Blacksmithing Is Alive and Well in Kentucky

“Art of Craft” is a series that depicts the work of specialists elevated to the level of art.

Are blacksmiths dying out in America? Not so, according to Craig Cavia, a prominent practitioner of the technique based in Louisville, Kentucky. Rather, he said, “I am resurrected.”

The Industrial Revolution made many of the traditional blacksmith jobs, such as making hammers, nails, axes and shovels, obsolete. But blacksmiths like Caviar, 69, have found success in creating so-called “functional arts.” For example, Caviar is known in the region for creating handrails forged with leaves and birds, with rough edges and eerie designs reminiscent of the work of sculptors like Louise Bourgeois. increase.

He recently completed an expansive three-part archway with Tim Burton-esque details at a local crab park game reserve. Caviar said he took “the standards that the owners had” and made it his own by adding horses, trees and giraffes to the reserve’s name sign.

Mr. Cavia reached national audiences on the HGTV show “Modern Masters” and then went on to perform globally as a member of the U.S. Pavilion at the World’s Fair in Japan. But his work is most prominent in Louisville.

And he says the technology is only growing in the region. “When I came to Louisville, nobody was doing it,” he said. “Now I have a few other people around me doing the same thing. It’s a fine craft.”

Caviar also works with Guns to Gardens, a group that recycles voluntarily surrendered guns into gardening tools. His role is simple. “I take the barrel and drill a hole in the center. And flatten one end.”

Kavia said she plans to keep working as long as her body can handle it. He is usually in the store from 9am to 6 or 7pm. “I’m afraid if I stop, I’ll sit and watch too much TV,” he said. “It helps me stay in shape.”

“I love working with tools and the feel of metal,” he said. “When you’re hammering hot metal, the metal has a different feel and a different heat. You can really judge what you can do through the hammer.”

Below, before and after deformation of the gun barrel, the right side is the gardening tool.

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