Blacksmith at Fort Vancouver, WashingtonForgeThe devil cornered

Going hammer and tongs inside George Rousis' blacksmithing studio

Outside a weathered house on Woodland Avenue, the clang of metal striking metal reverberates up and down your spine as you approach the front door. You wonder if the man inside will hear you knock. You look at the intricately sculpted iron handle, and the sounds make sense.

Beyond the door is the studio of George Rousis, metalsmith. The space is messy, a little ramshackle, but it is also a place where fine things are made. Some of his bronze, iron and copper statues are the size of a wedding ring. Others are as large as the entryway gates he fashioned for the Children's Garden at the Kansas City Community Garden.

In the bowels of his studio, Rousis could pass for a Vulcan working his forge: sturdy from years of swinging hammers, his beard full enough to be a fire hazard. He says wearing a kilt has cured his back pain, but he also needs to be able to move easily. He's forever dropping things, dashing from one spot in the studio to the next, his trade a business timed in swiftly passing seconds.

The kind of job that hammered out a country

  1. Photo by: David Woodfill/The Republic. Old bomb detonator (circa mid-1970s): Police detonated bombs using ice tongs . Since there was no jail, a blacksmith manufactured a pair of shackles bolted to a rock. Those arrested were shackled to the rock by
  2. It seems that in the Old West, many blacksmiths were also farriers. That's not so much the case today. So I received a demonstration on fashioning tools and decorative iron pieces. Soon other people showed up, drawn to the pounding on the anvils and
  3. On this cool-for-mid-August day at Pricketts Fort State Park, coals in this blacksmith shop are burning hot and bright, fanned by bursts of air from a gi-normous bellows suspended from the ceiling. Most days this is where you would encounter a park

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