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Meet Handcrafted America’s Artisan Sean Ahern, Ahern’s Anvil

Sean Ahern, Ahern’s Anvil

Born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina, Sean Ahern was surrounded by plenty of inspiration to fuel his creative talents. As a young boy, he was fascinated by found objects and spent much of his time drawing what caught his eye.

As a student at the Atlanta College of Art, his interest shifted from the two-dimensional to the three. He started working in bronze and iron, incorporating natural shapes and organic movement into his work. After graduation, he apprenticed with local artists then headed to France to study at L’École des Beaux-Arts in Saint Etienne.

In 2001, missing the ocean and the Lowcountry, he returned to Charleston. The following year, he opened Ahern’s Anvil and began producing functional objects and ornamental ironwork. From unique to traditional, his original designs connect architecture to the environment. He draws his inspiration from the Lowcountry landscape: the marsh grass, Spanish moss and the stunning ironwork that is integral to many of the surrounding homes and architecture.

Meet Sean…

What drew you to your chosen craft?

I was learning about the 3 dimensional world and someone showed me how to weld and it was just natural for me.

What do you enjoy most about your craft?

I enjoy every single bit of it; from design, engineering, forging, fabrication, finishing all the way up to installation. It is very gratifying to see the final piece/project installed from the very beginning which was just an idea or a pencil mark.

Why is it important for people to make things with their own hands?

In the history of mankind, there are no items that have been more appreciated, nor have had the longevity than a handmade item. Building something with your hands gives the product life.

In what ways are handmade goods better than those that are mass produced?

In addition to the answer above, handmade products give the piece life from the artist/craftsman. Machines don’t have this; they just produce. A handmade product should show the artist’s/craftsman’s hands and care, which give the piece life and soul. Mass-production is just machines pumping out what they are told to do with material you just feed them. An artist/craftsman hand picks/designs work for that individual piece and details it for that individual project.

What does the future hold for your type of work?

This is a super tricky answer here. We live in a VERY interesting Capitalism type of world here in the States right now. I believe in my blacksmithing/metalworking community and I feel it is running strong with our craft. I just hope that the one day the normal day-to-day people/mass-production-big-box buyer, world/consumers someday recognize that if you go the extra mile in the first place, you end up with a product that you will enjoy and it will last a lifetime, instead of the completely opposite and end up broken or in the trash. Like I said, very tricky question to answer…..

 


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