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An Eye for Art: Westminster blacksmith is an artist with an eye for American history

An Eye for Art: Westminster blacksmith is an artist with an eye for American history

Reb Staup is a local blacksmith, woodworker and T-shirt designer living in Westminster.

When Staup was young he liked to draw.

“I was always interested in some type of art,” Staup said.

He started blacksmithing in 2004, when he took classes from the nonprofit Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland, Inc. He helped at the historic forge at the Carroll County Farm Museum. He was also the blacksmith for 16 years at Union Mills Homestead.

Reb Staup is pictured with his wooden and iron crafts at the Carroll County Arts Council Gallery of Gifts. (Lyndi McNulty photo)
Reb Staup is pictured with his wooden and iron crafts at the Carroll County Arts Council Gallery of Gifts. (Lyndi McNulty photo)

Staup started participating in Civil War reenacting in 2000. When he learned to be a blacksmith, Staup made a lot of items for reenactors. He made fire grates, tripods and anything utilitarian. He also made forks, spoons and items for camp life.

In 2005, Staup began to do colonial reenacting as a blacksmith and pirate. He did the Blackbeard Pirate Festival in Hampton, Virginia. Staup also did woodworking there. The festival featured the living history of Blackbeard and the pirates.

Staup sells his handmade items at 25 shows a year. He participates in most of the Westminster downtown shows and Carroll County Farmers Market.

In 2023, he did the Mistletoe Mart at the Church of the Ascension in Westminster. He sells his work at the Union Mills Homestead Shows as well.

Staup began to do woodworking in 2015. He is self-taught and used YouTube to learn. He is a member of the Mid-Maryland Wood Turners Club in Frederick.

Carved pig by Reb Staup. (Lyndi McNulty photo)
Carved pig by Reb Staup. (Lyndi McNulty photo)

He turns wooden bowls on a lathe. He also makes pigs, rolling pins, and cutting boards. He both power carves and hand carves spoons and bowls.

When he is demonstrating at Union Mills, Staup explains the history of woodworking to the visitors. He tells them that in a rural community, the bowls and utensils were made of wood. Pottery was not cheap. Metal definitely was not cheap.

A farmer often made his own utensils. They always had a woodpile because that is how they cooked and heated their homes.

Staup also does print on demand T-shirts. Since he has back problems he cannot work as long on blacksmithing and woodworking as he would like. When his back hurts he designs T-shirts and sells them on Etsy.

Reb Staup is pictured with a handmade wooden bowl and a hand forged steel rose. (Lyndi McNulty photo)
Reb Staup is pictured with a handmade wooden bowl and a hand forged steel rose. (Lyndi McNulty photo)

Staup does a lot of patriotic and military designs.

“I like taking raw material, change it and create something useful,” Staup said. “I can find a piece of metal that was thrown away on the ground and give it a new life that can be used for years and years. Blacksmiths were the original recyclers.

“I get logs and cut them down to make something I want. The last batch of pigs I made were made of driftwood that washed up on a beach and now they are sitting in someone’s house.”

Staup does small commissions.

He is a member of the Carroll County Arts Council and is a vendor at their event Art in the Park held every June in Westminster.

Staup has his woodwork and blacksmith items for sale at Offtrack Art Co-operative and Gallery in Westminster. He also sold his art at the Gallery of Gifts at the Carroll County Arts Council.

He plans to do the Catoctin Colorfest in Thurmont next year and the Maryland Home and Garden Show and Craft Show in Timonium.

His business is named Homestead Forge N’ Wood. He can be found on online sites including Facebook, Instagram, Etsy and eBay.

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.

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