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Local Creative Highlight - Roy Adams, Blacksmith

Alpena, MI - July 2023

This month, we're featuring Roy Adams - a local blacksmith with a knack for education and a deep passion for his craft.


Roy has built a large Youtube following (586,000 subscribers and counting!) as well as an expansive catalog of products during his time working in the blacksmithing space.


Check out below to see more of Roy's work, hear his story, and find out more about blacksmithing!


 

When I was a child, I used to enjoy watching blacksmithing at Carriage Hill Metropark. I would stand for hours mesmerized by the blacksmith shaping the steel with only an anvil and hammer. As a young adult, I was able to share my interest in blacksmithing with my wife when we went to visit that same Metropark one weekend. Fortunately for me, she ran across a coal forge at a garage sale and that began my collection of blacksmithing tools.

One of my first mentors was my friend, Raymond Seim. Although in his 80's, he wasn't afraid to pick up the hammer and show me a few things. A few years later, I began taking classes from master smiths such as Wayne Apgar, Thomas Latane, Peter Ross, and Clay Spenser. Even though I have been in the craft for 15 years, I still strive to always be learning. I never know when I will learn a handy tip or technique from another blacksmith who has had different experiences than myself.

My main supporter in all of this has been my wife and my three kids. Additional people that have been supportive have been my parents and extended family. Other blacksmiths have been friendly and willing to share their knowledge.

I moved to Harrisville, Michigan in 2019 from Dayton, Ohio. I have met several local blacksmiths and joined as member of Michigan Artist Blacksmith Association (MABA). A local man from Mikado has been apprenticing with me for over a year.

Blacksmithing to me is a way to transform a plain bar of steel and make it something beautiful or useful. My passion is french baroque ironwork... I love to make ironwork with scrolls and acanthus leaves.

Since I have many different facets to my business, I don't always get to forge what I want when I would like to. I have to have patience with myself and remember that even small steps forward are still movements forward. Sometimes I will do a forging exercise just to warm up or for fun, no pressure.

I stay motivated to keep creating art by studying the artwork of blacksmith's such as Cyril Colnik, who has a display in his memory at the Villa Terrace Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I enjoy learning about the period and watching documentaries around historical ironwork.

I have found ways of working around the limited resources in this area of northeast Michigan. There are some stores in Alpena that carry some of the items I regularly need. I also tend to order a lot of supplies online, and I am also willing to travel. I go to Grand Rapids monthly to get steel.

There are many things I enjoy about living in north east Michigan. I enjoy hiking and camping. My family and I have visited our local lighthouse Sturgeon Point Lighthouse dozens of times. I've also taken an interest in watching the aurora borealis.

My artwork primarily sells online, so the fact that this is a more rural area of Michigan hasn't been a hold back for me. There seems to be plenty of avenues to display artwork in Harrisville, such as the Craft Maker's Cabin, The Dragonfly Art Gallery, and the Hollyhock Emporium. Additional locations in Alpena include Art in the Loft, Thunder Bay Art Gallery, and the numerous gift shops around town.

Blacksmithing may seem daunting at the onset... Working with hot fire, heavy steel bars, and the like. But anyone can do it! I regularly teach people that are in their 60's and up and just getting started. Blacksmithing is a slow craft and it takes a lot of time to build skills. It is important to start with the fundamentals no matter what niche of blacksmithing you want to get into.

The fundamentals are the basic processes of forging... Bending, upsetting (thickening the material), drawing out (thinning the material), drifting, splitting, punching, and forge welding. With these essential skills, you can forge anything! If you are interested in learning blacksmithing, I invite you to check out my YouTube channel, Christ Centered Ironworks.










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