Blacksmith Robert Jordan
Orleans' village smithy, By Bill Fonda/ email@example.com, Friday, May 27, 2005
ORLEANS - It started as a thin rod of scrap metal that Robert Jordan pulled out of a barrel at his Captain Doane Way home. However, by the time Jordan heated it, pounded it with a hammer on his anvil and a mechanical sledgehammer, heated it again and pounded it some more, that scrap metal turned into a leaf, complete with visible veins, a curl at the end and a stem. He then pulled out a thick piece that had been heating at more than 2,500 degrees, clamped it in a vise and cranked out a twist in the glowing orange metal.
"Everybody thinks you're Arnold Schwarzenegger to do this job," said Jordan, who is a big man. "You don't have to be. You let the heat do the work for you." Jordan, 61, has been a blacksmith for 35 years, even though he was trained as an electronics engineer. Since 1998, he has been turning metal into works of art in his shop beneath his garage. "It's very dirty in here, so if you lean up against something, you're going to walk away with dirt on you," he said.
Flipping through a photo album of some of his favorite works, Jordan stopped at a cross he did for the Community of Jesus, with 12 jewels set in it for the 12 tribes of Israel. When the sun hits the cross from behind during the summer, the jewels light up. "They kind of call it divine intervention, but I'm not going there," he said. Other pictures of Jordan's handiwork include a copper cross he did for a church in Eastham, England - after meeting the town's mayor at the local Eastham Windmill Weekend - a small table with copper draped over it to look like a tablecloth, a Rock Harbor sunset, wine racks and a fish and shells for a fireplace that he hammered over a stump. "I don't have a mold, but I shape it with different hammering techniques," he said.
At the International Teaching Center for Metal Design in Aachen, Germany, where Jordan studied for three months in 1992, he said the stump was tall, with lots of branches. "They would use little nooks and crannies for different ways of molding the metal," he said.
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