A Chadds Ford Painter Discovers Blacksmithing
Katee Boyle set up her own metal shop, Scarlett Forge.
Katee Boyle was an artist even as a teenager—always drawing, always painting. A graduate of Padua Academy, she was itching to get to New York City to explore her talents. She received her BFA with honors in painting from the School of the Visual Arts in New York, as well as degrees in illustration from FIT and Cooper Union. “My teachers told me to go out and network at night,” she remembers. “I was shy but quickly understood the importance of it.”
Boyle spent about 12 years in the city, working in anything illustration and art related. She eventually got a job in artistry, then operations and events, with MAC Cosmetics, which landed her back in Pennsylvania. But then she was laid off after 11 years. “So I started painting again,” says Boyle.
Boyle never thought she would end up back in Chadds Ford. But now that she’s close to family and raising her children here, there’s no place she’d rather be. And now, the artist can focus solely on her passions.
About two years ago, Boyle decided to take a welding course with Stan Smokler, a steel sculptor who teaches at Delaware College of Art and Design. “I wanted to explore the texture of the surface of my paintings by working in multiple disciplines,” says Boyle, whose artwork includes acrylics, ground-up pastel pigment, fabric and even fiberglass.
There was something she liked about it—the bending of the metal and working with the torch. She created a few pieces and included them in a show a month later.
Someone came to a show who loved her metal-work. “He was pretty savvy with the metal talk, so I asked him what he did,” Boyle says.
The man was Rob Sigafoos, a blacksmith for over 30 years and the lead farrier at the University of Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center for large-animal medicine in Kennett Square. After a visit to his workshop, she began an apprenticeship with him—and a love affair with blacksmithing.
The first piece the two collaborated on is the public-art sign outside Philter coffeehouse in downtown Kennett Square. Boyle and Sigafoos spent four months at his Vinewoods Forge studio forging steel to create the one-of-a-kind work.
Last year, Boyle set up her own metal shop, Scarlett Forge, on the historic Chester County farm Scarlett Thicket in Kennett Square. Locally, her sculptures and paintings can be found at Shish Interiors, a small shop in Wilmington, at Salt + Stone in Kennett Square, and at Eastcote Lane in Devon. “I often think of my utilitarian pieces as a gateway to my paintings and sculptures,” says Boyle. “They’re pieces you never knew you needed until you have them in your environment.”
The past November, Boyle was part of the Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design Fair (SOFA) in Chicago, the premier gallery-presented event dedicated to three-dimensional art and design. She’s currently exhibiting new work in a show at the Oxford Arts Alliance curated by Stan Smokler.
To learn more, visit www.kateeboyle.weebly.com. Studio visits by appointment; commissions are welcomed.