Blacksmithing is again forging a place in Klamath Basin activities and culture.
At least two Klamath Basin blacksmiths are practicing their skills as a demonstration of living history, but they go beyond an educational function with their hobby to make iron and steel items that serve as practical tools as well as art.
Richard Rambo and Gina Janelli both went into blacksmithing after working for years in other skills or artistic efforts. Rambo had been a zealous stained glass artisan, making so much of it and giving to everyone as gifts that he was encouraged to take up something else.
“I got the word from my friends and relations ‘no more stained glass,’” Rambo said, prompting him to diversify that art by adding wrought iron to his work.
The combination of learning the many blacksmithing processes needed to make an iron fence and learning that a great-grandfather had been a blacksmith on the historic D Ranch near Dorris in the 1880s helped launch Rambo into his new hobby. Improving his skills, he joined the Cascade Civil War Society (CCWS) to do demonstrations for area students with the group at local living history events such as the Lava Beds National Monument Timeline and Heritage Days at the Fort Klamath Museum.
Janelli wanted a change of pace from her previous pursuits when she became interested in the ancient trade that Rambo traces back 5,000 years ago to the Fertile Crescent near Turkey.
“After years of nursing and photography, I just wanted to bang around on steel,” Janelli said.
When she expressed an interest in learning the skill, she took and passed all the tests given to her by the blacksmith at Olene Machines, showing she could perform all the tasks involved.
As a longstanding reenactor of Army and civilian impressions with the CCWS as well as a mountain man persona, Janelli soon brought her new blacksmith role to local…