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Blacksmith opens forge in Langdon

An art deco table by John Dittmeier

"Fontana's Forge" is an artisan blacksmith's shop of "elegant furniture, furnishings and giftware using traditional forging and modern fabrication." It's also in D.C.

Owner John Dittmeier held his shop/studio's grand opening Oct. 25, where interested people peeked at the blacksmithing process (including a forge which will be turned up to a toasty 2300 degrees) and perused Dittmeier's wares.

Dittmeier learned ironworking in the mid-1970s from Bill Gichner, a blacksmith who some say led the resurgence of blacksmithing in America. Dittmeier also studied in Britain under three blacksmiths and in the museums and libraries of Paris.

But for 20 years his passion remained in storage--literally, with his tools locked away in Alexandria while he focused on his engineering career. (In Florida, he was the planner of the Orlando Beltway. Here, he worked with WMATA for 18 years.) "It was only as I approached retirement did I actively pursue shop space, and the landlords here have welcomed me," he says.

The new space is the former boiler room at Off The Beaten Track, a repurposed warehouse that now provides space for a vintage furniture showroom, a pottery studio, a letterpress card maker and more. Dittmeier says he moved in many months ago, with the other tenants, but it's taken him a while to arrange the 650-square-foot space the way he likes it.

Dittmeier will sell his unique furnishings through the space and a forthcoming Etsy site. He envisions creating D.C.-specific, somewhat whimsical designs, like a glass-topped table inspired by the Metro map.

Dittmeier will also eventually offer classes, "not likely hands-on, but it'll be a fine introduction to the fundamentals of blacksmithing."

(h/t East City Art)

Read more articles by Rachel Kaufman.

Rachel is the managing editor of Elevation D.C. She also covers tech, business and science for publications nationwide. She lives in Brookland.
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