A Georgia Blacksmith Forges a Future in Fire and Film


Trenton Tye grew up in Southwest Georgia focused on becoming a blacksmith.


As a child, he became fascinated with the trade while on a field trip to a Civil War site. Trenton now has his own business, Purgatory Ironworks, in the town of Morgan.


He never thought his love for the ancient craft – which combines function, art and history in an alluring alloy – would lead him to show business.


But three years ago, he worked on the TV series “Underground Railroad” for Academy Award-winning director Barry Jenkins. Film and TV work has flowed ever since, with 10 major productions and a series of smaller ones making up 75% of Purgatory’s business, he says.


He makes items like hinges, bronze work, leather, wood, satchels and set decorations to help filmmakers enrich the historical accuracy of their projects.


And – just to make sure he stands out among filmmakers and crewmembers – he does whatever he can to ingratiate himself on set. On “Railroad,” that meant bringing plenty local beef jerky to keep people talking about him personally while also admiring his work.


Current projects include a time travel movie and another about Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth.


He and his full-time employee also make knives. Trenton has worked with Habitat for Humanity and educated crowds at events across the country.


“Things have been good on all fronts,” Trenton says.


In 2016, he appeared on History Channel’s “Forged in Fire” series and later became a host of the Discovery Channel’s “Master of Arms.”


Trenton likes working behind the scenes on fictional productions. He enjoyed his time on camera in reality TV. And he’s grateful for the opportunities he keeps having in the industry.


The biggest challenge is connecting his business and other local artisans of Southwestern Georgia with filmmakers based in California and Atlanta.


“We have incredibly talented people, experts and craftsmen, that are available to do this very specialized, very niche work that can make a difference between a good movie and a great movie,” he says.


“We are starting to do work that the world sees. That’s incredible.”

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