May 5 2014
"When I first walked into that shop, it was like stepping back 150 years in time," says Kent Knapp as he fondly remembers the first time he saw a blacksmith in action. He was only 19. "What I saw what those guys were doing with ridged, ugly, boring metal bars...molding it over the anvil using old tools," he continued. "It seemed like out of thin air they would make this immovable object graceful and beautiful." That's when Knapp says, he was instantly bit by the bug.
The bug to explore the ancient craft of the Blacksmith.
Fast forward a few years, Knapp now owns Milwaukee Blacksmith, Inc. Set up in a warehouse just off of Erie Street in the Third Ward, Knapp's projects range from beer bottle openers to 6-foot tall ornate fixtures commissioned for some of Milwaukee's most historic buildings.
"Teaching really started with my sons, "Knapp recalls proudly. "As soon as they hit nine, ten years old, they started hammering iron."The demand to learn this ancient trade has grown to the point where Knapp is fundraising to help pay for additional work areas in his warehouse to accommodate the increasing demand from his students. The tools they are using are no different than the tools a blacksmith used 100 years ago, they just need more of them. Once Milwaukee Blacksmith expands their classes size, they are hoping to bring in guest teachers from across the country/world to the School of Iron.