The Blacksmithing Artist
Blacksmithing, an art as old as the evolution of humanity, is once again seeing an upsurge in popularity, as craft schools, small workshops, and YouTube videos introduce a new generation to the joy of pounding metal. The smiths who came of age in the back-to-the-land resurgence of the ’70s are the elders now, passing down their skills, books, and tools.
Back in those days, Nol Putnam (his full name is Oliver de Montalant Putnam) was teaching history at a private school in Massachusetts when he came across the book “The Art of Blacksmithing”, by Alex W. Bealer. Thus began a lifelong love affair that would have him in a series of seven smithies over the years, first pounding out fireplace tools that he hawked at craft shows, and eventually creating bespoke iron gates for clients such as the Rockefellers and the Washington National Cathedral. At 87, he still works nearly daily, turning iron into art.