Methow Valley Blacksmith Dan Russell
Some time in 2004 we were in Winthrop, Washington and happened upon a blacksmith's shop featuring hooks, fire place tools, candle holders and a sundry of other hardware for furnishing the home. We were in love with the hand made items and bought a number of pieces. The shop has since closed and the blacksmith retired. About the same time of our first visit, Dan Russell was getting his start in the very same shop as a part time employee. Dan originally came to the Methow Valley as a biologist working for the US Forest Service. Dan took seasonal part time work in the blacksmith shop which appealed to him and over time wanted to learn more about smithing. After the old smith retired and shut down his shop Dan acquired some of the equipment and began to set up his shop and business.
Living in Twisp over this last summer while building our home in Wenatchee, we regularly shopped at the Twisp Farmer's Market. There was (and regularly is) a booth at the market with metal wares that looked just like the items we had seen and bought from the shop in Winthrop years ago, but it was a younger guy running the booth - Dan Russell. We talked to Dan for a few minutes and made the connection to the old shop and that he was the owner of Russell's Blacksmith Shop. We immediately knew that these items would be a perfect contrast with straight and angular lines of the house we were building.
We eventually ordered drawer pulls, coat hooks, towel hooks, key hooks, a strop hook, toilet paper dispensers and a poker for the wood stove for the new home. Dan also makes shelf brackets, unique candle holders, many items I have failed to list and he does custom work. Dan invited us to his shop to look at and discuss designs. He described his shop as looking like a castle.
When the items were finished I returned to Dan's shop to pick them up and take some photographs as he worked.
Dan utilizes and anvil and a cutting tool to cut hot metal.
Here Dan is using a power hammer to pound out the initial shape of a leaf pattern.
Again using a hammer and anvil to refine the leaf shape.
Using a fuller to put the veins in the leaf.
Dan uses a ball peen hammer to put a concave and convex shape in the leaf.
Pictured above are all the drawer pulls before they were installed on our rustic Shaker style cabinets. I will post some photos of all the items once installed. Below is a detail of the wood stove poker handle and hanging hook.
I am grateful to be able to meet some of the people responsible for making the things that will go into our home. These are the things we will touch every day and know the items are unique, made by human hands and with care.
Dan may be contacted by email at: [email protected]
Fascinating article. Glad to see blacksmiths are still around. Beautiful works of art for your home.
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