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George Cramer is working toward promoting and growing the art of blacksmithing as owner of Village Blacksmith in Gloucester’s Historic Courthouse Village.
Cramer started the business back in 2015 after being named a winner of the “Launch Gloucester” entrepreneur contest. On February 4, Gloucester County Chamber of Commerce named Village Blacksmith 2016’s New Business Of The Year.
Cramer makes everything from hardware and furniture to business signs and sculptures. Nearly all the work he does in his showroom is custom-made.
“What I love about this job is that it is always changing,” he said. “We never have the same product going out the door. The customers are the idea drivers, and we enjoy taking their vision and turning it into a product.”
Cramer, who grew up in New York, first began welding when he was 14. He learned the ropes from his father and later enrolled in blacksmith classes.
“My dad showed me the basics of welding, and I also learned some on my own,” he said. “My mom was also an artist. A blacksmith combines both. I am taking a hammer, an anvil, and hot steel, and shaping it into something. I have more of an appreciation for something because I am working with my hands. I find it rewarding because it is something that not many people can do.”
Cramer and his apprentice create grills and signs for businesses throughout Gloucester as well as other items including railings, gates, fire pokers, fire place screens, sculptures, hand forged knives, custom furniture, lighting, home décor, and hardware products such as hooks and bottle openers.
“I recently made hand forged golf tees for a guy who likes to play golf in the winter time,” Cramer said. “His tees kept breaking off in the frozen ground. It’s been awesome seeing what jobs come through the door.”
Village Blacksmith also does salvage, repurposing and upcycling work. In addition, the shop offers tours, demonstrations, and classes. A three-day basic blacksmithing course covers the fundamental techniques including safety tips; etiquette; tools and their uses; main skills of a blacksmith; fire/forge management; hammer techniques; and ergonomics and other tips. Cramer hopes to eventually add more courses.
“There is a high degree of interest in metal work, and we want to show people what the great thing about this is,” Cramer said. “I’d also like to work with other artists to make this a one stop shop for all handmade crafts.”
Beyond Village Blacksmith, Cramer also teaches welding classes at Advanced Technology Institute (ATI) in Virginia Beach. Cramer and his wife, Hannah, who is from Williamsburg, are also relishing life with a newborn daughter.
Cramer is also a member of the Tidewater Blacksmiths Guild, which is dedicated to the promotion of the craft.
“What we do is really unique,” he said. “The craft needs to be preserved. There are still a lot of things today that need to be done by hand. The possibilities of things that you can make with raw material are endless.”
Village Blacksmith is open Monday through Thursday by appointment; Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit gloucesterblacksmith.com.
Read more profiles of local residents in WYDaily’s section In Our Hometown.