Everest Gromoll is a high school senior who taught himself to blacksmith. Everest and his friend and fellow student blacksmith, Owen McGunnigle, first exhibited at the 2015 NoVa Mini Maker Faire. They will return again this year to demonstrate both modern and historical metal working techniques using traditional tools and methods, including forging with a coal forge and anvil. They will make simple tools, household items, and ornamental ironwork.
As a young child, Everest was fascinated with antiques and old things, particularly those made of metal. He thought “How cool would it be if I could create something that would be around long after me.” He took this interest a little further than your typical child – he taught himself how to blacksmith by watching a lot of YouTube videos.
After a lot of convincing and assurances to his parents, he created his first forge using a pot and pan when he was in 8th grade. This was the beginning of a long relationship with blacksmithing. The first thing he made was a small knife. He still makes knives and blades, in addition to ornamental work like flowers and leaves, potholders and jewelry.
Over the years he’s created 4 forges, the most recent one using an old lawnmower and a brake drum. The previous one was a holed-out wheelbarrow with a hairdryer attached as an air source.
Everest and Owen are both members of the Blacksmith Guild of the Potomac, helping to further their skills. Last year Everest began to experiment with Damascus steel. The knife to the left is an example. Damascus steel is a pattern created by many layers of two or more types of steel with differing chemical compositions. Everest uses steel composed of primarily iron and carbon layered with steel made up of iron, carbon, and a little bit of nickel. The two steels are stacked in alternating layers and welded into one piece. Once the steel is polished, he puts it in a ferric chloride bath which oxidizes the layers without nickel more quickly, creating the distinctive pattern.
Everest’s interest in blacksmithing has definitely had an influence in his future. He hopes to study history and/or archeology in college. He feels that his work with blacksmithing influenced his acceptance to the University of St Andrews in Scotland. He admires the Northern European methods, especially the Celtic and Nordic.
Come see Everest and Owen at this year’s NoVa Mini Maker Faire on March 13, 2016, sponsored by Nova Labs