Blacksmith creates utilitarian beauty

— Photo by TTU Photo Servies
This piece, titled “Weathered Stone,” was part of Noah Khoury’s bachelor of fine arts thesis he completed at the Appalachian Center for Craft in Dec. 2012. “It was made using salvaged marble, forged and fabricated steel, hand formed copper, and found stones for the base,” Khoury said.

— Photo by Jim Miller of Desolation Road Studios
Standing at his forge, Noah Khoury works to create handmade items from nails and latches to candle holders and coffee tables.

— Photo provided by Alvin Breisch
Local blacksmith, Noah Khoury, standing in front of his shop at the Heldeberg Workshop. Khoury teaches blacksmithing to middle and high school students there each summer.

NEW SCOTLAND — In a world where most things we own are mass produced, intimate creativity and handiwork have mostly fallen by the wayside. But there are still some people who spend their time working with their hands, crafting each item they make with passion and attention to detail.
Noah Khoury is one of them.

He first became interested in blacksmith work while watching his father at his blacksmithing business in Altamont. Years later, he chose to attend college for sculpture, but, after two-and-a-half years, he felt the fit wasn’t right for him.

“I wasn’t getting enough schooling in technique,” he said. The program was more focused on concept than the process of turning that concept into a reality.

This led him to transfer to the Appalachian Center for Craft in Tennessee, a craft school where he earned a bachelor of fine arts  degree in metals in 2012.

There he honed and increased his skills so he could make functional items as well as conceptual, artistic ones.

Inspired by trips to the scrapyard and junkyard with his father as a child, Khoury enjoys incorporating salvaged pieces of old buildings or other structures in his work.

The immense manmade structures seem permanent, he said, but “the natural world has transcended them and swallowed them up.”

Most of his commissioned work is making historical reproductions and repairs, forging nails, bolts, and latches. He also was asked to construct an arbor for the Altamont Manor. The white-painted arbor is about 10 feet high, and features traditional scrollwork.

“It’s pretty nice to look at, I would say,” Khoury said with a laugh.

In the warmer months, he spends time teaching blacksmithing to kids at the Heldeberg Workshop, where he went as a child when his father was teaching the class. Khoury has hand tools and a little portable forge at the workshop, and has been teaching his skills to middle and high school students since 2007.

“Most of the students I get I think sincerely enjoy the class,” he said. The class gives kids a chance to work with their hands, which, Khoury said, is something they don’t get to do enough these days.

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Registration is open for this summer’s courses at the Heldeberg Workshop. Forms, fees, and other information can be found at heldebergworkshop.org

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