James Hovanec will demonstrate blacksmithing at Berea Arts Fest (photos)

Annual Berea Arts Fest. "When you heat it, you can move it around. It makes very unique pieces. A lot of the pieces have a sound; they ring."

In adulthood, he grew more interested in metalwork by taking his family to Hale Farm and Village and watching the blacksmith there.

At Hovanec's day job, he heats and makes a different substance: chocolate. The former chef works at the Malley's factory in Brook Park.

In his spare time, he toils in a shop behind the house, running what he calls The Grindstone Forge in honor of Berea's historic fame for quarrying. He forges jewelry, pendants, candle holders, bowls, sculptures and nature art, from mushrooms to planets.

His work sells for anything from $4.50 to $100 or more. It runs up to 70 pounds or more. Like many vendors at the Arts Fest, he takes custom orders.

Hovanec works mostly with found steel, copper and aluminum. At home, he mainly uses a coal-heated forge. Smithing throughout the Arts Fest, he'll use a propane forge instead to avoid getting soot on other people or on their art.

Moorhead man takes up blacksmithing, discovers family connection

  1. His forge, for example, is propane-fueled with valves that control the amount and location of the flame more precisely than an old fashioned wood-charcoal burning forge. It is also cleaner burning, reducing the chance of the steel becoming contaminated.
  2. Modern technology also means Mehnert-Meland can use a cheaper and safer small propane-powered forge in his garage in place of burning charcoal or coal. But it remains a largely old-fashioned craft, and he said it still requires the same ingredients of 
  3. This year Dunn brought his smallest forge, heated by propane. Dunn said he's been forging since 1998, and although at Vintage Faire he harkens back to the craft's early days, his "bread-and-butter" are edge weapons such as knives, swords and axes meant 

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