The Dancing Hammer is not your typical smithy or metal shop. You are greeted outside by masses of rusted and peeling metal parts and shapes—sitting in piles, sticking in the ground and hanging from the roof and trees along the garden next to this welcoming shop. Inside, you’ll find the usual forge, fire, old anvil and racks of hammers and tongs, but there are also myriads of metal shapes adorning the walls and ceiling and filling tables and shelves. It is a place where metal is celebrated in all its forms. Inspiration is in the air, and new projects are constantly taking shape.
John’s passion for metal all started in the early 1970’s when he enrolled at the Turley Forge School of Blacksmithing in Santa Fe, New Mexico and fell in love with hot steel for the first time. A few years later he took his appetite for this ancient craft to Old Sturbridge Village, an outdoor museum of early 19th century rural New England life, where he honed his skills in historical costume in a traditional blacksmith shop with bellows and a massive brick forge. In the 1980’s the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts beckoned him with its world famous collection of historical arms and armor. He joined the staff and later became the Director.
Finally, in the mid 1990’s he moved his young family to an old 18th century farmstead in nearby Spencer and set up his own shop. The Dancing Hammer was born and for more than 25 years there, under a giant old ash tree (Sorry, Longfellow–not a chestnut!), the anvil has been ringing and the metal piling up! As the forge has grown, so have the commissions which continue to excite and challenge John as his skill and artistry expand and evolve.