Philip Simmons Artist Blacksmith Guild
The Philip Simmons Artist Blacksmith Guild started out in 1994 as the South Carolina Artist Blacksmith Association with about 30 charter members. Robert Walter Hill III was the President, Gerald Alsbrook, Vice-President, and David Dwyer, Secretary / Treasurer. Two more smiths have served as vice-president with one, Barry Myers serving for nine years then ascending to (and still serving as) president in 2004.
Bob Hill is friends with Philip Simmons. Mr. Simmons mentored and guided the organization and leant credibility to the organization through his fame. Mr. Simmons demonstrated at monthly meetings several times in the early days when he was still working. The last known article forged by Mr. Simmons to the author was a horseshoe door knocker presented for auction at David Dwyer's in February 2000. He wanted to forge something in the new century.
SCABA Evolves & Changes Name to Honor Mr. Simmons
We changed the name of SCABA to the Philip Simmons Artist Blacksmith Guild of South Carolina in August, 1998 at the suggestion of Charter member John Rooney Floyd. Rooney, who said that we should do it to honor Mr. Simmons while he was still living. He could add this honor to his many honors, perhaps most notably being recognized as a National Living Treasure by the Smithsonian Museum. In 2007, we dropped the "of South Carolina" when the franchise thing appeared not to be catching on.
Philip Simmons Artist Blacksmith Guild Today
We have grown to about 140 or so members. We offer three week-long scholarships and one weekend scholarship to members with longevity of at least one year. These scholarships are funded by the bi-monthly meeting iron-in-the-hat moneys donated by our generous members. We have added a Board of Directors to assist the President and Vice-President in command decisions that seldom arise.
Our meetings are bimonthly with demonstrators ranging from Mr. Simmons and Lonnie Stafford to Jerry Darnell and Tal Harris to Sheldon Browder and Peter Ross. We have been instructed by Chuck Patrick, Ivan Boggs, Jason Knight and Dan Tull along with many of our own members. We have educated ourselves along with members of the public.
Through the hard work of our members, we continue to grow.
Membership and Information
Additionally, announcements, event info, membership application, and the newsletter are all available online at: Philip Simmons Artist Blacksmith Guild
Phililp Simmons Gate Dedication
Background On Phililp Simmons
Philip Simmons (1912 - )
Biography Profession: Blacksmith
"Philip Simmons is a poet of ironwork. His ability
to endow raw iron with pure lyricism is known
and admired throughout, not only in South Carolina,
but as evidenced by his many honors and awards,
he is recognized in all of America."
John Paul Huguley,
Founder, School of the Building Arts
Now The American College of the Building Arts
Born June 9, 1912, in Wando on Daniel Island,
near Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, where he
was reared by his grandparents. At age 8, he
was sent to Charleston (via the ferry), to live
with his mother on Vernon Street and enroll in
the first class at Buist School.
At the time, the school on Daniel Island offered
limited education because it was an agriculture
and fishing community. It was open for only
three months and teachers were difficult to keep.
While walking to and from school young Philip
noticed the ironwork and became intrigued with
it. The neighborhood was a Mecca for craftsmen
who serviced the waterfront businesses. He
began visiting the blacksmith shops, pipefitters,
shipwrights, coppers, and other craftsmen in
the area. However, the sounds of the blacksmith
shops interested him the most.
Philip Simmons, now the most celebrated
of Charleston ironworkers, received his most
important education from local blacksmith
Peter Simmons, who ran a busy shop at the
foot of Calhoun Street. Here Philip Simmons
acquired the values and refined the talents
that would sustain him throughout his long
Moving into the specialized fields of ornamental
iron in 1938, Simmons fashioned more than
five hundred decorative pieces of ornamental
Gates, Fences, Balconies, and Window Grills.
The city of Charleston from end to end is truly
decorated by his hand.
In 1982, the National Endowment for the Arts
awarded him its National Heritage Fellowship,
the highest honor that the United States can
bestow on a traditional artist. This recognition
was followed by a similar award from the South
Carolina state legislature for "lifetime achievement"
and commissions for public sculptures by the
South Carolina State Museum and the City of
Charleston. Simmons was inducted into the
South Carolina Hall of Fame in Myrtle Beach, SC
on January 31, 1994.
His latest honor "The Order of the Palmetto", South
Carolina's highest award, was presented to him on
August 11, 1998 by Governor David Beasley.
Pieces of his work have been acquired by the
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian
Institution; the Museum of International Folk Art in
Santa Fe, NM; the Richland County Public Library,
Columbia, SC, and the Atlanta History Center,
Atlanta, GA. In 1989, the vestry and congregation
of his church (St. John's Reformed Episcopal
Church, 91 Anson Street in downtown Charleston),
dedicated the grounds of the church to develop a
commemorative landscaped garden as a tribute
to his exceptional mastery of wrought iron and in
recognition of his inspirational character and self
Philip Simmons is 95 years old at the writing of this
piece. He spent most of his time (until a recent
stroke) greeting the tourist who visit his shop and
having Q&A sessions with the students and
organizations he visited around the state. In the
near future, you will be able to see new crafted
works from his shop by his apprentices, Carlton
Simmons (nephew) and Joseph "Ronnie" Pringle
(cousin), or by other blacksmiths in the area under
These works can be seen on Daniel Island,
the Governor's Mansion and the Matthew J.
Perry Federal Courthouse in Columbia, Liberty
Square, the Charleston Visitor Center, and in
the main corridor of the Charleston International
Mr. Simmons is a widow and had three children
(one daughter is deceased). He lived on the
eastside of Charleston since arriving in 1919.
He is and has always been a kind and gentle
human being who is willing to share his experiences
and wisdom with anyone he meets. A professional,
whose work has been his only advertisement,
continues to promote excellence and pride in
ones work to the youth and other professionals
around the country.
John Michael Vlach and the Philip Simmons Foundation
Hammer's Blow CD Offer Extended!
The current ABANA Membership Drive offer, only until
March 31, while the supply lasts!
If you have let your ABANA membership lapse and
not renewed, now would be a great to do it.
ABANA is offering for mail in "New" or expired
"Renewals" and for mail in "Gift" memberships the
CD of Hammer's Blow, Volume 8, No. 2 through
Volume 14, No. 2.
That's Twenty-Six issues of the Hammer's Blow!
And, by joining now you won't miss a single issue
in 2008 of the Anvil's Ring or the Hammer's Blow!
Join Now and help keep Blacksmithing a healthy and