PETER HAPPNY BLACKSMITH
The Man, The Smith, The Legend
Peter Happny Blacksmith has been in business for forty nine years, working in many different architectural styles including colonial, art nouveau, gothic revival, arts and crafts, art deco, and contemporary iron work. He also designs and executes sculptures for specific jobs and locations. Peter has taught and demonstrated for blacksmithing groups in the United States and abroad. His work is published in multiple books about wrought iron sculpture. He continues his work in Portsmouth, trying to make ironwork more meaningful to the twenty-first century.
PETER HAPPNY, A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY
Five Decades of Blacksmithing
In 1971 while studying at the University of New Hampshire I was enrolled in a course on Early American Architecture. I answered a few questions incorrectly on the final exam that was related to early Portsmouth architecture. Convinced my professor was wrong, I visited the Wentworth Gardner House in Portsmouth in order to prove my point. After seeing the house and realizing my professor was indeed correct, I decided maybe I should find a job and learn a few more things. I stopped into Strawbery Banke, a local historical museum site, to inquire about a boatbuilding job. Turns out they needed a blacksmith instead. I may have misrepresented my knowledge of blacksmithing, but I convinced them, found a smith to learn from as I caught the bug and ended up running the blacksmith shop there for the next seven years before purchasing the building I now work in. Over thirty years later, I was installing a railing in front of the Wentworth Gardner House. I drilled multiple holes into granite for two days with equipment that seemed to have been around as long as when I had first visited Portsmouth. While sweating in the summer heat and drilling too many holes, I had an epiphany. If I had not ever visited the Wentworth Gardner House I would not have had to drill so many holes. Moreover, I would not have pursued a career in blacksmithing. At this point I have been in the blacksmithing business for forty nine years and counting. I find one of the advantages of being self-taught is that it takes less time to figure out how I solved the problems the last time I produced a similar piece.
CONTACT THE BLACKSMITH
66 Rock St Portsmouth NH United States 03801
“Over the years, doing public stuff, you have to ask yourself, ‘How many drunk teenagers can you put on it at once?’ That is my test for enduring public art."