Whit Hanschka brings a longtime fascination with fire and metal to his craft. After graduating from Stanford University with a degree in mechanical engineering, he combined his technical skills and love of the water in building classic wooden boats at the Gannon & Benjamin Marine Railway in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. He also began crafting bronze boat hardware there. For several years, Whit taught boatbuilding and woodworking at the Penikese Island School in Buzzards Bay, a wilderness-based residential program for troubled teens. Looking for ways to engage his students on an island with no electricity, he assembled a rough working blacksmith’s forge and began to learn and teach blacksmithing.
Whit opened his own metalworking shop on Martha’s Vineyard in 1996. He specializes in custom wrought iron, bronze, and stainless steel, creating hand-forged work for architects, builders, interior designers, landscape architects, and private clients. His commissioned work includes fireplace screens, railings, gates, fences, architectural hardware, sign brackets, lighting fixtures, furniture, traditional marine hardware, and specialty pieces.
When he’s not bending bronze, mulling over a design challenge, or finessing a CAD drawing, Whit often heads north for some backcountry skiing or marathon mountain rambles, usually with a boomerang or two in his backpack. Locally he surfs the south shore and runs the island’s many miles of trails with a handful of other Sunday morning diehards. He lives with his family in Vineyard Haven.
He is a member of the Artist-Blacksmith Association of North America (ABANA), the New England Blacksmiths (NEB), and the Martha’s Vineyard Builders Association.
Examples of his craftsmanship are featured in the book Stone by Design by Lew French. His work has also been published in:
Boston Globe Magazine
Design New England
Martha’s Vineyard Arts + Ideas
Martha’s Vineyard Home + Garden
Martha’s Vineyard Times
The Vineyard Gazette
“Thanks so much! It looks beautiful! Peter saw [the fireplace] in person when he was at the house yesterday…he loved it!”