Blacksmith puts heart into traditional art form

  • By Theresa Goffredo, Herald Writer
  • Thursday, August 9, 2007 12:53pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

Blacksmith Thomas Taranowski offered two suggestions for anyone coming up to see him Saturday during the Arts Index Festival.

Don’t forget to bring whatever metal thing you have at home that needs straightening.

And don’t forget to bring the kids. They love to see blacksmiths at work and, this is kind of technical, but here’s why: “They love seeing the metal being squished around,” Taranowski said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Taranowski is among the 40 artists demonstrating their techniques during the fourth annual Arts Index Festival starting at 10 a.m. Saturday. The festival is sprawled throughout the historic buildings and streets of this rural community nestled near the Cascades. Those artists may be bronze sculptors, poets or painters, all unique and viewed in a spectacular rural setting.

Taranowski is unique in that he’s basically a nerd wielding a heavy hammer.

“I’m a software engineer. I realize I’m a nerd,” Taranowski admitted. “When you work with the computer, it’s very virtual. You don’t see the fruits of your labor. In iron, you do something, whether it’s good or bad, it’s there for 100 years.”

Taranowski, 31, came late in life to blacksmithing, discovering it on his own by picking up a book on the subject about five years ago, just a few years before he and his wife, Heath, and their two young children had moved to Baring.

That book ignited some deep-seated passion inside him and Taranowski was, as he puts it, obsessed. He started with a cheap, 3-pound Home Depot hammer and something to bang on and began to forge.

Then, Taranowski discovered the Northwest Blacksmith Association. He attended one of their conferences in Corvallis, Ore., and, as the phrase goes, his eyes were opened to what amazing things could be done in this field.

“I go to these conferences now fairly frequently and I move up to a different plateau each time,” he said.

Today, Taranowski makes just about anything, from hinges to kinetic sculptures that blow in the wind. He said he once made a bracket for a customer who wanted to hang up a plastic crucifix. “That was probably the most bizarre thing I’ve made so far.”

Taranowski proudly confessed that he works slowly, taking time with his hammer and anvil because he’s not in it for the money, but for the passion. He could weld pieces of metal together and increase his production, but that’s not what matters. For him, it’s the quality of a craft that he’s hoping to keep alive.

“There’s always that difference between art and production. You sell a lot more by cutting corners and welding stuff together and a lot of people, frankly, don’t notice the difference, but it would make a difference to me,” Taranowski said. “When you heat up the metal and hammer, it takes on this form. It’s like the energy of the artist that goes into it and it’s almost inexplicable.”

Taranowski will be demonstrating his blacksmithing skill at the Arts Index Festival most of the day. He’s not sure where he’ll be exactly, but visitors are sure to find him, he said.

“Just listen for the clang.”

Arts writer Theresa Goffredo: 425-339-3424 or goffredo@heraldnet.com.

Blacksmith Thomas Taranowski at work.

More in Life

Rockhounds unearth a righteous gemstone near Darrington

It’s the discovery of a lifetime — an 8-ton nephrite jade boulder.

Everett’s biggest little spot for music is Black Lab Gallery

With live shows almost every weekend, it’s become the place to hear up-and-coming local musicians.

Snow days start out grand but quickly cause cabin fever

The recent bout of snowy weather made her family feel all of the emotions. Here’s a day-by-day recap.

Rick Steves on what’s new for travelers in Great Britain

Many travelers are curious about how Brexit is affecting tourists — from his experience, it isn’t.

Interior designer Kelly DuByne shows off Pantone’s Color of the Year, classic blue, with a setting featuring an antique Victrola cabitnet painted with the color and staged with neutral colors and strong white accents. (Dan Bates / The Herald)
This year’s Color of the Year is a timeless hue — classic blue

A Lake Stevens interior designer calls it a “grounded” tone, easily worked into existing color palettes.

Dr. Paul on how to keep your cool when you’ve been triggered

When your body goes into fight-or-flight mode due to stress, follow these steps to calm yourself down.

Here are 5 free days you can visit a national park in 2020

Of the more than 400 parks in the National Park Service, the most popular charge parking and entrance fees.

Great Plant Pick: Erica carnea ‘Vivellii,’ winter heath

This evergreen spreading shrub will provide you with a profusion of pink flowers in the winter.

For the love of orchards: How to grow fruit trees in your yard

Homeowners have lots of space-saving options when it comes to growing apples, cherries, pears and more.

Most Read