Randy Hodges (more commonly known around the Outer Banks as the Manteo Blacksmith) is an artist, a metalworker, and an engineer.
He was raised around his family's steel fabricating business in Baltimore, MD, and educated as a civil engineer at Vanderbilt University, graduating in 1975. For the next 25 years he pursued an engineering career that took him from repairing bauxite kiln piers in Mandeville, Jamaica, to building some of the tallest buildings inside the Washington beltway.
In 1980, Hodges got his first blacksmith forge and anvil, and took up a serious avocation with blacksmithing. At the turn of the new millenium, his avocation became his profession when he opened the Manteo Blacksmith Shop at Magnolia Market on the downtown Manteo waterfront. In the spring of 2006, Hodges was accepted into the KDH Cooperative and promptly moved his blacksmith forge to the Co-op site in Kill Devil Hills (although the name Manteo Blacksmith never really changed). Currently the shop at the Co-op is supplemented by Randy's studio at his home; and new in 2010, another forge at the Island Farm, a circa 1850's living history museum on Roanoke Island.
Randy's work as an artist-blacksmith has made many progressions over the 30-some years of pounding hot iron. Since ironworking has become his full time pursuit, his projects have included general blacksmithing (primarily utilitarian items and hardware for the household) and metal artwork (with an emphasis on smaller sculptures made from scrap iron and found materials). The third major aspect of his work is teaching beginning blacksmithing; he gives classes in a variety of venues.
As a general blacksmith, Randy Hodges strives to be a "village blacksmith" for the 21st century. As a teacher he has this daydream about being a "Johnny Appleseed" of blacksmithing. As an artist-blacksmith, Randy is inspired by many things, not least of which is the nature of the Outer Banks. But the main agent of his inspiration, in these days that seem to be the dawning of a digital revolution, is a drive to upcycle some of the detritus of last century's industrial revolution. His most favorite materials to work with are old hand tools and iron & steel parts and pieces; he pays tribute to that past revolution as he reshapes these things in the smith's fire to create new art.
Randy's work has been included in such exhibits as the East Carolina Bank headquarters collection, the Knotts Island Elementary School art museum, the 2010 ABANA Conference Gallery, and in the private collections of many folks including Manteo's most recognized resident, Andy Griffith. The gallery at the KDH Cooperative is the home for most of his artwork, and most of his worktime is spent at his forge there. Consequently the Co-op is the key place to go to find him or his work. He is also a member of the Dare County Arts Council, and he has some pieces in their gallery. In addition during the good weather months he participates in art shows at a variety of venues along the Outer Banks. He teaches private blacksmithing lessons at the Co-op and group classes for such organizations as Edgecombe Community College and Pocosin Arts Folk School. The prime source of Randy's training in the art and craft of blacksmithing comes from his 30 year membership in the Artist-Blacksmiths' Association of North America (ABANA).