Hard-Working Americans: The Blacksmith

August 25, 2019Maggie BenZvi
Coffee or Die Photo

The mix of art and craft keeps this blacksmith of 20 years going.

Jonathan Rummel, owner/operator of Hand Forged Works in North Andover, Massachusetts, sees himself as both an artisan and a craftsman. 

“I think there’s a fine line between the two of them,” he said. “It definitely crosses over into both directions. I’m very engineering-based and I solve a lot of problems, but I’m also very artistic in my interpretation of certain things.”

Photo by Marty Skovlund, Jr./Coffee or Die.

Why do you do what you do?

I do what I do because it’s something I’ve been drawn to since I was a child. Not necessarily blacksmithing in particular, but working with my hands, craft, building, designing, taking things apart, putting them back together — just figuring out how things work.

What do people get wrong about your line of work?

People typically assume that I would work with horses or swords for a living, but that’s definitely not the case. Typically, I’m making railings, architectural work, sculptural things for residential and commercial spaces.

Are you still passionate about what you do? If so, why?

Absolutely. Incredibly passionate. I question that on a weekly basis, but absolutely. It’s in my lifeblood. It’s something that drives me to get up every day and just come in here and crank the work out.

Photo by Marty Skovlund, Jr./Coffee or Die.

What’s been your hardest day on the job?

Could be any point of any given day necessarily, but typically I don’t stop for very long. If something is challenging, I face it head on and I just immediately start to solve the problem. Whether it’s a physical project issue or a management issue or something. 

Do you want me to paint you a full-blown disaster story? How about the time that we built an entire staircase in the shop here and it almost didn’t fit out the door by about an inch and a half. That could have possibly been the worst day. 

Maggie BenZvi
Maggie BenZvi

Maggie BenZvi is a contributing editor for Coffee or Die. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Chicago and a master’s degree in human rights from Columbia University, and has worked for the ACLU as well as the International Rescue Committee. She has also completed a summer journalism program at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. In addition to her work at Coffee or Die, she’s a stay-at-home mom and, notably, does not drink coffee. Got a tip? Get in touch!

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