Fetty is building a one-bedroom, one-story home next to his workshop. His old workshop was next to his house, and he realized that when he built his dream studio high atop the mountain ridge, he was spending more and more time away from that home. Colorful Adirondack chairs sit in a row outside the workshop, overlooking the town of Spencer, where Fetty grew up. He points to the hospital where his wife works as a nurse. He can see where they dated, where they lived.
"My life is my work, my work is my life," he said.
Fetty is emotional when he talks of his wife, his two sons and his grandchildren. His pride is evident as he tells stories of his sons' accomplishments.
"Charlotte and I have been married for 39 years this year -- we were married at 19. I barely finished high school. And look at my sons," he said, with a catch in his voice.
Jacob, 33, was a professional cyclist, and he's ridden with Lance Armstrong and other pros all over the world. He now works for the city of Spencer in community development. Nathan, 35, is a lawyer in Buckhannon and will be teaching at the West Virginia University College of Law this fall.
A voracious reader, Fetty has written many articles for blacksmith magazines. He loves photography as well.
Fetty has taken many pilgrimages to Mexico to observe and to work with local blacksmiths. He's asked that, upon his death, a portion of his ashes be scattered there. "It's a place where I truly feel at home. The men there say that my work is superior to theirs, but they are making tools that are sustaining the farming community. Their work is so important." In his workshop, Fetty has a large display of tools found on his Mexican journeys.
In 2008, Fetty started Chestnut Ridge Artists Colony, and he is working tirelessly to bring other artists to the top of the mountain. His shop has been located there for almost four years, and Holcomb Woodworking and TLH Jewelry are on site as well. A vineyard and winery are being built, and the city is working to establish walking/hiking trails in the area.
The blacksmith shop
Fetty employs five people, including the Kim Fox. He calls her the den mother, as she does everything from cooking the gourmet meal served to dignitaries at a recent news conference, to power-washing the side of the building, to mulching the flowerbeds, to sanding and grinding pieces of art.
Tools are on racks, including ones made from used NASCAR axles, a popular trick among modern-day blacksmiths.
"That steel is as hard as it gets," he said.
In the shop, a 3,000-pound 1937 Chambersburg pneumatic hammer sends out an ear-shattering ring as the tool hits the large metal plate, slamming the piece of hot steel between the two huge pieces of metal, drawing out its length. There are welders, drill presses, hammers and anvils, and a fork truck that carries steel stock that's stored neatly around the cavernous building. The centerpiece, a coal-fueled forge, has a large vent Fetty crafted, and an electric fan below the coals makes the fire surge when it's turned on.
Nearby, a fluffy cat eats from a forged bowl atop a large anvil.
On sawhorses near the front door, a 200 million-year-old slab of petrified wood from Oregon awaits Fetty's artful hands to make it into a piece of furniture for sale in a shop at The Greenbrier or at the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Hanging on the two-story walls of the shop are samples of fences.
"If I walk in with a hunk of fence, it shows its honest integrity. It's a great sales tool, and it helps me if I make a sample for the pricing of the job. I'm an artist before I'm a businessman, but it's all about going the extra mile."
Reach Sara Busse at sara.bu...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1249.