Featured Question and Chatting with Forrest: Bronze and Iron

Chatting with Forrest Fenn about bronze and ironDear Forrest,

You had mentioned that melding iron and bronze is difficult to do.  Would you explain a bit of the process on how it can be done and what makes them hard to marry?

Thanks so much, Jenny


Jenny, I like your use of the word melding instead of welding. Some would have used the latter in this context, which would have been incorrect, although debatable in some classrooms. I probably would not have thought to use your word, which is accurate, but arguable by those who are naturally bent to disagree.

Here is my take on the subject, and I offer it hoping no one will research my opinion. If I’m wrong please don’t tell me because I’m too old to change my mind.

The laws of physics insinuate that joining a ferrous metal to a non-ferrous metal is difficult, but may be accomplished with the use of a heliarc, which uses an inert gas that keeps oxygen away from the joining process. When heated to a high temperature iron will start to oxidize before it melts, where bronze will not.

So the secret to marrying the two metals is to keep the iron from oxidizing, thus making the two compatible. The inert gas does that. That’s my story and it always worked for me when I had a foundry, although some guys who are smarter than I am said I couldn’t do it. f

(Here are some photos of iron fireplace pokers that I welded to bronze heads. The human head is the famous rodeo clown Emmett Kelly. The other one is a cow head. I cast both bronzes and wrought the iron pokers myself.)

Forrest's Iron fireplace pokers with bronze heads

Forrest Fenn's bronze and iron cow head (2)


Forrest Fenn's bronze and Iron

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84 Responses

  1. Jenny Kile says:

    Thanks Forrest. Beautiful work.

    I’m glad you didn’t believe those who said it couldn’t be done……!! We all need that belief in ourselves!

  2. BW says:

    I’m afraid I don’t understand the physics stuff, but I like looking at the finished product.

  3. Ramona says:

    Very nice indeed.

  4. spallies says:

    Fascinating Forrest… Lol you made a Joker Poker and a Cow Poke. Cept Emmet might not be considered a Joker… But most clowns are Right?

  5. Ron Planesi says:

    If you know how to do it, it’s technology. If you don’t know how to do it and you see that it is done, it is magic. June 28–either magic or technology.

  6. decall says:

    You’re a talented man Forrest. Like you say, someone could look at these works 1,000 yrs from now and wonder what you were thinking and how you made those. I’ve TIG welded brass and bronze to steel a few times out of necessity… similar to brazing. Here is some Mokume and damascus steel made by my brother (the knife also)…


    (Mokume gane translates closely to “wood grain metal” or “wood eye metal”)
    adding new meaning to “in the wood”

  7. Carolyn says:

    Thank you for your great answer Forrest and your great question Jenny! I love to learn more about the bronze and pottery and I guess, any kind of craft like that. I find it very interesting and would like to learn how to do it all. I love the pokers Forrest! I thought you did an awesome job!

  8. locolobo says:

    WOW!! LOL!! Thanks Forrest, well said. Your choice of words, and usage of, never ceases to amaze me. You are correct, even something proven to be accurate never deters those who have a natural bent to disagree. Even when shown the finished product, in your case it was the pokers, I am sure there were those who said, “That’s not possible”. (I wonder if it’s something in the water they drink?? 🙂 )

    It is interesting that meld is also used in reference to “showing one’s cards”.

    And the pokers are both equally amazing, and beautiful! I would be proud to display them on my fireplace.

    –The Protector(rodeo clown) on one side and Wisdom(lead cow) on the other side.–

    Hope you had a great Father’s Day and that your garden is doing well!! 🙂

  9. 23kachinas says:

    We are living in an electromagnetic universe. Heliarc welders use an RF (radiofrequency) arc at a typical fundamental frequency of 2.6 MHz

    Forrest knows his electromagnetic spectrum from rainbows at 42 degrees to heliarc welders and beyond.

    “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” ….
    “The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.” ― Nikola Tesla

    • Geydelkon says:

      I like the way you think 23 but in the 4th dimension. I work with 63.87 Mhz and 127.77 Mhz. On can only see half the image 3db down. So I have to find the problem or put an X on it and send it back. Anyway, perhaps we can trade our knowledge some day for one of those.


      *An Indian Scout and a Saint*

      • 23kachinas says:

        Geydelkon – you may find this interesting since you work with medical technologies such as MRIs. The point is it’s always there you just have to think of a new way to see it.

