ARTHURDALE — Roger Greaser is a third generation blacksmith. A heritage handed down from his grandfather to his father and to him. He has been a blacksmith for 50 years and is a member of the Appalachian Blacksmithing Organization (ABO). Greaser said the ABO has about 400 members and is blanketed under the Artist Blacksmiths of North America (ABNA).
He said not all blacksmiths do the same type of work. Greaser said he is a utilitarian blacksmith. “I make tools and hardware,” he said. “I make hatchets, hammers, knives, and I do architectural work that includes, gates, fencing, and stair and balcony railing,” Greaser said. An artistic blacksmith might create intricate metal pieces, such as sculptures and swords.
He said blacksmiths are sometimes confused with farriers. A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care. They trim and balance the horses’ hooves and shoe them. “Farriers work with horses,” he said. “A farrier might have a blacksmith make horseshoes, but it’s two different vocations.”
Greaser said his last project took a lot of time to complete. “My last project was a complete house. I did the metal work inside and out of a new home located in Deep Creek,” he said. “When the construction was finished, the owner told me to put the icing on it. I did the fencing, the arbors, the gates and the fireplace grates. It was a six -year project.”
Greaser said blacksmithing is a dying art. He said by teaching classes, he is trying to keep the craft alive. “I teach basic blacksmithing, a beginners class,” he said. “Basically I start with the belief the students know nothing about blacksmithing. I teach hand and eye coordination, how to start the fire, how to get the metal right and how to work with metal.”
He said the TV series “Forged in Fire,” a competition series on the HISTORY channel, sparked an interest in blacksmithing. Greaser said another group showing an interest in blacksmithing is gamers. “What makes this trade nice is your imagination. Metal is a lot like clay. You heat it, and you can mold it,” he said. Greaser said he doesn’t have a favorite item he likes to make. “I don’t like to do repetition. No two things ever come out exactly the same. I like to make things beautiful.”
Greaser was at Arthurdale Heritage on Saturday, passing on his skills to his students. He said he limits his classes to three students due to available space. Greaser brings his own tools as well as an anvil for his students to do their work on. His students came to the class for a variety of reasons.
“It sounded like fun,” Francis Mulkeen said. “I do welding and repair in my shop. This (blacksmithing) works right in.”
Jason Oliphant said he signed up for the class because he wanted to learn an old craft.
“I’m trying to learn new techniques,” Robert White said. “It’s a hobby. And something to do. I like to make things.”
For more information call Roger Greaser, at 304-329-0974 or 304-329-2747, or Arthurdale Heritage, at 304-864-3959.