The fires are burning and the anvils ringing in the blacksmith shop at the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum throughout the summer. Blacksmiths are building sculptural bike racks that will be donated to local Erie Canal communities as part of a “Blacksmiths and Bicycles” project.
“Blacksmiths and Bicycles” is a project between artist blacksmiths and local communities. “We asked local communities, Erie Canalway Trail cyclists, and visitors to the Erie Canal to tell us what the Erie Canal means to them and to draw pictures of things that remind them of the canal” says Mark Teece, the artist blacksmith who is leading this community art project. Then red-hot iron is bent, twisted, and hammered into these designs using centuries old technology with modern designs to produce beautiful public artwork that you can also lock your bike to! These intricate sculptures promote cycling along the Erie Canalway Trail and also encourage cyclists to pause for a while in canalside communities.
The designs range from canal boats and Sal, the friendly mule, to fish and birds found along the canal to sculptures submitted by local artists. “Building these modern bike racks in a canal-era working blacksmith shop alongside the Erie Canal with the familiar smells of burning coal fires and the sound of hammers on iron is a wonderful experience” explains Mark Teece.
The project is funded by a grant from CNY Arts and sponsored by Chittenango Landing and the Erie Canal communities of Oneida, Canastota, and Chittenango.
You can find Mike Allen, the resident blacksmith, working every Thursday in the blacksmith shop at Chittenango Landing throughout the summer. During September blacksmiths will be working on these bike racks and they are always looking for more designs that can be shared with them on their Facebook or Instagram pages (@blacksmithsandbicycles).
You can find out more about this project and see more photos of their work at www.BlacksmithsAndBicycles.com and @blacksmithsandbicycles.