An old, retired cattle horse and the hope to ride with the cowboys ignited the spark in Will Frary to become a blacksmith as a young boy on his grandparents' cattle ranch, he said. After he learned to shoe his horse at age 11, he said he continued to gain experience by teaching himself how to weld, repair and forge.
Over time, Frary turned his repair skills into a craft and now sells art, such as wrought-iron sculptures and architectural metalwork, at The Blacksmith Shop in Grapevine.
Frary brought his blacksmithing talents to Grapevine's historic district four years ago when he rented the shop, a replica of the early 1900s–era Millican's Blacksmith Shop on Main Street.
Frary said the closest blacksmith shop was several hours away when he was learning his craft in the 1980s.
"I didn't have time or money because I was ranching at the time," Frary said. "It took a couple of years to really learn anything, so I started attending conferences and blacksmithing groups."
Through the years he said he has also built an extensive blacksmithing and metalwork library at his home in Denton.
Frary runs the one-man shop, splitting time between crafting an array of items for sale, making repairs and teaching apprentices to do the same in their own work. Frary offers apprentice lessons that come in a package of four sessions, and he said he is flexible with hours. The sessions last as long as the customer can, Frary said with a laugh.
"Maybe it's only an hour-and-a-half or until they wear me out," Frary said.
One of Frary's apprentices, Gavin Clary, started a business after being under Frary's tutelage, and Clary now sells his own items, such as iron lilies, tools and knives.
"I needed to figure out a way to do what I'm passionate about," Clary said about being a blacksmith. "I wouldn't give it up for anything."
Frary campaigns for recycling and often uses old or leftover materials. Frary said he also trades items with the nearby railroad to get unused spikes.
"I do buy some new stuff, but most of it is old, rusty stuff that nobody wants," Frary said. "I have to pound it into shape anyway."
Frary has done a variety of work, from repairing an Olympic torch used in the 2010 London games to creating several al molcajete dishes, which are used to make guacamole and queso and can be found in each Cristina's Fine Mexican Restaurant location across the North Texas area.
"He does amazing, amazing work. It is a pleasure to work with him," Clary said.
The Blacksmith Shop
707 S. Main St., Grapevine
Hours: Thu.–Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m.