Posted on Friday, April 11, 2014

VCCS BlogIsaac Grunstra has received the Congressional Gold Medal for Youth Award, hiked 100 miles through the wilderness, and he’s also an Eagle Scout. Not too shabby for a guy who only recently turned 16.

“He’s a great kid,” says his mother, Ruth Grunstra. “He is very purposeful in the choices he makes.”

Gunstra the blacksmith 1Isaac, who has seven brothers and sisters, is home-schooled and taking dual enrollment classes at Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC).

“I am the 6th Grunstra and chose to follow my siblings to VHCC because of the cost and convenience of the time, place, and engineering program.”

After he earns his associates degree in engineering, Isaac plans to transfer to Virginia Tech. But there’s a lot of life to be lived between now and then and what better way to spend that time than indulging oneself in a hobby that’s been around for thousands of years.   

“I went to a summer camp with the Boy Scouts of America that had blacksmithing as an activity. I slowly assembled the necessary resources, and before too long, was hammering away on my I-beam anvil with iron heating in a homemade cast-iron sink forge.”

As his blacksmithing skills progressed, Isaac developed a keen interest in knife-making.

“I made my first shiv out of a lawnmower blade and have since advanced to using stock removal methods on 440-c stainless steel, which I then heat, treat and dip in liquid nitrogen for supreme hardening.”

So, what does a blacksmith typically do with his creations?

“I sell on Esty at my Grunstra Iron Works shop and have a Facebook page under the same name where I take custom orders. I also make knives for friends and family and one day hope to make blades for feature films.”

Isaac says he’s already teaching his friends and family the art of blacksmithing.

“Once my many nephews, nieces, and children come of age, I plan on at the very least introducing them all to my hobby/work and, if they express interest, helping get them started down their own blacksmithing trail.”'

Craig Butterworth

A native of Richmond, Craig Butterworth is an award-winning broadcast journalist and communications professional. He has worked as a spokesperson, staff writer and editor for a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations throughout the Richmond area.

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