With the forge fired up, Casey Richey draws lines and curls on his worktable and works thin strips of iron into mathematical spirals, making scrolls and their forms for ornamental ironwork at The Iron Shop at 1351 SE Stephens St.
Richey left his company that hired three to five people in Riverside, California, Richey Ironworks, where he described his day as answering “50 million calls and 20 questions.” Instead, he bought a fixer-upper family house in Roseburg in February.
“It’s just madness when you have that kind of workforce backing you up,” Richey said. “It makes it to where it’s not fun anymore. Being back here, being by myself, keeping things small and simple has brought the fun back into the job. It makes it to where I’m excited about what I do again.”
It’s just him, his little shed where he works out the shapes and an office no bigger than a moving truck on the fifth of an acre lot in downtown Roseburg. He and his wife decided they wanted to live life at a slower pace than they were when he was designing ornamental ironwork for homes in Beverly Hills and businesses on Rodeo Drive.
“It just got to the point where I just wanted to slow life down,” Richey said. “We knew that we didn’t want to move from one big city to another. The place that kind of hit the happy medium spot was Roseburg. It was just big enough for us to open a business and create a living and still have the small town feel.”
Richey has been working with metal for over 15 years, but started pursuing ornamental ironwork so he could do more custom work and give customers a design that fit their mood. He said he wanted his work to fit his customers the way fences at Disneyland fit each ride.
“Anything I do is pretty much custom work that you probably won’t see on another project,” Richey said. “When you come and seek out something custom, it’s kind of like a dream. In your mind, you have a vision of what it’s going to look like and how it’s going to fit your life. That’s what I enjoy most about this here and that’s why I really focus on one-off custom stuff because it’s an experience.”
Richey makes scroll forms, which act as molds to form the metal to when heated, for each project. He starts with a sketch and then calculates how the spirals will fit. He wanted a space downtown in the “public eye,” despite his lack of options in that area when he went looking.
“I wanted to be in the historical downtown area because as a blacksmith kind of custom iron guy, to be in the downtown area really fit the bill,” Richey said. “Whenever you go into a downtown area, nothing’s new, nothings crisp, everything’s old and has lots of character. With a business like mine, there’s lots of character that comes with it too and I felt like a downtown area is what fit me the best.”
He had his old friends bring up hundreds of pieces of custom ironwork from Southern California to get started, but he can’t seem to keep it in the lot. On Thursday, a truck for Portland drove to his shop and bought most of what he had in stock.
“Most of it’s custom work, all per order,” Richey said. “Whatever you see in the yard is usually leftover from a job that I’ll sell.”
He said he would like to set up displays in the yard, but it’s labor intensive and he hasn’t had time to put it together outside of his regular work yet.
“I’m hoping just to bring my services to the next level and offer things that veterans in the field in this town can’t offer,” Richey said. “They’ve done a great job servicing the community so far, I’m just hoping to help out and kind of extend what’s available.”