Hudson People -THE IRONMAN Peter Arguelles
By Sally Deering
Â Artisan Peter Arguelles owns All Ironworks on Coles Street in Jersey City where metals are melded, molded and sculpted into architectural installations like staircases, walls and ramps; and furniture like desks, chairs and mirrors. In his spare time, Arguelles creates whimsical sculptures like a pair of oversized insects made from a deconstructed hole-digger and discarded wrenches; and his favorite piece, a huge pair of angel wings that has taken him 20 years to create, one metal feather at a time.
Â â€œI love to create art that is useful art,â€ Arguelles says. â€œI restore pieces because thatâ€™s the difference between a regular welder and someone who is a craftsman at heart.â€
Â Arguelles works out of a garage right next to the 4th Street Embankment in Jersey City. You canâ€™t miss the building; its bright green with a huge metal robot greeting you at the garage door. On one side of the garage is Arguellesâ€™ office where he sits at a desk he created from recycled wood and metal. The rest of the garage is the shop where Arguelles and his staff â€“ mostly freelancers â€“ and his assistant of 18 years Eddie Borrero fulfill All Ironworks clientsâ€™ restoration requests.
Â One client asked Arguelles to create a unique railing for his staircase, but instead of using plain vertical bars, Arguelles cut â€“ by hand — the New York City Skyline from a metal plate. The result is a one-of-a-kind railing and art melded in one.Â Â
Peter Arguelles talking about his Angel Wings
For a home in Montclair, Arguelles recreated gates a homeowner saw in Venice, Italy.Â In Hoboken, Arguelles spruced up a homeownerâ€™s Brownstone entrance with large iron posts created by hand.
â€œWe specialize in restoration and do a lot of antiques,â€ Arguelles says. â€œIn Hoboken, we do 80- to-90 percent antiques â€“ fences, posts. We do a lot of custom orders. People give us a budget to work with and we do presents for weddings, Christmas, housewarmings.â€
For the Hoboken Historical Museum, Arguelles restored the interior beams; and for the Whitney Museum in New York City, the crew made one huge room out of steel.
â€œWe cut the walls which were waterproof and fireproof walls, and the floor and ceiling and made one huge room out of steel,â€ Arguelles says. â€œThe way we put it together, itâ€™s like a puzzle. You can take it apart and move it to another country.â€
â€œItâ€™s like Legos,â€ Borrero says.
Arguelles and his wife Rachel opened All Ironworks 28 years ago on Madison Street in Hoboken and moved the business to its Jersey City location five years ago. They started the business creating fireplaces and fences and it grew from there. So did Arguelles who learned his trade mainly on the job.
â€œI learned how to melt the steel, weld the steel, put together the pieces,â€ Arguelles says. â€œWhen I do installations, I learn a lot in the field. Since I studied to be an architect in college, it has helped me on the job. Sometimes an architect will make a mistake and it makes me feel good when I catch the mistake and let them know. I also took classes in mechanical engineering and structural engineering.â€
Arguellesâ€™ shop is filled with big and small metal objects that are just about finished. Thereâ€™s a window-box for flowers Arguelles is making for a client that are almost finished and then there are those angel wings which Arguelles has been working on for 20 years. Heâ€™s thinking of putting them outside with a sign that reads, â€œBe and Angelâ€ and invites people to have their pictures taken â€˜adornedâ€™ in the wings that are actually made from scrap metal
â€œIâ€™m like a caveman,â€ Arguelles says. â€œWhatever I need, I make. When I see scrap metal on the street or go to the scrap yard, Iâ€™m like a kid with candy.â€
Ornamental Restoration & Metal Sculpture
Peter Arguelles, Owner
95 Coles Street