The Art of Form and Function

During the year, I spend a great deal of time traveling over North America and Canada. In my travels, I am struck by how often I come in contact with farriers who are not only skilled at their work, but have amazing artistic talents, as well.

While recently we have been talking about the popularity of crafting with horseshoes (see Facebook posts), there are farriers who elevate this use of horseshoes to a whole new level. One such person is Tom Willoughby. Tom is a respected farrier and musician from Crown Point, Indiana, who is fast becoming known in the art world as a master craftsman. Simply put, his art is amazing!

“Fancy” The Great Blue Heron by Tom Willoughby

"Resting" Wood Sculpture by Tom Willoughby

“Resting” Wood Sculpture by Tom Willoughby

Tom is talented and versatile in his choice of medium. He works with both iron and wood and the detail that goes into his art is remarkable. I have included information about Tom that can be found on his website:

You can also find samples of Tom’s artwork on our new Instagram page at We will be showcasing both art work and the craft of farriery on this page.

I hope you take a moment to enjoy the artistic side of our industry – maybe you will be inspired to create your own masterpieces using the materials you use every day in your work as a farrier. Please be sure to share your photos by posting to Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #craftingwithkerckhaert. Or email your photos to

I hope you join in the conversation.

Getting to Know Tom Willoughby
(Reprinted with permission from his website:

TomWIlloughbyTom started shoeing horses full-time in 1981, after attending Midwest Horseshoeing School. While attending horseshoeing school, he was intrigued with forging, not only horseshoes but anything else he could dream up to build. He learned the intricacies and characteristics of steel and how it moves. Although he has been working with steel for over half his life, he has been an artist his whole life. Tom can make words come to life in a song. He also turns blocks of wood into intricate and beautiful works of art. He spends countless hours working at and perfecting each talent.

Tom officially established Willoughby Forge five years ago; although he has had a workshop for years. He built a shop to house the coal forge, plethora of tools, several anvils, the Big Blue air hammer, and a large worktable. Magic happens in this work studio as hand drawn ideas come to life in either steel or wood, or a combination of the two mediums.

Tom has become a clinician for creative forging classes, traveling throughout the country or giving classes at Willoughby Forge. His relaxed manner, amicable disposition and propensity for unique forgings make for very interesting and educational clinics.

His motto is, “It’s only steel. They make it every day, so don’t be afraid to hit it.”

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