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Chuck Irwin

Birth place or City of origin: Los Olivios
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Start/Birth date: 1924
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"Chuck Irwin doesn't really put in hours of intricate work on bits and spurs for the human buyers who covet his work. He does it for the horses." Chuck was born in Walnut Creek, California, and has spent most of his life in the Santa Ynez Valley. He began his career with a pair of spurs made out of necessity - he couldn't afford to buy them. Those spurs have led to a life of creative work; he has been making spurs and bits and braiding rawhide for more than 60 years.

Now a resident of Los Olvios, California, Chuck lived in Walnut Creek, California until age 14 when he moved to Culver City where he finished high school and worked for Jute Smith caring for his rodeo string. He shod and trained horses until ee was drafted for WWII. After the war, Chuck resumed riding ad roping both for Jute Smith and MGM studios. He married Joan Poet in 1949, and they moved to Santa Ynez where they raised a son and daughter.

Chuck made his first bit and spurs in a silver working class in high school refining his skills with Forrest Armstrong in the early 1950s - before he died and left all his tools and patterns to Chuck.

During the fifties and sixties Chuck made bits and spurs in the evenings and on rainy days before retiring from farming to focus on raising cattle and making bits and spurs. in the late 1960s, Irwin figured out for himself the process of flowing silver,a technique used by very few makers. He heats the steel until red hot, then outs a pure silver wire on it until it melts and flows into the recessed area. When cooled, the bit or spur is ready for engraving.

 

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