Working in Clark County: Nick Marcelja, blacksmith

By Mary Ricks, Columbian news assistant




Working in Clark County, a brief profile of interesting Clark County business owners or a worker in the public, private, or nonprofit sector. Send ideas to Mary Ricks: mary.ricks@columb...; fax 360-735-4598; phone 360-735-4550.

After burning out in the computer science industry, Nick Marcelja turned his blacksmithing hobby into his business. "I had been doing historical creations for the Society for Creative Anachronism," Marcelja said. "It took me about six months to get my business running. When someone says they want to buy what you have made it is rewarding. Although I don't make a lot of money, I am happy."

Name: Nick Marcelja.

Job/employer: Owns Red Troll Forge, 2800 N.E. 172 Ave., Vancouver.

Age: 53.

Education/professional background: I studied computer science in college and worked in the business until I got burned out, about 1995. It took me about six months to get my business running. I started my business part time and it became full time about 2000. I make general camping equipment, historical cooking pots and things to use in the kitchen like knives, spatulas, ladles. I do make some smaller window gates but I am not set up to make large gates. I also make custom swords.

Residence: East county.

What is the Society of Creative Anachronism? It is an international living history group with the aim of studying and re-creating mainly Medieval European cultures and their histories before the 17th century.

Most rewarding part of job: When someone says they want to buy what you have made. It is rewarding when someone likes your work. I try to have samples of my work so they can see what is available because customers don't always know what they want.

Most challenging part of job: The most challenging part of the job is making really fancy patterned (Damascus) welded steel for something like a sword. It takes a lot longer to get it straight and to the correct length. If it isn't right, your day's work is for nothing. Note: Damascus steel was the legendary material used in Middle Eastern swordmaking, characterized by distinctive patterns of banding and mottling.

Personal/business philosophy: I try to make items that someone will buy.

Who buys your products? There is a limited market for fancy knives. I attend historical events like Renaissance fairs to sell my products. I will be at the Oregon Renaissance Festival in Hillsboro, Ore., for several upcoming weekends. My equipment fits in my truck and people can see me working.

One word to describe yourself: Big and hairy. I am over 6 feet tall and have a big bushy beard.

Something you would like to do over: Nothing. It has been fun doing something I like.

Best feature of my Vancouver/Clark County community: Our area has a pretty good art community. It is nice that you can get out in the country easy.

Favorite restaurant/pub/coffee shop/store: I like Arawan Thai Cuisine and Sushi Hana.

Hobbies: I like the tabletop miniature war game "War Hammer 40K."

Favorite travel destination: I don't really travel just for travel. I travel to and from events.

Most interesting book in last 12 months: One of my favorite authors is David Mark Weber, who writes American science fiction and fantasy books series. I also like sci-fi books by David Drake.

One thing you want to do this year: I have two large sword projects I want to finish.

Something you want to do within five years: I would like to be busy all the time and have a waiting list of clients.

Person you'd most like to meet: I would like to meet a couple of blacksmiths that make some of the larger gates and do the fancy scroll railings.