“The small man kept asking to see my hands. Every time a new person walked by his work place, he made me show them my hands. They had never seen a white man with calluses on his hands before.”
This is just one of the tales blacksmith Michael McCarthy recounts about his trips through West Africa where he has studied with numerous blacksmiths working in the most traditional methods.
Michael is one of the few working blacksmiths remaining in America, and one of only a handful who understand the process from beginning to end. Michael travels to West Virginia several times a year to mine his own ore from which he creates incredible works of art. His work can be found in museums and private collections and some of his pieces have garnered up to $14,000.
I could spend hours (and have!) in Michael’s shop, listening to him talk about the craft and staring in amazement at the things he creates. Even the glowing red coals have the ability to mesmerize.
Michael likes to say that you can’t tell the story of America without telling a story about iron, noting that iron played a roll in the earliest incarnations of the American Dream. John Deere (who we know well at Beekman Farm) started out as a blacksmith making blades for plows. And the iron rails that opened up the American West were the catalysts for many of the great American fortunes (when fortunes were made from hard work instead of hedge funds).
We are so excited to have Michael as part of the B. 1802 Rural Artist Collective and hope you will enjoy his first two creations for the Beekman 1802 Mercantile.
We are proud to support Michael’s dreams of preserving the art and history of blacksmithing.
We’ll be telling you more about other master craftsmen we’ve met since putting down roots at Beekman 1802. In the meantime, we’d love for you to give a shout out in the comment section below to any national treasures inhabiting your own community.