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14th Annual Blacksmith Exhibition

Saturday, March 28 – Saturday May 30, 2020

This spring Toe River Arts hosts its 14th Annual Blacksmith Exhibit at its Spruce Pine gallery, opening online March 28. Featuring the work of blacksmiths from the southeast and beyond, this exhibition offers craftspeople the opportunity to show their work in a place known for its blacksmithing community.

Historically the exhibition runs in conjunction with the Fire on the Mountain Blacksmithing Festival. Spruce Pine Main Street, in collaboration with Penland School of Craft and Toe River Arts, hosts the festival every year on the last weekend in April. The public can explore vendor tents for goods for sale, observe live demonstrations, or try their hand at blacksmithing at scheduled workshops.

Toe River Arts Exhibit Manager Kathryn Andree organized this year’s exhibit as well as many in the past. Andree notes, “With our rich history of blacksmithing, this is the perfect exhibit for Spruce Pine. The show is never curated—so anyone can exhibit. That brings together professionals and those learning on their own to share their ideas with each other.”

Every year, the Fire on the Mountain Festival asks a renowned metalworker to join the festival as its Master Blacksmith. This is an opportunity to bring big names from around the country to Spruce Pine to share their talent and skills. Last year brought John Rais from Philadelphia, PA; years before brought Maegan E. Crowley from Colorado and artists from Wisconsin, Virginia and Arizona.

This year’s Master Blacksmith is Elizabeth Brim, a local blacksmith, with ties to Penland School of Craft, who has a permanent public installation in downtown Spruce Pine. Born and raised in Columbus, Georgia, Brim graduated with an MFA in printmaking from the University of Georgia before she moved to this area. Once here, she expanded her skills at Penland School of Craft, taking classes as a core fellow before eventually teaching classes herself. She later served as the Iron Studio Coordinator. Since then, she has continued to tackle gender stereotypes with the imagery in her work, breaking into a male-dominated craft, hammer in hand, with pearls around her neck.

Toe River Arts will present $2,500 in cash awards to exhibitors. Best in Show will receive $1,000, Outstanding Functional and Outstanding Nonfunctional will receive $600 each, and Emerging Artist will receive $300. A People’s Choice Award will be given, the trophy being a handmade tool by blacksmith Seth Gould.

Following the cancellation of the Fire on the Mountain Blacksmithing Festival, it was announced that Elizabeth Brim will be next year’s Master Blacksmith. 

Best in Show

Tango, John Winer

Tango is a story in iron. The Dance of Two Lovers, inspired by the music, dancing and street art of Buenos Aires. Originally designed as a test piece for an improvisational workshop, Tango ultimately expresses the passion, joy, and rhythm of true love.” – John Winer

Mild steel with wax finish
35H x 25W x 29D in


Outstanding Non-Functional

Perforated Erratic, Hoss Haley

Sculptor Hoss Haley creates two and three dimensional works in steel, concrete, and bronze. He favors industrial materials and fabrication methods, often building or adapting the machines and tools he uses to produce his work. Hoss has completed public art projects for the Pack Square Conservancy (Asheville, NC), Charlotte Area Transit System and Mecklenburg County (NC) as well as several privately commissioned large-scale steel sculptures. Hoss’s work has been shown at several museums and galleries nationwide, and he has been a resident artist at Penland School of Craft (NC) and at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center (WI). Hoss learned machining and steel fabrication at an early age and then apprenticed as a blacksmith for several years in Texas and New Mexico. Decades later his work is heavily influenced both conceptually and aesthetically by the western landscape of his youth.

Perforated Erratic
Formed and fabricated perforated steel
12.5H x 14W x 16D in

@hosshaley | hosshaley.com

Outstanding Functional

Anchor, Zach Noble

“The Anchor was made as a personal project between paying jobs. Everyone needs an anchor for different reasons. This particular anchor utilizes many different forging techniques and was a personal challenge to make as well.”
– Zack Noble

Zack Noble lives with his family in Asheville, NC. There he runs a metalworking shop, primarily working alone. Creating custom designs with a focus on forged iron, his work runs the gamut from architectural to sculptural and everything in between. 

