BOALSBURG — Would you enjoy standing out in the sun on a hot Pennsylvania July day, spending hours and hours by a forge hammering red hot iron? No? Fortunately, Tim Bradford enjoys just that — and puts his blacksmithing skills on display at the People’s Choice Festival, taking place through Sunday at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg.
Those skills are pretty rare in today’s world, but Bradford, who lives in Pleasant Gap, followed in the steps of his father-in-law and keeps the ancient skills alive. And he likes to demonstrate his art, “so that people can see how the old-time blacksmiths did their work.”
He says it gives people the opportunity to ask questions. “And they have the chance to special order something and watch while it’s being made.”
And what kind of products does Bradford create?
“My low-end products include J-hooks, leaf hooks, S-hooks, bottle openers and key rings. The key rings vary, but one style is a piece of metal tied in a knot.” said Bradford.
But there’s a lot more coming from Bradford’s forge.
“I make household items for inside the home such as candle holders, chandeliers, fireplace sets, coat racks, basket hangers, and table-top sculptures,” some of which perched on rocks.
Bradford’s inventory also includes items for outside the home. “Boot scrapers, plant hangers, dinner bells, flag holders and poles, and hose holders,” he said. Of course, they are all made by hand. With fire. And red-hot metal.
Blacksmithing is, today, almost a lost art. But it’s not entirely lost. There are enough blacksmiths in Pennsylvania that they have an organization: the Pennsylvania Artist-Blacksmiths’ Association, which boasts a membership of 175. The organization has a tool that old-time blacksmiths did not have: A website. For those who may be interested in exploring blacksmithing, they can visit pabasite.org.
And of course you can see Tim Bradford at this year’s People’s Choice Festival. He’s in Booth 1.