        Giant plasma tubes found in SPACE: Huge structures spotted circling Earth filled with charged particles from the sun

        Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3107166/Giant-plasma-tubes-SPACE-Huge-structures-spotted-circling-Earth-filled-charged-particles-sun.html#ixzz3e0JQvB1n

        • Geydelkon says:

          Great article 23…. I have been fascinated with magnetism since I was a small child. Back in the day once a sound device was no longer functioning, I would take the magnets out of the speakers. I loved playing with them the magnets I mean. Then when I was in my 40’s I had one and I dropped in the dirt. I picked it up and tried to clean most of the earth off. But looking closer I noticed minute particles still attached in a ferrous kinda of way. At that same time I was operating a radar for M.I.T. Lincoln Labs in researching to develop the first wind-shear radar for the FAA. I studied the effects of weather and the relationship of lightning. In 1988 I had the first on-line (BB) weather reporting in the world. I was in Huntsville Al. There are some that claim they were the first. I would login into the BB and give weather reports and rain cell information to alert nearby cities of what I was tracking. Anyway, I worked with top lighting scientist in the country. I also worked with French lightning experts that were use HF triangulation to detect lighting strikes. I can go on and on to explain how I discovered the the effects of lighting created by the earths magnetic field and ferrous particles. Perhaps you can read all about it in my book “An Indian Scout and a Saint”. It will also include also some of my Thrill of the Chase adventures as well.

          E. T.

          • 23kachinas says:

            G – do you know about Venuzuela’s Catatumbo lightning?

            Definitely tell about your work…sounds interesting.

            • Geydelkon says:

              23, for some reason I like that number….. I had the opportunity to read a few articles on Venezuela’s Catatumbo lightning? Sorry, it took me so long to get back. I was up in Wy on another honeymoon. We had a great time like always. Even went up to the mummy cave. Now that was the highlight of our trip. The earth material was really interesting, it just wants me to buy a few acres up on the Shoshone or get a 99 year lease. I was a little disappointed that I didn’t bring a fishing pole. The water was pristine by the cave. Anyway, what was your question?

              • Geydelkon says:

                23, Catatumbo has some interesting geological features that could produce substantial lightning activity in that region due to windshear. I am not a geologist but I find most is the lightning that volcanoes make when they erupt. It is the same principle that during divergent upper level winds and rotation through the earths magnetic field. I have never seen any eruption live but I am sure many can produce lightning just like the Mazama eruption. That must of been a doozy leaving traces far away.

  10. anna says:

    There will always be naysayers. It’s nice to hear a “can-do, I-did” story Forrest. I enjoyed learning about heliarc/tungsten used in melding and reading about ‘Weary Willie.’ He must have been a friend of yours.

    My question for you Forrest…Is there anything you haven’t attempted? Poet, fighter pilot, author, metals artist, foundry chemist, archaeologist, photographer, bird whisperer, antiquities diver, conservationist, gallery owner, artist promoter, fishing guide, collector with a capital C, friend of movie stars, family man…..

  11. Eliza says:



    (= MELTS >>>> SMELT?)

    More letter twins.

    If you look at twin Xs (XX) you can see a W above and an M below, as in:

    William Marvin
    Welding Melding
    Writings Mysterious

    The pictures of the pokers might correspond to two horizontal and two vertical lines. If you cross the two pairs correctly, and adjust a bit, you can get a XX. This could be used as a simple blaze that honors both a father as well as a mother who happened to be a twin…

  12. anna says:

    I had previously believed that when exposed to air bronze patinized to different shades of green. So, I found this info interesting. Who knows what color we are looking for? Or, if Forrest coated the Romanesque box with a thin layer of wax or mineral spirits to protect it’s original bronze color.

    “All bronze is an alloy, or a mixture of metals comprised of mainly copper mixed with other metals, usually tin and zinc. Bronze will oxidize when exposed to air, developing a patina coating. A brown, black, red or blue to green coating on bronze is a sign of normal, harmless corrosion. This outer layer protects the inner layers of the bronze object from deteriorating. This coating is sometimes considered attractive or desirable, as well.”

  13. Jdiggins says:

    Forrest, is there anything you can’t do? Anything you haven’t tried that you want to? Anything you really did hooray at? Your attache’ is absolutely thrilling and romantic! 🙂

  14. Hi Jenny,

    As usual Forrest is very informative and interesting – this shows his wisdom, craftiness, and skill.

    To meld those was difficult and you can see the beauty in his works.

    Considering he was the architect that designed The Thrill of the Chase, and “the answers he already

    knows” – it comes as no surprise to me : )

  15. Iron Will says:

    When heated to a high temperature iron will start to oxidize before it melts,

    LOL cute.

    • Spallies says:

      Ha, ha I saw that too Iron and thought of you!!! Is he perhaps referencing you in this post? You still have a few days don’t you?

      • Iron Will says:

        I wish I knew whether it was his intention or Pareidolia. It’s OK not knowing though. 10% as it seems, just doesn’t have the power to fight back against 90%. I guess it’s just all about the math 🙁

    • astree says:

      I saw that too, Iron Will. I wouldn’t doubt it, but shouldn’t affect the puzzle work one way or the other.

