Ron Howard, Blacksmith
I work with a coal fired forge, hammer and anvil and mostly antique equipment to make products that are useful in the home. I do have modern equipment that I use where appropriate, but I believe that blacksmithing should be the process of using forge and anvil to make something useful from whatever scrap or new material is available.
Seeing all kinds of hinges, handles and repairs made from old horseshoes and wagon tires on my great grandparent’s farm is part of what drew me to blacksmithing. I made my first forge in 1976; being a poor college student I couldn’t afford expensive equipment, so I modelled it after my great, great uncle’s forge. I spent time helping him when I was 15 and it made an impression. When I set up my forge, he gave me the hammer he started with in 1918, along with a couple pair of tongs. I had to promise that I wouldn’t sell them as antiques. I still have them; and they do get used on occasion.
Today, I make a line of leaf items to reflect the natural world as well as a more utilitarian style that reflects the “make do” philosophy of the mountains and people where we live.