17H x 32.5W x 28D in
Forged iron

@noble_zack | zacknoble.com

Emerging Artist

Tim Spurchise

Tim Spurchise received his MFA with a glass specialization from Southern Illinois University Carbondale this May. Throughout his time at SIU, he took blacksmithing classes, one of which was specifically focused in Damascus pattern welding. Combining his years of glass experience with these newfound skills, he forged two of the most ubiquitous of the glassblowers’ hand tools – the jacks and the tweezers.

Damascus Jacks
1095, 15N20 and S7 steel
1.75H x 17W x 3.5D in⁣

Damascus Tweezers
1095 and 15N20 steel
1H x 9.5W x 1.5D in

@tspurchise | timspurchise.com

People’s Choice

Happy Hour at the Rusty Bucket, Norman Rabek

Norman Rabek’s work combines his love of nature and his joy of working in metal. “Steel is a delightful medium. It is rigid, unyielding and impervious, yet can be made to look sinuous and alive. I love being able to take a cold piece of metal and bringing it to life.” – Norman Rabek

“I’ve always loved watching the way that an octopus moves—the flexibility and fluidity—and I wanted to recreate some of that movement in steel, while adding a bit of whimsy. After sketching out several ideas for a piece, I started making tentacles to get a feel for their movement. As I made more, they started interacting with each other, and the idea for a social gathering of octopi evolved. And, just like people crowding into a pub at the end of a stressful week, cephalopods enjoy a good dive bar on a Friday night.”

Happy Hour at the Rusty Bucket
38.5H x 36W x 40D in


Elizabeth Brim | Apron, 1987 | forged, fabricated steel

Mark Woodham | Untitled | forged and welded steel

Owen Von Riedesel | Ulu Knives and Cutting Board | steel, wrought iron, damascus steel, brass and wood

Works by Seth Gould

Cocktail Spoon, 2020 | copper

Corkscrew, 2014 | steel

Chasing Hammer, 2020 | 1045, hickory

Bottle Opener, 2014 | steel

Crosspeen Hammer, 2020 | 1045, hickory

Zach Noble | Exploration of Line #8 | forged iron

Works by Stephen Thomas

Hoss Haley | Perforated Erratic | formed and fabricated perforated steel

Norman Rabek | Beans and Rice | steel and rice

Rachel Kedinger | The Scrape | steel and glass enamel set

Norman Rabek | Happy Hour at the Rusty Bucket | steel

Chuck Young & Deana Blanchard | Circlegate | metal, enamel

Scotty Utz | Anchored to Hope | mild steel, hard wood, soft copper

Rex Ray, Jr. | Candle Holder | steel

Rex Ray, Jr. | Leaf Key Chain | steel

Rex Ray, Jr. | Spatula | steel

John Winer & Flavio Parr Ortiz | Two Brothers | mild steel with linseed and wax finish

David Burtt | Door Knocker | forged steel

Kailey Robinson | Viking Princess | steel rod, quartz, copper wire

Kailey Robinson | Monster Teeth | steel, flat bar and rod

Scotty Utz | Trip Advisor | mild steel

Zach Noble | Anchor | forged iron

Jeff McDowell | Bellbottom | steel

Steve Joslyn | Pine Lamp | forged steel

Steve Joslyn | Cedar Lamp | forged steel

Cole Aurichio | Sting Ray | steel

Johnny Thacker | Fireplace Set | forged steel

Hoss Haley | Round Corrugated Silo | die forged and fabricated steel with paint

Cole Aurichio | Archosaur | steel

William Locke | Untitled | steel, copper

William Locke | Untitled | steel

Elizabeth Belz | Lady Bug Small, Large | forged mild steel

Chuck Young & Deana Blanchard | Good Morning Sunshine | painted metal

John Winer | Tango | mild steel with wax finish

Johnny Thacker | Self Driven | forged steel

Travis O’nan | Raise | steel

Tim Spurchise | Damascus Jacks | 1095, 15N20, S7 steel

Damascus Tweezers | 1095 and 15N20 steel

Elizabeth Brim | Bouquet, 2001 | forged, fabricated steel

Elizabeth Brim | Small Pillow, 2016 | fabricated, inflated forged steel

Elizabeth Brim | Martha’s Bouquet, 1999 | forged, fabricated steel

Elizabeth Brim | Bubba, 1989 | forged steel

Elizabeth Brim | Diamond, 2020 | forged steel

Elizabeth Brim | Magnolia, 1999 | forged steel