July-August 2011 | THE REAL IRON-MAN

THE REAL IRON-MAN
THE REAL IRON-MANTHE REAL IRON-MANTHE REAL IRON-MANTHE REAL IRON-MANTHE REAL IRON-MANTHE REAL IRON-MANTHE REAL IRON-MANBlacksmith Nick VincentTHE REAL IRON-MANTHE REAL IRON-MANTHE REAL IRON-MAN

ARTISTICALLY SPEAKING

THE REAL IRON-MAN

Wielding his trusty hammer with the dexterity of a virtuoso, blacksmith Nick Vincent can work heavy metal like the greatest guitar hero

Written By: Nick Brandi | Photographer: Grant L. Gursky

He couldn’t be less like Tony Stark if he were a Filipino pearl diver. Yet, despite the lack of meta-state-of-the-art high-tech and an unlimited budget, make no mistake: Nick Vincent, armed with a simple hammer in one hand and a piece of raw metal in the other, is the real “iron man.”

Under the banner of Nathan’s Forge, Ltd., Vincent is, as his business card attests, an authentic American blacksmith. And these days, that’s saying something.

“I’d imagine there are something like 10 to 20 full-time working blacksmiths in the Mid-Atlantic region,” offered Vincent, who was the founder and first president of the Blacksmith’s Guild of Central Maryland and a past-president of the Mid-Atlantic Smith’s Association. “So this is not a hobby you take up because you want to meet a whole lot of new people.”

It is, however, a hobby Vincent took up some 28 years ago, when he got itchy about making some improvements to the house he’d been living in.

“I’d had this old house; I just wanted to make some hardware for it,” Vincent said. “It just kinda went from there.”

He made his first iron hook at the Delaware Agricultural Museum all those years ago, and while he laughs it off as being “God-awful ugly,” he does, after all, still have it.

But no matter how self-effacing the soft-spoken blacksmith with the 273 lb. anvil may be, even he knows that “ugly” isn’t a word anyone else would apply to his work. In fact, Vincent has done jobs for such big-name clients as Pottery Barn, Lands End, Plow & Hearth and, more locally, the Country House in Salisbury. In Delaware, he was hired by the state to do work for the Dickerson Plantation bicentennial celebration and, in 2008, by Dover Downs to crank out over 7,000 elements of scrolled bronze for the opulent gazebo entrance-way of their casino. He’s even been hired by the capital of rustic Americana, Colonial Williamsburg.

Vincent finds, however, that while traditional smith work has been a mainstay of his 20-plus years as a pro, he is still growing artistically, even at this point in his career.

“I’ve kind of evolved, if you will, into doing stuff that’s more modern-themed,” said Vincent, who has a house with his wife on the Shore in addition to his workshop-residence in Westminster, Md. “I still do tons of traditional work; I suspect I always will. But nowadays I’ve been gravitating toward sea themes like crabs, whales, seashells and such.”

Vincent also reports that his client base tends to be very diverse, encompassing everything from huge Texas contractors restoring government houses in the Virgin Islands, to various-sized retailers and catalog companies discovering him at arts-and-crafts shows and exhibitions, to private individuals who have learned about Vincent by word of mouth or reputation.

“I really like having different types of clients,” Vincent shared. “It keeps things interesting; I never know what’s coming next. And in its own way, each new job, regardless of its size or scope, is a new and unique challenge — even if I’ve done it a thousand times before.”
   

Chris Olert
Posted On: 7/13/11 4:09 pm
Nick is a Genius; a craftsman in the tradition of fellow geniuses: Edison & Ford & Jobs & Gates