Robert Thomas Iron Design

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  ~Leonardo DiVinci

The Blacksmiths

Robert Thomas

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Robert was accepted to the Artistic Blacksmithing program at Hereford College of Arts in Hereford, England and is certified through the National School of Blacksmithing, where he received a Journeyman’s Certification from the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths in London, England. He has studied metalwork with renowned artists in England, France, Sweden, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Israel, and throughout the United States.

Utilizing this specialized schooling and international training in forging metal, Robert has fused his passion for ironwork and eye for aesthetics to create beautiful compositions that can be seen all over the world. Immersing in the process start to finish, Robert enjoys collaborating with his clients to design and produce quality works of architecture, sculpture, furniture, lighting, and a diverse collection of custom pieces.

Robert Thomas Iron Design is based in South Carolina, although Robert is happy to continue working on projects all over the country, as well as collaborating with blacksmiths from around the world, refining his art and acquiring new design inspiration. “I like to design pieces that highlight the forging process. My passion is using traditional blacksmithing techniques to create contemporary works. The way I build – it's not the easiest way to do it – it's the pursuit of mastery. The way I incorporate traditional technique – it's not recreating the past – it's working directly with the material in a way that cannot be realized with a machine.”

International Recognition

  • 1st place - 2012 Iron Work Exhibition; Ivano-Frankivsk Blacksmith Festival, Ukraine
  • 1st place - 2012 Forging Competition; Ivano-Frankivsk Blacksmith Festival, Ukraine
  • 2nd place - 2012 Tri-County Show; Malvern, England
  • Featured demonstrating team member - 2012 World Blacksmith Forum; Helfštýn, Czech Republic
  • Sculptural works on permanent display in the Castle Helfštýn; Helfštýn, Czech Republic

Tyler Bickerstaff

Tyler brings a diverse skill set with him from over 15 years in the construction industry before getting the blacksmith bug and enrolling in the four-year architectural ironwork program at the American College of Building Arts (ACBA). Tyler started working with us as a summer intern and came back full time after graduating Valedictorian from ACBA. He and his family love fishing in the Folly River, Traveling, and Auburn Football.


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Matthew Garton

With over 10 years of experience in forged metal work and blacksmithing, Matthew leads our forging efforts at the RTID shop.  Matt graduated from Hereford College of Arts in Hereford, England with a B.A. Honors in Artist Blacksmithing.  His natural talent and dedication to the craft allowed Matt the opportunity to apprentice in one of the World's oldest functioning blacksmith shops in England, where he further refined his skillset and technique. His love for forging metal and desire to study with master smiths has taken Matt all over the world.

Matt specializes in traditional blacksmithing and has a vast knowledge of forged iron restoration, developed during his time working with the Top and Co. team, the world market leader in ironwork restoration. He has studied and forged in Canada, Chez Republic, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, and coast to coast throughout the United States.  Matt has lead multiple demonstrations in Europe and the U.S., and his forging talents can be seen on movie sets such as Beauty and the Beast, The Huntsman, and Star Wars.

Matt currently volunteers his time as a guest demonstrator at the American College of Building Arts in Charleston, S.C. 

Congratulations on Matt's gold medal finish at the 2017 World Forging Championships in Stia, Italy!

International Recognition

  • 1st place - Team Event; 2017 World Forging Championships; Stia, Italy
  • 2nd place - Individual Event; 2017 World Forging Championships; Stia, Italy

J. Powers Shepard

JP graduated from the College of Charleston where he majored in studio art specific to sculpture and minored in historic preservation.  He worked in different shops ranging from theater production to dude ranch maintenance to fabrication and forging. In recent years, He's dedicated his time to blacksmithing. He works full time as a blacksmith at RTID while also maintaining a studio on James Island, South Carolina, where he experiments with functional forgings as well as conceptual abstract sculptures. 


Annie Arthur

Born and raised just outside of Chattanooga, TN, Annie grew up with a love for art and a need to create. Even though she knew nothing about metalworking, Annie decided to attend the American College of Building Arts (ACBA), in Charleston, SC, to study forged architectural ironwork. After taking a few blacksmithing lessons, she enrolled at ACBA, where she graduated valedictorian of the 2017 class. Annie had the opportunity to intern at RTID while attending school and joined the team shortly after graduation.


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Clinton Donellan

More coming soon!


team awards

  • 1st place - 2018 Top Job Forged Railing; National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association
  • 1st place - 2018 Top Job Residential Stairs Complete; National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association
  • 3rd place - 2018 Top Job Forged Furniture; National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association
  • 2nd place - 2016 Top Job Forged Gates; National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association

© 2016 Robert Thomas Iron Design, All Rights Reserved

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