Dan Nauman first put a hammer blow to hot iron in the historic shop in Cedarburg’s Cedar Creek Settlement in 1979. He has the pleasure of designing and forging chandeliers, wall sconces, fireplace tools, railings, gates, tables, sign brackets, door hardware, arbors, and much more for numerous homes and mansions. Most notably, he has made items for the Kailas and Becky Rao Estate (Herman Uihlein Mansion, an Italian Renaissance mansion) in Whitefish Bay, WI; the Pabst Mansion (Flemish Renaissance) in Milwaukee, WI; the Executive Residence in Madison, WI; the former Governor Patrick Lucey Estate (Georgian Style Mansion) in River Hills, WI; Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum (Tuscan Style Villa) in Milwaukee, WI; and produced basin brackets for the Kohler Company. Nauman designs his work to suit classic as well as contemporary tastes. Incorporating French and German repousse’, flora and fauna motifs, and hand forging the iron in the tradition of the old world craftsmen, Nauman continues to strive for the highest quality designs and workmanship. He relentlessly studies the great masters’ works and drawings to continue the life-long learning curve.
He has been awarded several grants to study and document the work of one of the famed metal masters, Cyril Colnik (1871-1958). Colnik came to this country in 1893 from Austria. Colnik applied his mastery to the finest homes in southeastern Wisconsin and has been dubbed the ‘Tiffany of Wrought Iron Masters’. Nauman has recorded Colnik’s works in iron through black and white photography, and color slides. Through a 1997 grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council as well as support from Miller Brewing Company, the Kailas and Becky Rao Foundation, and several other private and corporate interests, Nauman was the Project Director of a video documentary on Cyril Colnik. This feature aired on Wisconsin Public Television (a partner in the project) in 1998, and on Milwaukee public Television in 1998 and 1999. Currently, Nauman is redesigning the Colnik Galleries at Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum.
Daniel Nauman is a Kewaskum resident and a native of Wisconsin. He is married to Toni Farrell, and together they raise horses and other livestock on their 5 rural acres. As an industrial traveling salesman, a manager of industrial quality control, and a foreman of an industrial production line, he has had the privilege of working a well-rounded industrious life in southeastern Wisconsin. In 1984, Nauman founded Bighorn Forge Ironworks, and incorporated the company in Kewaskum, in 1991. He opened a second forge in 1995 in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin, on the picturesque Door County peninsula. In 2000, he acquired another shop at the historic Cedar Creek Settlement in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. The Baileys Harbor shop was closed in 2001, and the Cedarburg shop closed in 2006 to concentrate solely on commissions in the Kewaskum shop.
Nauman has written several feature articles, has lectured, taught and demonstrated the trade. He has served as a board member for “The Artist Blacksmith’s Association of North America” (ABANA) from 2000 to 2006, and is the chairman for the ABANA committee that is currently writing lessons in forging for the trade journal “The Hammer’s Blow.” He is also a member of the “National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association” (NOMMA).
In 2005, Nauman received an international award for workmanship from NOMMA for a chandelier made for the Pabst Mansion in Milwaukee. The piece was a reproduction of a Cyril Colnik original, which once adorned the grand foyer of the mansion.
In 2006, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum commissioned Nauman to redesign the Cyril Colnik galleries. The new galleries will be more interactive, and will properly display Colnik’s works as they were intended to be seen. Upon entering the galleries, patrons will see the many tools used by the smith to make the wonderful items seen in the galleries. Some of these tools were used by Colnik himself. Colnik’s sample boards, drawings, blueprints, and numerous photographs will also be displayed.
Also in 2006, Nauman was offered a position as a professor at the “American College of the Building Arts” in Charleston, SC. The ACBA is the only college in North America which offers a bachelor’s degree in any of the following building arts: Forging, Masonry, Plastering, Carpentry, Timber-framing, and Stone carving. Though Nauman enjoys teaching, fully supports the ACBA’s mission, and understands the importance of proper instruction, for personal reasons he decided to respectfully decline the offer. For more information on the ACBA see www.buildingartscollege.us.
Early in Nauman’s career he traveled around the country from New Hampshire to Idaho to learn what he could from dedicated masters of the blacksmith’s trade. Today, Nauman returns the favor by traveling the country demonstrating and teaching the trade he so loves at conferences and workshops. Dan is now invited to lecture and demonstrate at trade conferences, living history events, and art museums around the country.
Dan’s service to his art
- Second Vice President and board member for the Artist Blacksmith’s Association of North America (ABANA)
- Board member for the Upper Midwest Blacksmith’s Association
- Project Director for the video “Forged Elegance,” based on the life and works of Cyril Colnik, the famed Austrian-born metals master. The video aired on Milwaukee and Wisconsin Public Television. Colnik worked as a smith in Milwaukee during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His works can be seen around Milwaukee—most notably at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum.
