why this work?

“I loved the possibilities that locks and keys presented. There was no end to their variety, and there was room for both mechanical intricacy and artistic expression. The only limitation was my imagination.”

locked doors, found keys

I love the pathos of handmade objects, especially pre-industrial locks & keys. Some are stunning achievements, and others are amusing work-arounds by people scrambling to finish the job. And why do these old locks have beautiful details that serve no practical purpose? That’s one of my favorite questions.

Locks are partly warnings and symbols: don’t mess with this complicated, heavy object because you’ll lose–or if you win this time, I have the means to get a bigger lock. I’ve spent a lot of time in my shop reflecting on our illusions of security. Property is a serious topic in our culture, and I crave frivolity and whatnot. Are we able to enjoy what we have?

I’m a smith who makes locks, but I’m not a locksmith in the modern sense. People like my locks as mechanical sculptures or to express their love for a personal treasure by locking it up with something special. I often say that my locks are good for keeping the toddlers out of the whisky.

One of my career dreams as a kid was to build pipe organs. It was a more realistic option than, say, banking, because my cognitive mind struggled with puzzles like subtracting 7 from 9. Early Baroque organ music opened a beautiful space in my imagination, so it’s both strange and wonderful that I now make locks and keys in an old organ factory. My full story has a lot of echoes like that. I hope it’s encouraging to anybody who has had to be crafty with work-arounds.

inspiration and community

A mentor once told me that blacksmithing was the most useful ancillary craft to woodworking, stone construction, and many other trades because blacksmiths can make their own hand tools. It was just what I needed to hear. These are a few of the teachers, students, and colleagues who have inspired me through the years. There are many others, and I salute them!


Bill Gichner
Morrell Metalsmiths
Peter Ross
Tom Latane
Kim Thomas
Thomas Boucher


Lock Museum of America
Artist-Blacksmith's Association of America