Episode #48 Dan Nauman “Blacksmith Archaeology”

Dan Nauman has been forging since 1979 and has been forging professionally since 1993.  A turning point in his blacksmithing career was when he spent eight days learning from Francis Whitaker in Carbondale, CO, and three years later took Whitaker’s Master Class.  With that knowledge, he started his forging business in Kewaskum, Wisconsin.  At one point, he owned and operated three blacksmiths shops and up to 14 employees.  Dan has demonstrated/taught at numerous blacksmith conferences, schools, and colleges.  He has won two international awards for design and workmanship from the National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association (NOMMA.)  He served on the (ABANA) board of directors from 2000-2006 and is now the new editor of the Hammer’s Blow magazine.

francis-and-dan-march-1991 pabst chandeleir Fireplace Andirons

What we talked about

  • Dan’s interest in blacksmithing derived from a childhood of self-sufficiency at a family summer cabin in the backwoods of Wisconsin. He visited a blacksmith shop nearby and was excited to see the craft was still alive.
  • He eventually signed up to take a workshop from the blacksmith shop he visited a couple of years earlier. The owners of the shop were impressed with how quickly Dan was learning to swing the hammer and asked if he would like to work at the shop in trade for knowledge.  Dan said yes!
  • Soon he was signed up with many ABANA affiliates, the Illinois Valley Guild of Metalsmiths, Blacksmiths Association of Missouri, Indiana Blacksmithing Association, Alabama Forge Council and more, to learn what other’s around the country were doing within the blacksmithing world.
  • His turning point in blacksmithing came when he spent eight days learning from Francis Whitaker, a modern master blacksmith who worked with Samuel Yellin and Julias Schramm.
  • In 1993, Dan opened his first blacksmith shop and was able to survive with an income from this business. Two years later, in 1995, he noticed there was a blacksmith shop in Bailey’s Harbor, WI (the Cape Cod of WI) that he wanted to be involved with to sell his forged pieces.
  • Then Dan was able also to lease the blacksmith shop where Dan took his first class; this would make three blacksmith shops that Dan was running at the same time!
  • Filling his retail shop in Bailey’s Harbor with forged pieces and filling wholesale orders for The Pottery Barn and Kohler were the main source of income for 11 years. In 2003 both of those companies stopped ordering from Dan and went to China to fill their orders.
  • Dan is now a “one man band” working out of his shop, Big Horn Forge. He teaches blacksmithing classes out of his shop, offering 11 workshops for up to 4 students at a time.
  • Dan was offered a grant from the Francis Whitaker Educational Blacksmith Foundation to photograph the works of Cyril Colnik, the famed Austrian-born metals master. This led him to become the project director on a documentary film called “Forged Elegance.” The video aired on Milwaukee and Wisconsin Public Television. Colnik worked as a smith in Milwaukee during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His works can be seen around Milwaukee—most notably at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum.
  • In 2005, Dan won a National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association (NOMMA) “Top Job Award” for a chandelier he reproduced for the “Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion”, Milwaukee, WI. This reproduction of a chandelier that master blacksmith Cyril Colnik made was one of the hardest jobs Dan had ever completed.
  • Another NOMMA Top Job Award Dan received was for a set of gates he worked on in conjunction with Finelli Ironworks. He made 100 compound rosettes and 64 sets of compound square rosettes (with each rosette taking 5 ½ hours to make) for the gates.
  • Dan is now the new editor for the ABANA publication called the Hammer’s Blow magazine.
  • Dan’s meaning of being a blacksmith and how the 9 forging fundamentals (drawing, upsetting, bending, twisting, joints, forge welding, punching, slitting) cannot be found in any other metal craft.
  • He talks about his direction for the publication, including metalworking compliments such as repousse and chasing. Peter Ross, Tom Latane, Doug Wilson and Bob Walsh will be his “writer’s staff”.

nomma-2015-top-job-award Dan Teaching

Links:

Dan’s Bighorn Forge website – http://www.bighornforge.com/

Facebook page for Bighorn Forge, Inc – https://www.facebook.com/Bighorn-Forge-Inc-202367173116761/

Bighorn’s Blog website – https://bighornforge.wordpress.com/

A Big Thank You to today’s sponsor – ABANA ABANA logo

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2 thoughts on “Episode #48 Dan Nauman “Blacksmith Archaeology”

  1. I served on the ABANA Board with Dan Nauman and have followed his carer. He is a great guy and an excellent blacksmith. I know that he will do a wonderful job as editor of “The Hammer’s Blow”.

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