ROFFA member Mark Tedeschini
After witnessing the destruction that fire is capable of as a firefighter, a Kemptville resident now uses it to create practical tools and works of art in the traditional form of blacksmithing.
Mark Tedeschini says the irony isn’t lost on him that, after battling flames for 30 years with the Ottawa Fire Service, now he’s playing with it. The transition allows him to see fire as more of a friend than an enemy.
When he retired in 2012, Tedeschini had just purchased his farm on Whitney Road outside of Kemptville, including a 19th century barn he had a vision to restore.
The property offered all kinds of metal and old wood lying around, “so I started making things,” Tedeschini explained.
It only takes a few thousand dollars to get started as a blacksmith, says Tedeschini – you just need an anvil, a coal or propane forge, and the basic tools.
After trading a snow plow for tools and a coal forge, Tedeschini used YouTube to learn the art of blacksmithing.
“That was how I learned everything I know,” he said. “I’m a YouTube blacksmith.”
Now, half of his barn is the workshop of 1215 Metalworks, his home-based business, where he creates anything from coat racks and fireplace tools to Japanese-style knives, custom furniture, and campfire grills, which have been his best-seller during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Retired from the fire service, Tedeschini still finds creative ways to give back to his community.
As a full-time volunteer at the Ferguson Forest Dog Park, Tedeschini built a watering station for the dogs with the help of a woodworking friend which he replenishes with fresh water every day.
He’s also decorated the watering station with a number of plasma-cut silhouettes of many of the dogs who visit the park frequently. Some of the pieces pay tribute to local dogs that have been lost.
For the past 5-6 years, Tedeschini has been hammering away full-time, now equipped with a propane forge as well as a coal forge. This year, he started putting on blacksmith demonstrations at markets and other local events, including the Metcalfe Farmers’ Market, where he sells his creations and teaches tricks of the trade.
This fall, you can catch Tedeschini at the Christmas Market at the Merrickville Fairgrounds Saturday, Nov. 13 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.