Man of steel: Meredith blacksmith forges ahead
By BEA LEWIS
— David Little likes to play with fire, but its appeal is to create, not destroy.
Little, the owner of Winnipesaukee Forge, is an artist-blacksmith who has developed the skills to deftly manipulate red-hot steel.
His high-ceilinged warehouse space on Winona Road is rife with anvils, medieval-looking tools and black ovens that breathe fire.
“I’m attracted to the materials and the process,” he said.
After being introduced to fire and forge at summer camp when he was a teen, Little admits he was smitten.
His connection to the Lakes Region comes through his paternal great- grandfather, who bought property on Meredith Neck in 1910. The elder Little was a silversmith, but also did some blacksmithing in his work building boats.
Little discovered his ancestor’s forge and used it to hone his craft. After attending Marlboro College in Vermont, he opened his first solo business.
His passion for pounding hot metal received the ultimate spark, Little said, when he attended a workshop at the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts taught by the master blacksmith at Colonial Williamsburg.
Today he divides his time between crafting custom furniture, light fixtures and fireplace screens, but also makes other architectural elements.
Little said landscaping trends that feature granite steps and terracing has increased interest in custom metal railings that can be shaped with a particular motif and sized to fit any space.
Some of his metal work invokes memories of his childhood spent outdoors. He incorporates organic elements including pine cones, oak leaves and acorns among others, each so exactingly crafted that it is difficult to comprehend they are wrought from metal.
“My work is all about a reinterpretation of nature,” he said, pointing to a candelabra with ginkgo leaves or a chair entwined with grape vines, grape leaves and plump bunches of the fruit.
Just back from displaying his work at the 85th Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair in Newbury, Little said he enjoys answering questions about his work and being among a group of artisans that are compelled to create.
“It’s an opportunity to interact with the public. Being in that whole microcosm for nine days with neighbors and friends with whom you have so much in common, with the pure intent of an artist, makes for some great energy,” he said.
His compendium of tools, include a 3½-pound cross-peen sledgehammer owned by his great grandfather, as well as an assortment of tongs and other hammers he made himself.
A 2½-ton power hammer he salvaged from a scrap yard 30 years ago, manufactured by the Bradley Hammer Co. in the 1880s, spent nearly 100 years in a factory making tools that were sold by Sears, Roebuck and Co.
It continues to produce the rhythmic sounds that have become the cadence of Little’s workplace.
Little was recently commissioned to craft a “tree of life” of forged bronze. The tree, eight feet tall by 12 feet wide. will have 400 stainless steel leaves engraved with the names of a Connecticut church’s congregants and be mounted on the outside of the building.
“I’m grateful to be able to use my work to help further the mission of nonprofits and to help people,” Little said. “I live an honest and deliberate life working with my hands and take great pleasure from it.”
For more information about Little and his work, visit irontable.com.