This smith’s hand-forged tools and hardware combine art and function.
By Megan Fitzpatrick
Today, we aim for too much perfection; period work wasn’t like that,” says blacksmith/whitesmith Peter Ross. Handwork, he says, is a culmination of learning to do things quickly with few tools and little fussing, whether that’s working with iron or working with wood. With a sufficient level of skill, “you end up with pieces that have a spontaneity…but in a fairly controlled way because of the person doing it.” That ephemeral quality of controlled irregularity is what draws Peter to historical work.
Peter has been interested in period tools, hardware and techniques since his introduction to blacksmithing during high school, at what is now called the Long Island Museums at Stony Brook, in Stony Brook, N.Y. He then volunteered and was later employed at Old Bethpage Village Restoration, an 1860s living history museum on Long Island. After two years at the Rhode Island School of Design, Peter left college to work with Dick Everett, a smith who specialized in historic reproductions of house hardware, in East Haddam, Conn., before opening his own smithy on Deer Isle, Maine, in 1976. Three years later, he became a journeyman blacksmith at Colonial Williamsburg as the living history museum was transitioning the smithy from creating souvenir pieces to making authentic reproductions of historical metal artifacts. Peter soon became the shop’s master, and until 2006 worked at Colonial Williamsburg where he investigated historical methods of work and produced metal work for the museum.
Video: Watch as Peter Ross makes a pair of forged dividers.
Blog: Read more about the Roubo holdfast Ross made for Christopher Schwarz.
Web site: Discover the Tools and Trades History Society, publisher of “The Tool Chest of Benjamin Seaton.”
To Buy: “The Tool Chest of Benjamin Seaton, 2nd Edition” Read more