Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 6, 2014

Blacksmith forges a new life

VALDOSTA — “I would watch this whole thing going on, and I was really amazed how you could make metal hot and then twist it,” said Daniel De Cristofaro, a new Valdosta resident and an experienced blacksmith.

Originally from East Hampton, N.Y., De Cristofaro and his wife were living in Florida when they decided to move to Valdosta to escape the heat of the Sunshine State. The couple arrived the first of September and quickly set up shop.

“From the moment we arrived in Valdosta, we loved the place to death,” said De Cristofaro. “The people were so nice and so helpful, and I don’t think a day has gone by that someone doesn’t do something nice for me.”

De Cristofaro said Valdosta reminds him of his home and growing up in the 1950s and ’60s when he was first introduced to the art of metalworking.

“My dad was a fisherman, and during the winter months, the fishermen would get ready for spring,” said De Cristofaro. “He would take his tools to Paul Noslick. He worked right on the water where all the ships came in.”

Noslick was the blacksmith in Greenport on Long Island, and De Cristofaro would stand in amazement at what Noslick could do with metal. De Cristofaro would later get involved with wood carving, but metal work returned to his life when he discovered that the wood-carving tools he wanted to use were not available.

“When I started carving, I couldn’t find certain knives and gouges. Those that were available weren’t really what I wanted,” said De Cristofaro. “So, I started to buy pieces of steel and make my own gouges. Then, I bought my own anvil, and that’s how I got started.”

Though it would always remain a passion, De Cristofaro left woodworking for a time and started learning the blacksmith trade from Noslick, a mentor who reappeared later in his life in an unusual way.

“When I was 35, I was invited to a blacksmith show in Greenport,” said De Cristofaro.

What he did not know was that the show was a benefit to save the building that housed Noslick’s original shop. When he arrived, he found himself in a familiar place.

“I was there at his anvil doing what I used to watch him do,” said De Cristofaro.

His blacksmith career took off from there, including making custom items like candelabras and chandeliers for celebrities.

“I’ve done things for Martha Stewart, Billy Joel, Lauren Bacall and quite a few movie stars. It was quite fun,” said De Cristofaro.

At his Valdosta workshop off Highway 41 near Newsome Road, De Cristofaro focuses on restoration, repair projects and novelty items. One of his favorite items to make is an old-fashioned item called a courting candle.

“It’s a candle stand fashioned like a spring that has been stretched out with a dowel that fits inside the spring,” said De Cristofaro. “So, when you were going to date a lady, her father would adjust the height of the candle to determine how long he wanted you to stay. If he liked you, he might give you an hour or so. If he didn’t, he might give you one or two little twists.”

De Cristofaro makes several similarly unique items like specially designed candle holders for pumpkin lanterns, corn huskers and even knives and art from railroad spikes. He refurbishes knives, and he can even take old car bumpers and turn them into something new.

“I pick something old and rusty, and by the time I’m done, it’s bright and shiny and ready to use,” said De Cristofaro.

De Cristofaro’s motivation comes from an appreciation of the past and an understanding that mass-produced items may not offer what the customer needs.

“The old technology and the quality seems to have disappeared. I’m more in the 1800s era,” said De Cristofaro. “A lot of time, what happens with manufactured items, you are going to get just one or two sizes, large or small, but with older pieces everything is a little different.”

A customer recently brought him a hay rake he said was about 150 to 200 years old, but it was missing the wooden handle. Store handles would not fit, so De Cristofaro researched rakes from that time period, made some measurements and fashioned a handle that restored the piece.

“I do a lot of restoration work,” said De Cristofaro. “I had a guy with a cast-iron stove with a leg missing, so I made a leg for it to match as best I could.”

De Cristofaro’s fascination with metal work and his mastery with the art is not the only interesting thing about him. He has worked as a butcher for years and has been processing game with his hand-made knives this hunting season. He has carved award-winning wood pieces of waterfowl. He even sings and plays the guitar.

He can be reached at (321) 216-1137 for custom pieces and restoration work or to simply welcome Valdosta’s latest Renaissance man to town.

“The people here in Valdosta are really fine folks,” said De Cristofaro. “I don’t think we could have found a better spot.”

Text Only
Local News
  • 140417-Rail_Plan-001.jpg State Transportation seeks public input on rail plan

    The Georgia Department of Transportation held public meetings across the state this week to discuss its 2014 Georgia State Rail Plan.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140417-valdosta_appr#10C8BA.jpg Officials serve lunch to city employees

    The City of Valdosta hosted its annual employee appreciation luncheon Thursday at John W. Saunders Memorial Park.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140417-Wiregrass003.jpg Wiregrass learns through play

    For three years, Wiregrass Georgia Technical College has hosted its Wired Up! event to engage students, faculty and staff in a fun but educational activity day.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • rain.jpg More spills? Valdosta braces for more rain

    In the past four weeks, Valdosta has experienced four major rain events that dumped more than three to four inches of rain on the area per incident.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140117-Scott_SGMAC-001.jpg Moody in running for Afghan pilot mission

    Moody Air Force Base is one of three military bases being considered for a temporary mission to train Afghan pilots next year, Rep. Austin Scott told the South Georgia Military Affairs Council Thursday.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • City: Most overflows stopped

    The City of Valdosta reported Wednesday evening that all manhole overflows resulting from Tuesday’s heavy rains had stopped, with the exception of two.

    April 17, 2014

  • 140416-gov_deal002.jpg Signed into law

    Gov. Nathan Deal went on a signing tour Wednesday across Georgia, flying into the Valdosta Regional Airport to sign three bills into law.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 2 charged in N.C. kidnapping

    Two more people were charged in the kidnapping of a North Carolina prosecutor’s father, bringing the number to at least eight people who authorities say were involved in the elaborate plot.

    April 17, 2014

  • VSU opens spring senior art show Saturday

    Several graduating art seniors will present their show this weekend at Valdosta State University.

    April 17, 2014

  • 140415-water003.jpg Sewage problems persist

    Early Tuesday morning, Valdosta became saturated when the area received approximately three inches of rain from 4 a.m. to noon. As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, 11 manholes throughout the City of Valdosta have spilled 286,500 gallons of wastewater into local waterways, and this number will continue to rise.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

Top News

What you think about school and workplace rules about Facebook friends?

There have to be rules.
No need for rules, just use common sense.
If people want to be friends, what is the big deal?
Nobody uses Facebook anymore.
     View Results