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Forging new traditions: Only blacksmith in Giles County works to teach others the trade

Joshua Langfitt of Newport owns and operates JJL Forge

Feel Good Friday: Forging new traditions

Newport – While spending more time at home, many of us have been taking up new hobbies, working on home projects and finding new ways to productively pass the time and possibly have an outlet.

For one Giles County man, the greatest stress reliever is a hammer and fire. 39-year-old Joshua Langfitt of Newport is the county’s only professional blacksmith, and one of the few in the region.

It’s a craft he’s mastered after 23 years working to perfect the lost art. He keeps historical traditions alive one piece at a time.

“For someone who has a little bit of a creative soul, you can just shut your brain off and work the metal,” Langfitt said. ”The metal will kind of tell you what it needs to be."

He makes it all; from knives and chain links, to tools and blades.

His most frequent request, however, is a more delicate item.

"I do a lot of roses,” Langfitt said.

He's made quite a few for his wife, Leslie. He even creates intricate hairpins, decorative flowers and leaves.

"It's like moving clay around a lot. Once it’s up to temperature you can't physically touch it so you've got to use tools and they became an extension of your body,” Langfitt said. “That skill set transitions into a lot of life I think.”

That’s why he’s working to teach the next generation the trade. Passing the torch, he makes online tutorials to help spark interest, exposure to the trade and share his expertise.

“In order to teach the next generation, I think it's vitally important because it does keep that craft alive,” Langfitt said.

While Langfitt admits in today’s modern era, there may not be as much of a pressing demand for blacksmithing, he says it’s an important skill to pass on. After nearly two decades, it’s become a priority for him to teach young people.

“It becomes a very important part of your life,” Langfitt said.

Langfitt is the president of the SWVA Blacksmith guild. He says there are multiple guilds throughout the commonwealth. Virginia has more blacksmiths than any other state, primarily due to the number of historical sites and museums, according to Langfitt.

Langfitt works full time now as a blacksmith and has his own business, JJL Forge. His items are available for purchase. He’s also working to host workshops with local museums.

Those interested should contact Smithfield Plantation or message him directly through his Facebook page.

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