For thousands of years, the village blacksmith has been revered as a god. Hephaestus, the saintly smithy of Greek mythology, forged weapons that defined power and tools that defied limits. In Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations," when protagonist Pip goes looking for honest work, he apprentices as a blacksmith, until the sparkle of nobility tempts him away. Japan's Masamune was a metal-man beyond compare. His swords made him a 13th century rock star while his timeless quality and innovation still make him a legend across the globe.
Whether he was smelting, melting, hammering, or welding, the village blacksmith was a common presence in any community. Everyday except Sunday was a laboring day for the man all the children watched, all the women wanted, and all the men respected.
Today as globalization, China, and the Internet alter the landscape of our local lives, it's soothing to hear the ring of the blacksmith's hammer banging tempo to the rhythm of man.
This Labor Day I went looking for the weary worker and found an American champion. In East Hampton, NY, village blacksmith James DeMartis reigns metallically supreme. From rods to railings, stairways to sculpture, James creates time's most enduring utilitarian objects as well as America's most artistic.
James' works inspire the imagination begging to be touched as they rust and react to time and the temporary nature of permanence.
Some of DeMartis' work --- as well as more information about James -- can be found here.
Visiting James is taking a trip back in time to a nearly lost craft. He's an man who shows his mettle, proving what the immortal American craftsman can still do.