      Iron Oxide = Rust (so, I think Forrest is referencing the rate of oxidation).

      ( I wouldn’t want to be standing on the other side of the wall when he put that poker in it… I know, I know … How deep is a hole? )

      • anna says:

        Astree – here’s an abstract tie-in to both rusty and bull..

        Forrest’s favorite rescue dog was Rusty, and his car the Bullet.
        Forrest’s dear friend Suzanne Somers starred in films called “Bullitt” and “Rusty, A dog’s tale”
        She’s also an amazing person who overcame an abusive father, and dyslexia to succeed in the art world before film, author, health/nutrician advocate, etc.

        • astree says:

          Thanks, anna. I was aware that Suzanne Somers was a friend of his. The rest is new to me – interesting how the information parallels itself.

  16. BW says:

    Mr. Fenn,

    What happened to the other half of the cow’s head?

    Is that the same cow head sticking out of the wall?

    Jenny, do you know the answers? Questions, questions, questions!

    • BW says:

      One question has been answered. What I thought was a hole in the cow head, is a shadow across the side of the head. 🙂

      Do you think I need to ask for a refund from my eye surgeon?

  17. john g. says:

    Really Forrest, that’s interesting to know about iron, bronze oxidation… Sitting here at home reading your answer to Jenny. I have a question, if no one has solved the first few of the clue’s from your poem has any two solved several?

  18. Thomas D says:

    Forrest you are correct again as usual.

    I worked in the foundry industry for many years and have considerable experience melding dis-similar metals together.

    I enjoyed your answer and your examples.


  19. astree says:

    I wonder if he put a twist in them to help one get a better grip.

    • Jdiggins says:

      Why is one poking it’s head out of the wall? Really, why is that poker in that nasty looking hole? What’s the point here? Or should I say, what’s the poke? Snort snort! 🙂

      • Jenny Kile says:

        Hi, to answer about the poker in the wall……I took that picture while visiting with Forrest. It is in the wall right beside his fireplace and so is easily accessible when wanted….. That’s where he keeps the one….lol…. perfect and practical….:)

        • Jdiggins says:

          Thx jenny. 🙂
          I feel like an idiot now, sorry forrest, it’s a beautiful nasty Ole hole…lol…no its not…but it looks used! 😉

          • JC1117 says:

            LOL! I hope Forrest isn’t reading this. What a weird group he’ll think we are. I just hope to have a cozy den just like Forrest’s one day. I may not have all those awesome things, but I can probably score me a poker in a hole…and liquor on the…where was that again?…oh, yeah…liquor on the SHELF. Sorry, my mind wanders…but I’m really not a shelfish person. I’ll just clam up now. 🙂

          • Jdiggins says:

            Y’know, the more I examine that hole with that poker, I realize I love forrest even more! That’s a hole like you’d find at MY house, not a gozillionaire! 🙂 and that, my friends, is awesome. I always wonder about your thoughts forrest. I wonder when you were the fidgety little boy in that Lanier school pic; when you sought Lewis and Clark with donny; when you kept your eye on that bomb; did you EVERYONE imagine you would be described as an eccentric millionaire? That, I wonder, among other things. 🙂

            • Jdiggins says:

              Ever imagine, not everyone.
              Smart phones sure can make a person look dumb!

            • JC1117 says:

              I have noticed that, too, Jdiggins. Forrest is a down-to-earth gentleman. Many wealthy people are very snobby and pretentious…a great many, in fact, but not Forrest. I have worked for lots of rich people over several decades. I have met some really nice wealthy people and others …well …not so much. That’s a long discussion for another day. Suffice it to say…when someone cares about others it shows…even if only God knows for a little while. You know…”let not your left hand know what your right hand doeth” and all that. But Word gets out. It always does. “By their fruits ye shall know them”. 🙂

              Once in a while a person comes along who breaks the mold. That’s Forrest Fenn.

        • spallies says:

          Hi Jenny, Where does he keep the other one? Did you see…? Perhaps another fireplace with a hole in the wall?

  20. Jenny says:

    Forrest sent me the following link and I just posted it on my Facebook page, but there is a wide shot of his office in there…and if you look to the left…..you can see the tiny ‘cow poker’ giving a peek out of his hole…lol..!


    It’s an awesome article too!! Summarizes The Thrill of the Chase very nicely…..!!

  21. Jdiggins says:

    Excellent article! Thanks Jenny, and thank you forrest! 🙂
    I would leave it lie forever if it kept you alive! 🙂

  22. 23kachinas says:

    Nice article on CA Sunday. I see Forrest is still cozy in his cuddles 🙂

  23. Mark J says:

    I have always been annoyed by those that say something can’t be done without trying it first.

