93-year-old blacksmith still forging ahead
SANDWICH, Mass. (AP) — At 93, Sandwich resident Chet Ciborowski should have put away his tools and flipped off the lights to his basement workshop long ago.
But Ciborowski, who is perhaps one of the few ornamental blacksmiths living on Cape Cod, just can’t seem to stop working.
“Right now his favorite thing is the letters,” said his daughter, Jean Ciborowski Fahey. “It’s all he’s been doing.”
Deep in the basement of the East Sandwich home where he lives with his wife, Dorothy, Ciborowski takes to a dark, cold room every day, where lately he’s been crafting the iron lettering for addresses on homes. He first cuts the letters in a band saw, then uses a drill press and a jigsaw to pop out the small holes. Finally, he uses a small file to round off any rough edges.
Many of Ciborowski’s neighbors, whose homes are adorned with his handmade numbers and letters, are among those who’ve enjoyed the fruits of his labor.
Ciborowski has been been laboring at the ancient art form — which requires a slew of tools, drills and accessories, including a forge and anvil — for nearly half a century. He first opened a store off of Route 6A in West Barnstable, Pack Landing Iron, which he ran with his wife.
Rather than work to exhaustion, Ciborowski takes breaks throughout the day, said Dorothy Ciborowski.
His intricately detailed furnishings can be found in homes and businesses across Cape Cod and elsewhere. He forges everything from small hooks to hold clothing, to large fireplace screens and all sorts of lamps.
“I used to make all kinds of wrought-iron stuff,” Ciborowski said Tuesday from his basement. “It wasn’t hard to work to do.”
Ciborowski began as a welder, a skill he took with him to Thule, Greenland, during World War II. He came home and raised a family as a welder, Fahey said. Ciborowski then moved to blacksmithing when he was 50 in an effort to jump-start his creativity.
“Blacksmithing came to me kind of easy,” Ciborowski said.
For the next 30 years, he crafted a legacy out of iron, forging thousands of original, wrought-iron household items for customers, Fahey said.
Despite a loss of productivity with age, Ciborowski is still at it.
“Now at 93, he’s downsized,” she said. “There’s no more anvil going on.”
Blacksmithing has experienced something of a resurgence over the years, according to the Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America’s website. The nonprofit group began in 1973 with only 27 blacksmiths and has grown to more than 4,000, according to its website.
“It’s an unusual craft,” Fahey said. “Blacksmithing is more utilitarian. They create tools for living.”
Looking back on his career, Ciborowski said he enjoyed the work because it wasn’t so strenuous and kept him busy.
“It was satisfying,” he said.
Information from: Cape Cod (Mass.) Times, http://www.capecodtimes.com