MAKING brands is in Warren Skewes blood – he’s still got the brand his great-grandfather made in the late 1800s.
The Moonbi metal worker just created his 1500th brand, and took a moment to reflect on his lifetime of beating iron.
On average, since 1978, he’s made at least one brand a week for 40 years.
“It’s always been a major part of our business,” he said.
And it’s not just a businesses, it’s a passion and an artistic outlet.
“For my 1000th brand, I promised myself I’d make my own signature,” Mr Skewes said, with a grin.
“It took me about five days to make that. The average brand takes about four or five hours, but the more intricate they are, the longer it takes.”
His 1500th milestone brand was a freeze brand.
“If you’ve seen a race horse with a white brand on their shoulder, that’s a freeze brand," he said.
“You put the brand, which is made out of pure copper, in dry ice or liquid nitrogen, which is super cold. When they put it on, it kills the colour particle of the hair and it grows back white.”
Many of the brands have a quirky story attached to them – the customers for his 500th freeze brand, and his most recent 1500 milestone were bridesmaids to each other.
And his brands are all over the world, with customers in South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, the United States and New Caledonia.
“They’re not just used on stock,” he said.
“I’ve made them for TV ads, furniture makers, hotels, restaurants, heirlooms and country music gigs.”
It’s not just the brands that are impressive – even the handles Mr Skewes makes are works of art.
He can craft intricately plaited metal handles, which look so rope-like, it bends the mind.
“You know how you do a tie a knot in a piece of rope? Well that’s done in steel,” he said.
“It took me five years to work out how to do it. Nothing’s rocket science if you work out how to do it.”
While it’s a skill that’s second nature to Mr Skewes, it leaves other people scratching their heads in wonder.
“When people ask me how I do it, I tell them you heat the metal up, cross your arms and pull,” he said, laughing.
He’s even crafted a brand-themed sculpture at the request of Lake Macquarie Art Gallery, that went on to tour galleries around NSW and Queensland.
“Some of these brands you wouldn’t put on an animal because they’re too intricate,” he said.