When you come to Tuckerton Seaport, folk art is all around you- you can hear the wood sing as the carver cuts off pieces with his drawknife, smell the cedar in the Boatworks as you see the boatbuilder sanding the sneakboxes, and feel the wool or fabric as you see the fiber artists needle felting and quilting. This spring we will add a new art form to appeal to your senses- blacksmithing! Once you walk out of the Visitor’s Center and approach the boardwalk, you’ll see our new blacksmith shop where you can feel the heat of the forge, hear the metal striking iron, and see useful pieces being forged out of fire and metal.
The art of blacksmithing is not new to Tuckerton- there have been blacksmith shops in our town for over 100 years. The 1895 Sanborn map of our town shows a blacksmith shop on the lake that is across the street from the Seaport. Blacksmiths were an important part of the community, and their work was used in the community in many ways.
Little Egg Harbor resident Stephen Nuttall is working with us here at the Seaport to open up a blacksmith shop here on the site, right behind Parker’s Decoy Shop. This fulfills a dream we’ve had for many years and will add to the story we tell of how people lived and worked on the Barnegat Bay and Pinelands. In addition, it fulfills our goal of preserving traditional arts through the Jersey Shore Folklife Center. Once the shop is up and running, visitors will be able to see the iron being pounded, and even get a chance to work themselves through classes here at the Museum.
Stephen has a Folk Arts Apprenticeship grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, working with Master Blacksmith Toby Kroll. Toby is the blacksmith at Batsto and is a third generation blacksmith and farrier.
As Stephen states, “Our blacksmith shop will serve as an example of folk art that is important to our history. Not only is it important to keep traditional folk arts alive through exhibitions, it is important to encourage others to continue this tradition. By adding a blacksmith shop on its grounds the Tuckerton Seaport could reach out and encourage a new audience to visit and learn.”