Muskogee, OK In a small self-built shop outside his home,
Cherokee Nation citizen Brendan Crotty turns a hand-crank blower
as flames swell in his coal-fired forge. He then places iron in
the fire. Not an odd sight to see a blacksmith do such acts. However,
Crotty is no ordinary blacksmith. He's only 14.
Nation citizen Brendan Crotty is a 14-year-old blacksmith
from Muskogee, Oklahoma, who has been working the trade for
about three years.
Nation citizen Brendan Crotty turns a hand-crank blower to
induce flames within his coal-fired forge at his blacksmith
shop in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
It was after watching blacksmith re-enactments at age 10 that
the craft sparked a fire in him.
"I saw some of the stuff they were making, and I thought it
was really cool. They were making cookware and knives and all kinds
of stuff, so I though it would be fun to try it," he said. "I started
when I was almost 11. And the first thing I made was a little letter
opener out of a horseshoe, and made it in my first blacksmith meeting,
and I melted it in half the first time I ever tried to make anything."
Other blacksmiths told Crotty of the Saltfork Craftsmen Artist-Blacksmith
Association in which he could learn more about the craft. So he
joined and now attends as many meetings as possible.
"They get together and they make stuff
teach each other
and learn as much as they can," he said. "They
just took me right in and said 'here, go make something.' So I went
and did, and from there I went to every meeting and made as much
as I could and it just took off from there."
Crotty said he makes tomahawks, slingshots and artistic items
because he likes creating various items instead of just one thing.
He focuses on every aspect of the art that he can, he said,
even the history and equipment used hundreds of years ago. He said
learning the history came little later after realizing what equipment
"Finding all the old equipment, that's my favorite part. I love
restoring and rebuilding old pieces of history. I'll find something
in a scrap yard. I'll take it home and completely re-build it and
bring it back to life, and then I get to use that equipment. It's
as good as new. I can use it and it functions," he said.
Crotty holds a knife he made from a horseshoe. The 14-year-old
has been blacksmithing for about three years.
Crotty made these soldiers and anvil and hammer using his
two soup cans are model propane forges Cherokee Nation citizen
Brendan Crotty made to illustrate what insulation materials
worked best to hold in heat, as well as which was more cost
effective. The larger forge on the right is pat of a science
project. The traveling forge on the left is one Crotty made
from repurposed parts.
The trade led him to also develop a science project that evaluated
insulation materials within a propane forge. He competed in the
Broadcom Awards, a national competition among middle-school aged
students related to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics
or STEM sectors.
"I got nominated to enter into a national science fair competition
called Broadcom Masters. I sent in the application where I had to
win a state science fair. I had to get a first place. Once I got
the first place, I had to send in the application. I got to be one
of three semifinalists ever from Oklahoma," he said.
From there, 30 students traveled to Washington, D.C., to compete
in five days of competition. Crotty was the first Oklahoman to be
included in the national competition.
For the week he and others were divided into six teams in which
they competed in team-building activities and visited sites, including
the White House and Georgetown School of Medicine.
"In the competition I did very well. I ended up getting first
I got $3,500 towards any STEM-related summer
camp of my choice and every contestant got $500 cash. I'm going
to use that to buy a door for my shop," he said.
Crotty said he hopes the blacksmithing trade continues to open
doors for him and that in the future he wants to work in the engineering
field where he'll not only design, but build.
"So hopefully a lot of metal fabrication along with the design,"
he said. "Currently, I'm all small blacksmithing, but I plan to
do more modern technology, welding machining and grow a little bigger
with vast knowledge."
Crotty said he doesn't know where he would like to attend college,
but he's considering the Navel Academy because of its engineering
programs and shipbuilding.