Submitter Question: I wanted to follow up on what you said in the dying traditional trades thread. Are there so many blacksmiths concentrated in the southern part of this country because of all the iron work in homes there? Is it more likely for a welder to repair old iron fences, or a blacksmith?
Answer: I can’t speak for the entire southeast, I really don’t know. In the greater Asheville, NC area, however, including most of western NC, eastern TN and upstate SC, there does seem to be a higher concentration than the rest of USA. It stems largely from the arts and crafts history of Asheville and the southern Appalachians. This area is very craft friendly and has been a crossroads of sorts for the craft industry for many generations. Some of the other “dying” trades, weaving, and chair making for example, are well represented by artisans in this area, as well as blacksmiths. That seems to draw buyers of said crafts, and the circle is completed as the buyers create a market for more craftsmen to peddle their wares. This increased interest is one thing that helps support the area craft schools and organizations that, in turn, create even more interest. On a more local scale cities like Charleston, (Chahlstun) SC and New Orleans, (Nawluns) LA have supported a decent market for generations simply because there is a lot of this kind of work, much of if dating back to when European craftsmen were settling in the area, bringing their skills to our shores.
Regarding the repair of old iron work more often than not a welder will be the repair person, if for no other reason than sheer numbers. While I do believe black smithing is not dying out, it is still a very specialized trade with far fewer people practicing it, compared to welding and fabricating. If I was looking to get some wrought iron repaired I would start with checking local steel shops and asking if they are competent in this type of work. Often if a given shop doesn’t want to take on a hand forged project they will know if there are any smiths in the area who will.
Appalachian Ironworks L.L.C.