab, Utah permanently.)
Though I never was able to refine my hammer skills on metal, I have become pretty good at hammering rivets on aprons. When time allows, I also do marketing work; building websites, creating newsletters and print ads, etc. I started and administrate a Facebook page called Blacksmithing Classes which connects those interested in learning or, furthering their blacksmith skills, with instructors and schools. I am a past board member of the Arizona Artist Blacksmith Association where I served one term as President. I enjoy the people involved in blacksmithing as much as the craft and Forge-Aprons is just one more way for me to connect with the blacksmith community.
As for my son, he is still involved in decisions about Forge-Aprons and may one day return to it but for now, he enjoys seeing the world from 300 feet up. He has a lovely new bride and they are busy building a life together. We anxiously await grandchildren from them as our other five grandkids are growing up fast. ~April Witzke
back in 1998 blacksmith's helper, Dalton makes horse head hoof picks out of recycled horseshoes.
Loving life and making aprons!
George and April working at the FORGE-APRON booth at ABANA 2016. They fit over 65 smiths with custom leather aprons.
300 plus feet up in the air!
My husband George is a working blacksmith. He not only models my apron designs but he also tests the prototypes.