In a clapboard workshop
in Madison, Wisconsin,
a blacksmith’s anvil rests
atop a massive tree stump.
Steel straps secure the anvil feet to the
Broad leather loops holding ‘smithy hammers,
encircle the stump.
The hammers hang patiently;
the smooth wooden handles poised
like dancers in a chorus line
listening for their cue,
as they wait for
of the Blacksmith
It’s called a dance,” says Gary Schluter, owner/founder of Excaliber Artistic Ironworks, “because you are working with 2 to 4 pieces of steel at a time, constantly moving from the forge to the anvil, every few minutes you have to heat and strike and then heat again. You dance all day.”
The results are beautiful hooks with intricate details, flares and swirls. And charming names like Snake Hooks and Heart Hooks. Gary handforges small household ironwork. “It is like jewelry for the house. I make a beautiful hook to hang your hat, cabinet handles, candle holders, chandeliers, pot racks.”
Tools for grilling are very popular. They are functional and they last. Steak flippers and skewers, ladles and tongs are a few of the tools Gary makes for the grill cook.
At Penn’s Colony, Gary also sells hardware like the toilet paper hangers seen in the photo to the right. And the 18th c. Courting Candle can still be be found among the hooks, tools and racks.
Blacksmithing has revived, according to the Washington Post which saw the trend for custom metalwork in homes in 2016.
Yet for many of us who expect strength and longevity from a tool, Blacksmithing never left.
You just have to know where to find it.
Gary Schluter and Excaliber Artistic Ironworks can be found at the Penn’s Colony Festival, booth #22.-23