Playing with fire: Local metal artist hosts a celebration of metal art with one big solstice party — ‘Fire in the Swamp’

Published 1:53 am Sunday, June 14, 2009

The mercury is climbing, the days are getting longer and Larry House of Picayune is lighting the “home” fires to create the biggest celebration of metal artists this little town has ever seen — “Fire in the Swamp.”

This three day celebration of local and near local metal artists, conceived by House, will include demonstrations of blacksmithing, bronze and pewter casting, sand casting, investment casting, rubber mold casting, rubber mold making and metal chasing and repousse. Exhibitors will include: Chris Marks, Hope Frost, John Perilloux, Paul Tuger and Deborah Davis. In addition, House and his wife Gwendolyn are prepared to offer free on-site “primitive” camping.

“It’s solstice,” said House. “It’s the longest hottest day of the year, and I always try to forge on the solstice.” This year he will be forging, but he will be forging in the company of more than 100 others who signed up to watch and/or participate in the fun. Three days of “Fire in the Swamp” or FITS may actually be causing real fits in House household, but people are getting really excited about the possibilities of such an event.

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“People are already saying, we know this year is just your first, but NEXT year… ,” said Gwendolyn. “It’s getting really scary.” The couple is already making arrangements for additional porta potties because you can never be too prepared.

The House solstice, metal art expo is set for June 19-21, with Friday, June 19, being a day of set up and registration and Saturday and Sunday, June 20 and 21, set aside for the live demonstrations to take place throughout the day. Those not interested in camping are invited to come out anytime Saturday and Sunday and spend the day enjoying the demonstrations.

What does House hope “Fire in the Swamp” will achieve? “I hope that people will learn about metal art and get inspired by it,” House said. He also really hopes to promote the individual artists and their work.

House is himself, one of these artists. “My hobby was metal work ever since I was a child,” he said. Growing up on a farm and having to maintain farm equipment sparked his interest initially which grew as House studied to be a machinist in high school.

After spending 11 years in the Air Force as an electrician, House returned to is love of all things metal and started to attend Renaissance Festivals, drawn to them by his love of blades as art. “There’s not a sword shop in every town, but there is one at every Renaissance Festival.”

From blade making, House stepped into the blacksmithing arena and has really become quite fond of the medium. He has also moved into creating more ornate works, including a beautiful dogwood fireplace set he made as a wedding present for a relative.

He continues his work with the Louisiana Renaissance Festival each year. He and his wife each own a business at the Festival — he does his blacksmithing and owns the knife and ax throwing game and she owns and operates a couple of pubs — which keep both of them busy throughout most of the year.

From his home in Picayune, House runs the Dragons Watch Forge, where he continues his work on his art and honing his craft.

House has joined several organizations, including American Blacksmith Society, Gulf Coast Blacksmith’s Association, Mississippi Arts Commission and the Greater Picayune Arts Council. Word of mouth through these organizations, along with his association to the Louisiana Renaissance Festival has helped to generate the buzz on his upcoming art metal expo.

Admission to “Fire in the Swamp” is free and donations will gladly be accepted to help cover the hosts expenses. For those that plan to attend, make sure you stop by the registration table.

Otherwise, “Have a good time,” House said.

For more information on this event, please visit or call 601-799-0441.