Participating in House of the West.
Born in Silver City, New Mexico, Japheth began his career as a blacksmith at 15 when his interest in history and archeology led him to try forging replicas of antique iron tools he had excavated. Following the example of his artist parents, Cecil and Marilyn Howard, he soon began to design and make his own work in this new medium.
As an apprentice, he was able to turn his full attention to the vocation that has absorbed him for the next 18 years. During this time, Japheth has never neglected an opportunity to add to his metal working skills. Without a formal course of instruction, he followed the traditional route of the journeyman, working with established smiths in various parts of the United States. This included a two-year intern position at the National Ornamental Metal Museum
in Memphis, Tennessee.
While teaching classes, installing exhibits, and executing restoration and commissioned projects in the museum’s demonstration workshop, Japheth came in to contact with metalworkers worldwide. Such exposure gave him the opportunity to spend a year in the workshop of Richard Quinnell Ltd. in Surrey, England. Here was an unparalleled opportunity to work with very fine craftsmen entrusted with the restoration of important historic pieces and the building of the very best contemporary work. Upon his return to the United States, Japheth has devoted his full energy to his own work. In the process, he has gained a reputation for high quality work and fine craftsmanship.
In addition to designing and making architectural metalwork, he and his wife, metalsmith Alice A. James have been invited to teach several blacksmithing classes each year. These classes at various craft schools through out the U.S. reflect a growing public interest in ironwork, as well as the emergence of a new generation of artist blacksmiths. Teaching others is particularly rewarding to Japheth as a way of ensuring that this once dying craft continues to expand and develop.