George F. Ainslie
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I began blacksmithing in 1977 working under Master Blacksmith Elmer Seybold in Mineral Wells Texas. Mr. Seybold was in his 70ís at the time and had been making Kentucky rifles since the 1930ís completely from scratch. He forged all the rifle parts, and made all his own tools including the rifling bench. He also forged tomahawks, axes, bits and spurs, and while he was resting made fine silver mounted saddles etc. I learned a lot about techniques and quality workmanship from Mr. Seybold. Later I worked with Fred Fields in East Helena, Montana. These gentlemen served as my direct link to ironworking methods developed over the past millennium.
In 1979, armed with a B.A. in history from Rocky Mountain College, ((Billings, Montana) I went to work as a blacksmith the Grant Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Deer Lodge, Montana. I spent three years working part time reproducing artifacts from the Frontier cattle industry for use in ranch living history programs. From there the Park Service transferred me to Bentís Old Fort National Historic Site near La Junta Colorado, where I spent three full years in the blacksmith shop making hardware for the Fort and itís Conestoga Wagon, beaver traps for the trade room and everything else from knives and axes to flint strikers and kitchen equipment for use in the Fortís living History program
I started my own business: Prairie Elk Forge, in 1985, producing quality historic reproductions for re-enactors as my familyís sole source of income. My experience with Mr. Seybold and Fred Fields taught me that my survival depended on my clients not only being satisfied, but exuberant about my work. That requirement sets the tone for all the work that leaves my shop, proudly stamped with my touch mark.
In 1989 I produced over 4000 pieces of ironwork for Fort Union National Historic Site near Williston North Dakota. I worked with historic architects and archaeological examples unearthed at the site to reproduce accurate copies of hardware, weathervanes and beaver traps that are used and displayed at the fort.
Work on numerous private homes and National Parks, most notably Yellowstone, where I have spent a portion of each of the past 20 years working on the restoration of Old Faithful Inn; pulled me away from my first love of frontier ironwork from the 18th and 19th centuries. I am happy to re-enter this branch of the trade armed with twenty more years of experience than when I left.
All work is guaranteed, custom orders are welcome.
G. F. Ainslie
Contact George F. Ainslie at:
202 First Avenue East
PO Box 234
Lavina, MT 59046
phone number: 406-636-2391
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