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BELMONT BLACKSMITH TO FILL ARTIST'S SHOES DURING ARTISANS' STUDIO TOUR

Charles Orlando of Belmont says he took up the blacksmith trade years ago when he couldn't find horseshoes anywhere for his daughters' horses.

"I couldn't get horseshoes, so I went to horseshoe school," he recalled.

"Then I started taking courses in blacksmithing."

Nowadays he still shoes horses but much of his "smithy" work has a more artistic bent: He creates decorative railings, candleholders and other pieces from steel.

He'll open his barn-studio outside Belmont off Ackerman Hill Road, off South Street, to guests this weekend, one of 20 artists participating in this year's Allegany Artisans' studio tour Saturday and Sunday in Allegany and Steuben counties.

A retired special education administrator turned professional blacksmith, Orlando said he shoes from 20 to 25 horses, using a gas-powered portable forge he carries in "a shop in one of my trucks."

Blacksmithing is the application of heat and a hammer's force to change a piece of metal into a chosen shape -- whether it's a horseshoe, a fireplace screen or a wall hanging.

Orlando fashions decorative implements and gates from steel, "mostly on commission," he said. He'll have a few pieces on hand to show his guests, including some samples of railing, candle holders, fireplace tools and the like. He also said he will show people "what it takes to change the shape of metal and why it's expensive."

"All craft is expensive, compared to production line" goods, he said.

A double candleholder is priced at $90, and a single for $40 or $45.

Orlando said he creates works on demand for clients. He has recently completed railing jobs for churches in Belmont, Wellsville and Olean, for the Howe Library in Wellsville and for others. He has customers from as far away as Minnesota and Maine and a pending order for a church in North Carolina, where he teaches a couple weeks a year at the John C. Campbell Craft School in Brasstown.

Orlando's wife Betsy's Santa Claus studio is also part of the weekend tour.

Other sites are:

Wellsville: H.M. Bateman and Jim Horn, 150 Rauber St., jewelry pins, mirrors, angels, candleholders; Peter Midgley, Niles Hill Road, functional ceramic pieces and structural vessels.

Andover: Karen Tufty-Wisniewski, 47 S. Main St., terra cotta bake ware; Mary Lu Wells, 4981 McAndrews Road, stoneware and ceramic pots; Stephen Walker, 1 S. Main St., jewelry and holloware; also displayed in Walker's studio will be the ceramic mirrors, jewelry and wall pieces of Hanna Juekoff of Rexville.

Belmont: Kay Brooks Pottery, Route 19 south of Belmont, hand-thrown, high-fired pottery.

Alfred: Robin Caster, ceramic tableware; Karen Gringhuis, high-fired functional porcelain pottery; Samantha Hennecke, functional and decorative porcelain pottery, all in the Ceramics Corridor building on Route 244.

Also in the Alfred area: Bruce Greene, 588 Main St., Alfred Station, functional wheel-thrown table stoneware; Dick Lang, 5206 Kenyon Road, Alfred Station, art pottery, lamps, functional items; Joan Nye, 77 Pine Hill Drive, Alfred, earrings, pins and pendants in colored porcelain; Peter Nye, 77 Pine Hill Drive, stoneware and porcelain ceramic ware; Nanako Yatani, 10 Green St., Alfred, wheel-thrown and high-fired stoneware pots.

North Hornell: Alfred L. Chapman, 380 Cleveland Ave., native and exotic wooden bowls, platters, canes, sculptural and architectural turnings.

Whitesville: Ken Reichman, Main Street, hand-sculptured candles, hand-dipped tapers and candles that glow when burned; Michael and Marsha VanVlack, 678 Spring Mills Road, floral-painted porcelain and clay sculpture.

Friendship: Brian Gray, North Branch Road, paintings, landscapes in oil and pastels as well as moths and butterflies.

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