Blacksmiths feature traditional metal working skills in Picayune

PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - The sound of hammers on anvils echoed through Crosby Arboretum in Picayune Saturday. Visitors stepped back in time, as blacksmiths shared the art of shaping iron and steel.

The annual "Forge Day" was both unique and educational.

"I enjoy the creativity, the artistic end of it, and keeping the old tradition alive," said Tom Walker.

That tradition is working with fire and steel. Walker has been honing his skills with the hammer and anvil for some 15 years.

"Originally, it was to make blades, knives, and now I make all other types of things."

The old fashioned forging is fascinating to 9-year-old Ethan Ziegeler.

"They're not really using machines," said the youngster from McComb.

Lyle Wynn teaches visitors while keeping cadence with his hammer.

"I'm using the round hammer, on the edge of the anvil," Wynn instructed.

He makes everything from decorative horseshoes to intricate jewelry.

Larry Ealy first started heating and bending metal while visiting a friend's workshop. For him, the freedom of expression is most appealing.

"Not knowing how something is going to really turn out. I don't make very many things to where I have a plan or some idea or where I want go with it," said Ealy.

Forge Day began six years ago at the arboretum and got its start from a popular blacksmith exhibit at the Piney Woods Heritage Festival.

"It's a great way to learn about, if you're interested in metal working, how to get started and try your hand at the forge," said Pat Drackett, with the MSU Extension Service.

Blacksmithing is a family affair for Charles Averett. He's teaching his boys, Hunter and Gavin, the metal trades.

"They want to follow up with what I've been doing in the shop and they've taken it on real good. Worked with people from around the world, and they're really catching on," said Averett.

Gavin is certainly handy with a hammer.

"My dad mostly taught me," Gavin said.

Brother Hunter cautions: working with fire can be challenging.

"It was at first, because I kept burning myself," Hunter said.

But he and his brother kept at it; another generation of blacksmiths.

Forge Day is always held on the last Saturday in January at the Crosby Arboretum in Picayune

Copyright 2014 WLOX. All rights reserved.