Owners: Billy and Lisa Helton
Location: Claremore, Okla.
History: Billy Helton had a seamless gutter business in Claremore, Okla., for 22 years. Ten years ago, he attended Humbug Days in Claremore and saw a heritage blacksmith demonstration.
“The blacksmith was foraging an ‘S’ hook or drive hook. That day I found both a God-given skill and a hobby. Two years later I believe the Lord also prepared me financially for a new life. With my wife Lisa’s support, I made blacksmithing my full-time occupation. Then Lisa took classes in engraving and is now part of the business. I demonstrate at community events in order to pass on what heritage blacksmithing is and some of its history. People are usually surprised to know that the first blacksmith arrived on the Mayflower in 1607 with most of our blacksmithing traditions coming from England. Blacksmithing’s importance was especially critical in agriculture with essential everyday agricultural items such as horse shoes and tools, a part of our agricultural history most have forgotten. Most people need to see a process to understand it, and I provide that experience. I was on the very first episode of ‘Forged in Fire’ on the History Channel and am a journeyman smith in the American Bladesmith Society.”
Products and Services: “For me, blacksmithing is both an art and recycling at its best. I get discarded horseshoes from farriers and turn them into something else. Some products, such as horse picks, S hooks, and steak turners, echo back to our early years, even though they are not the hammerheads or plow blades of our first farmers. Other products include campfire tripods and cooking sets, in addition to knives, which range from hunting knives to kitchen knives while other products such as names and plaques are more art. I am best known for Damascus or layered knives with patterns and am always finding ways to adapt what I see to blacksmithing.”
Philosophy and future: “Success in this business is dependent upon a relationship with the customer. This is especially easy on Facebook because they get to know me personally, most times without us ever meeting face-to-face. Personal contact sells. As far as the future, I will do this until I die. You just don’t retire.”