A century ago he was a necessity in every community, but now the blacksmith is a vanishing breed, except for those few artisans who put the ancient skill to use as an art form. One of them is right here in the Capital City, and you can see his work at Saturday's Arts Market in downtown Baton Rouge.
When he was just a kid growing up in Oklahoma Carl Zvonek had two great uncles who had blacksmith shops down by the railroad tracks. He says, "My dad would take me to the blacksmith shop, and we would have our plow shares sharpened, and I guess it got in there that way."
The art of the smithy was in Carl's blood to stay, resurfacing years later in the art he creates at the forge and anvil. "I think that the thing that I like about it is that you can take a piece of metal and form it into whatever you want to form it into if you have got the ability."
Those childhood trips down to the tracks stayed with Carl, too. Big favorites are the knives he makes out of railroad spikes. "They're fun to do," he explains. "It's a little unusual for people to see things like that. They think it's a novelty. I've had people tell me that they have skinned out three deer with one before they had to sharpen it."
Carl's forge has also produced lamps, wall hangings and ornaments of all sorts.
"There's a lot of lost art here that we're trying to regain," says Carl, a warrior for fine art battling hammer and tong.