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Posted - 07/01/2012 03:00pm
Steel Geisha Designs Couple combines talent to create a metalworking shop all their own

By James Golway

She went to school dreaming of becoming a fashion designer. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. She gave up pins and scissors for an anvil and forge, while he became a lighting designer and part-time tattoo artist with an affinity for Asian art. Both grew up in Sonoma and went to the same high school but never met until the day the blacksmith with the raven hair and porcelain skin came asking for help from the lighting designer with a studious manner and a colorful tapestry of tattoos rippling down his muscular arms.

“I needed advice for this intricate lighting holder I was creating,” said Anastatia Waterfield. “Steve was working for a lighting design outfit. That’s how we met. He was most helpful.”

Steve Chiurco reckons meeting Anastatia was a combination of good fortune and destiny.

“Meeting her was good karma,” he said. “We both shared something in common. We both loved working with metal but she knew more about metallurgy, and I had a mechanical design background. So we kind of bonded right from the start.”

The two are now married, raising a son while working side by side at Steel Geisha Designs, which opened in September. The couple’s fusion of talents has made their metal-working shop off Eighth Street East one of Sonoma Valley’s most popular places for commissioning decorative custom works or ordering fabricated metal designs and on-the-spot welding jobs.

bbq.jpgOutfitted with a forge, anvil, design table, metallurgy tools and equipment, the couple can take on the most demanding of assignments. They have designed, produced and installed massive ornamental railing for Spanish balconies and created intricate metal mounts and stands for art pieces.

“Many clients are not certain what they exactly need,” said Chiurco. “But I bring out the sketch pad and soon we start working together to create a design of the metalwork they envision.”

“What is so fulfilling” Waterfield added, “is getting thanks from our customers. That’s how we’ve built the business, word-of-mouth from satisfied customers.”

Combining their talents and expertise, the couple now shares most of the daily design and metalworking tasks. However, Waterfield still concentrates on the ancient craft of blacksmithing. She wields the hammer, works the forge, heating metals to white-hot temperatures, and then pounds the iron or steel into the required shape.

“My dad trained me as a blacksmith. Back then, some thought it was odd to be working with a lady blacksmith, but they got used to it. Although some customers walked out – they couldn’t accept a woman as a blacksmith,” Waterfield said. “What’s funny is that my skill in fashion design made me a better blacksmith.”

Steel Geisha Designs is a busy shop. When the couple is not teaming up on a metalwork project or helping out on the occasional trailer-hitch repair, they are often designing their own art, which has been exhibited at local shows. According to Chiurco, the two have little problem balancing the needs of running a business and building a family. “Anastatia and I made a pledge that work stops at the end of the day. Then it’s time to spend time with our son.”