Blacksmith to shape hot metal at South Park

Dennis Timmerman's pastimes include blacksmithing, and he'll be at South Park during Ag Days with a demonstration. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
By : 
Spring Valley Tribune

Dennis Timmerman loves to twist hot metal.

The retired Lutheran pastor, also a dabbler in metal works and blacksmithing, will give a demonstration of his skills as a smithy at South Park Saturday, Aug. 18, during this year’s Ag Days celebration.

“I thought it would be fun to heat up metal and twist it around – that’s why I like doing demos.  It’s fascinating to take a bunch of young people and show them that you can twist it around when it’s hot, until it’s hard as steel again,” said Timmerman. “I think most of the time, people, if you give them the opportunity, they marvel at how soft metal is and what you can do with it when it’s hot.  You can do all sorts of stuff when it’s hot…carefully.”

Timmerman plans to show his art to numerous people who stop by his little forge and anvil at South Park where he will be demonstrating how to do split crosses and possibly a wall hook.

He finds it satisfying to work with metal because of the opportunity to design his own pieces and make what he needs with his own hands if he sees something in a store that he’d like to have.

“I’ve messed around with metal for quite a while.  The first place I served a church, for Christmas, the congregation gave me a Lincoln 225S arc welder,” he said.

He became interested in blacksmithing as an art form after taking several courses through Rochester Community Education. He was fortunate that the classes were only five miles up the road at Tunnel Mill.  In 2010, he went to the Jim Campbell Folk School and took a weeklong course in blacksmithing, which he took again last year. 

“I’ve got tools that I’ve accumulated over the years,” he said. “I got a forge maybe 20 years ago, and I have a big forge in my shop that isn’t as portable.  I thought it would be fun to heat up some metal and twist it around.” 

His blacksmithing is for the hearth and home as he noted he doesn’t do horseshoes. “There were the farriers, and then there was the blacksmiths. The blacksmiths had to make horseshoes to stay in business.  Historically, they would be working on farm equipment,” he explained.

Since he lives in town, he has to be considerate of his neighbors as he pursues his interests in his driveway. 

“I use coke for heating.  It’s for the sake of the neighbors, because coal is stinky. Coke is a little harder to get started, but it burns hot,” said Timmerman.

Timmerman has made numerous different items, but he would have a hard time showing them.  He has given away most of his creations, such as the knife he made for his brother. His brother’s Jeep had a broken spring, and he made that into a knife with a wooden handle that said “Jeep.” The last project he made was a fireplace tool, although he has made railing plant hangers and candleholders.

“The biggest project I’ve made was a weathervane for Good Earth Village.  It’s on the building that the bell is on,” he said. “That was probably one of the bigger projects I’ve done…I put bronze bearings in it.  It was probably one of the most ambitious.”