  24. Jazzy says:

    I’ll be darned never saw that one head has a hole in the side of it. Totally rad!!

  25. Judy Ms.Girl says:

    Hey Ya’ll hope all of you had a wonderful 4th of July!! I have just seen these wonderful bronze’s of the walking canes is that what they are? The are magnificent, I want to make some sometimes. My Mama used to make ceramics years ago when I was a child.She has a nice Statue of a Lady holding an urn and my Sister and I fight over who will end up with it all of the time. These are great pieces and done so beautifully I will have to check into some place around here and see what goes into making and casting such fine art….LOL So rustic yet refined. I need them to add to my collection of favorite things in my house…. Just chatting a little to all The Thrill of the Chase Searchers my regular g-mail account on my pc will not let me post on Dal’s site!! when I get on someone else’s pc it goes straight through… Still in the chase MS. Girl Judy Williams…..

  26. Judy Ms.Girl says:

    Now I see they are fireplace pokers and have a bit of humor about them Forrest!! You did an awesome Job how old are they? The process is quite fascinating I still would love to give them a try to make my own maybe a wolf on top of one and maybe a pirate head on the other just for fun. Too extreme for a first try maybe I can just make the pokers with no heads I could do that just fire them up and then I could use them along the trails as walking sticks and stick a snake and stab him before he strikes…. I hate snakes and do not have any use for them at all. Anyhoo Great Pokers..See you in the funny papers MS. Girl

  27. Kowboy says:

    Has anyone noticed all the cow talk F does.

    Skippy zapping flies (in it he talks about cows)

    Mentions cow boy throughout the book bessie etc

    This post mentions a cow poker

    Eric Slosne copper cow

  28. Heidini says:

    Ah, Forrest. You did it again. “Rodeo” clown. Thanks. I saw the marker for him. Thanks for helping the world not to forget him. Markers are important. I hear imagination is important, also.

  29. HappyThoth says:

    not far BUTT oo FART

    • HappyThoth says:

      bronze and iron married
      it takes a wisand old wizard
      a mere line
      to connect the dots

      • HappyThoth says:

        Offered by a child to an old man; which is wit-old. (WHITTLED)

      • Point Foot says:

        My 7 year old enjoys completing connect the dot drawings when we go to restaurants. I love watching her. I think as we grow up we can sometimes forget the simple things that are so easy for the young.

        I eagerly await my next family adventure in the Rockies later this year. I think sometimes about how children so look forward to birthdays and holidays especially Christmas time. It’s rare to feel that feeling. Thank you Forrest for creating this adventure that allows us all to feel like children again! It is a gift beyond imagination!

        • JC1117 says:

          Like Christmas morning, Point Foot.

          Good Ol’ Sandy Claws. A Good Analogy. Great Parents trying to replicate those feelings and experiences for their children…


          Thanks, Forrest!

          • JC1117 says:


            Maybe somebody should be asking this kid. He has a great imagination…

            “Adios, Bart! But if you do come back…you’ll be pushin’ up daisies!”


            • pdenver says:

              I wonder if “you know who” looks over his fence with his BB gun. Maybe even hops in his ammunition wagon and does some pretending. (Giggle.)

              • Point Foot says:

                That made me laugh. 🙂

              • JC1117 says:

                I can kinda see that in my mind’s eye, PDenver.

                The BB gun isn’t pointed over the fence at the neighbors in the East.

                It’s the neighbors in the Wild, Wild West you gotta keep an eye on. lol!

                That ammo wagon looks like a good place to shoot from. Those double-thick walls were likely designed to keep a stray BB…or two…from settin’ off the whole show. M

                On second thought…maybe not such a great place to hide out after all.

          • pdenver says:

            My oldest granddaughter and grandson got one this past Christmas. Not sure if my granddaughter used hers yet, but my oldest daughter sent me a video of my grandson plinking targets and cans in their backyard. This year, the grandkids are getting a telescope to do some stargazing.

            • Point Foot says:

              I love that. My youngest love to get me playing in their games too. How can we not partake in the fun. They grow up too quick and then we just have the memories to cherish. I think if I had a large property with a wall and wagons I’d be out there with BB gun too. 🙂

              • pdenver says:

                They do grow up quickly. I remember good times when the same grandson would come over and he and I would pretend we were on a jungle safari. He’d wear a small set of binoculars looking for animals; usually monkeys. I’d peel a banana for him so that he could offer it to the monkeys we’d see. 🙂

  30. John R says:

    If you can figure out the clues in this post then you will have the key word that folks are looking for. Read the post again, think of Thor and hats, especially the female variety.

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