The art of blacksmithing is alive and well - WDRB 41 Louisville News

The art of blacksmithing is alive and well


The making of art is usually cool and quiet, except when it's hot and noisy.

That's the case for one Louisville artist -- who has landed in Bernson's Corner for not just creating texture and design -- but forging new artists in the process.

"Under a spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands," wrote the poet Longfellow. There may not be many chestnut trees left, but the ancient art of blacksmithing is alive and well -- in the person of Craig Kaviar.

Kaviar says, "these skills in America have almost been lost -- and through the generosity of a few people who went around teaching it, I learned quite a bit -- so I feel obligated to pass on the knowledge that I've learned, and the students are so enthusiastic about it that it makes it a real pleasure for me."

A couple of times a year, Kaviar teaches the most unusual class in Louisville -- artistic blacksmithing -- at his Frankfort Avenue workshop. 

The students include a 19-year-old aspiring artist -- the president of a research firm -- an electrician -- and a laid-off corporate vice-president.

Sean Heitkemper explains what it means to take the class,  "I mean, you can see what it takes him a few minutes to demonstrate, it takes us an entire four-hour class to execute -- so it's such an effort in efficiency of motion he's mastered over 30, 40 years of doing this, that I'm just barely scratching the surface.  I'm having a lot of fun!"

Back before motor cars, of course, most blacksmith work involved making horseshoes.  That's not the case any more, although that's not to say that horses aren't involved.

Today the blacksmithing students are trying to emulate Kaviar's skill in creating a decorative fireplace poker with a ram's head on the handle.  And that's not all they learn:

Kaviar says there is a lot of history in his lesson, "a lot of the expressions in common-day use are traditional blacksmithing expressions -- 'strike while the iron is hot' is one of them."

Student Madeline Dailey enjoyed the workshop, "it's pretty intense, I don't know -- gives you kind of a rush, I guess."

Trey Graninger was also inspired to learn backsmithing,  "I guess I'm a little bit of a pyromaniac, and so red-hot steel?  What's better than burning steel?"

This massive air hammer was originally built to be carried on a battleship during World War Two.  By reusing this machinery of war for the making of artwork, Kaviar says -- he is, in a small way, helping to turn swords into plowshares.

The class, by the way, costs $400 for the five week session.

From Frankfort Avenue -- Barry Bernson, Fox41 News.

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