- Guest curator for Contemporary Metals exhibit at Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
- Chaired the Educational Programs committee for ABANA
The range of styles found in Dan’s portfolio developed from his study of the wealth of architectural treasures in Wisconsin, many of which appear in the National Registry of Historic Places. A few of these notable buildings include:
- The Herman Uihlein Mansion, Whitefish Bay (owned by Kailas and Becky Rao)
- The Captain Fredrick Pabst Mansion, Milwaukee
- Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee
- The Executive Residence, Madison
- The Paine Art Museum and Gardens, Oshkosh
- Bjorklunden, Bailey’s Harbor (Lawrence University Extension)
Dan’s volunteer service to the community
- Dan has been active in many aspects of the community, whether it be the church, the hometown, charitable organization, or special interest. He has served as a church elder, deacon, and chairman of deacons. He has served as a volunteer blacksmith demonstrator at several outdoor museums, as well as a re-enactor for Civil War, (Fourth Kentucky Cavalry) and Wild West Show horseman, act announcer, and guest blacksmith at the Old Wade House historical site, Greenbush, WI.
- Dan was co-founder/co-chairman of the Northern Kettle Moraine Tourism Council; and founder of the Historic Trades Weekend, at the Old Wade House, Greenbush, WI.
- Dan has been active as a fund raiser, and founded the “Pignic” community fair and fund raiser for Peace United Church Of Christ, Kewaskum, WI; founded the “Artisan’s Auction”, a fund raiser for local charities such as Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics; and also organized a silent and live auction for the “Upper Midwest Norwegian Fjord Horse Assoc.”
- Dan and his wife, Toni Farrell, have organized and held annual blacksmith’s conferences since 1997 with demonstrators from around the nation, at Bighorn Forge in Kewaskum, WI. (average attendance 25-35 people.)
- Dan has served as a board member for the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America (ABANA) 2000 –2006, and implemented and chairs a committee to write forging lessons for the ABANA publication “The Hammer’s Blow”. Dan was Second Vice President of ABANA 2000-2001.
- Dan has also been a member of the Door County Chamber of Commerce; the Baileys Harbor Business Assoc.; the Kewaskum Chamber of Commerce; the Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce; the National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Assoc. (NOMMA), ABANA; and several other blacksmith, horse and trade associations.
- 1957 – Milwaukee, WI
- 2016 to present: Editor/designer of The Anvil’s Ring (periodical of The Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America (ABANA)
- 2015-present: Editor/designer, The Hammer’s Blow (ABANA)
- 1995 to 2002: Bighorn Forge satellite shop and gallery in Baileys Harbor, WI
- 2000 to 2006: Bighorn Forge at Cedar Creek, shop and gallery in Cedarburg, WI.
- 1993 to present: Artisan, designer, owner, Bighorn Forge, Inc.
- 1994 Artist Blacksmith’s Association of North America (ABANA) Conference, St. Louis, MO
Lecture on master blacksmith Cyril Colnik.
- 1997 Rocky Mountain Smiths Conference, Carbondale, CO
- 1997 Upper Midwest Regional Blacksmith’s Conference, Pontiac, IL
- 1998 ABANA Conference, Asheville, NC
- 2000 ABANA Conference, Flagstaff, AZ
- 2000 Illinois Valley Conference; Pontiac, IL
- 2000 Began teaching “Forging Fundamental” workshops at Bighorn Forge
- 2002 ABANA Conference, La Crosse, WI
- 2004 River Bluff Conference, Memphis, TN
- 2004 Blacksmith Association of Missouri, St. Louis, MO
- 2004 ABANA Conference, Richmond, KY
- 2004 Francis Whitaker Memorial Master Blacksmith Class, Carbondale, CO
- 2005 Francis Whitaker Memorial Master Blacksmith Class, Carbondale, CO
- 2005 Peters Valley Craft School, Layton, NJ
- 2005 Rocky Mountain Smiths Conference, Carbondale, CO
- 2006 American College of Building Arts, Charleston, SC
- 2006 Indiana Blacksmith’s Assoc. Conference, Tipton, IN
- 2007 “Masters of the Building Arts Festival”, Charleston, SC
- 2007 Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee, WI
Lecture on Cyril Colnik
- 2008 Bonneville Forge Council”, Salt Lake City, UT
- 2009 New England Blacksmith Assoc., Boston, MA
- 2010 ABANA Conference, Memphis, TN
- 2011 New England School of Metalwork, Auburn, ME
- 2015 Quad-State Blacksmith Round-up, Troy, OH
- 2015 The Clearing Folk School, Ellison Bay, WI
- 2016 ABANA Conference, Salt Lake City, UT
Demonstrator, lecturer, instructor
Artist in Residence
- 2011 (July) “Leigh Yawkey Woodsen Art Museum,” Wausau, WI
- 2000 “Earth, Fire and Water” art-metals exhibition, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee, WI
- 1997 “Wisconsin Humanities Council”; grant for the making of “Forged Elegance; The Lifework of Master Blacksmith Cyril Colnik” video production
- 2001 “Wisconsin Arts Board”; grant for documenting, and demonstrating features of the “Neptune Gate” (an iron gate which Dan helped design and forge for Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee, WI