Sparks Fly at the Fitchburg Blacksmithing and Renaissance Festival


Pat Lipman (Right) weaving on her 43 year old loom

Nicholas Valdez, Staff Writer, Managing Editor

October 1, 2022, Fitchburg held a Blacksmithing and Renaissance Festival at Riverfront Park, to connect the townsfolk of Fitchburg to the art of metal sculpting, blacksmithing, and chainmail combat. 


The venue hosted a variety of tents, many of which were occupied by men slamming hammers and bending hot metal on heavy anvils. Towards the end of the event, a particular man began to strike his anvil when little bits and pieces of his work station began flying everywhere.


“The more tired we get the more stuff goes flying around,” he smirked at the audience he had gathered throughout the day.


Though many tents harbored blacksmiths displaying the process of their craft, other tents housed metal sculptors displaying and selling the end results of their art. Matt Dunn, a UMass Dartmouth alumni, began metal sculpting in 2012 and has continued to work on his sculpting skills for the past ten years.


“I’ve always wanted to weld, but going to college I got the opportunity to try out the medium and then through that I really got to develop my skills and continue the passion,” said Dunn.


Although Dunn had an assortment of astrology and animal related metal decor, his most eye drawing piece was the large metal bear that he had sitting right next to his stand, greeting people as they passed by.


“So that’s Bear Bones right there. He’s my mascot,” chuckled Dunn. “It was actually a homework project to make a skeleton. I like bears, so bear skeleton.”


Dunn explained that the skeleton structure took him about two months of work, and he was so satisfied with the piece that the sculpture ended up becoming the mascot of his company. 


Many self-made companies made their way out to Riverfront Park that afternoon to showcase their wares, one of which was The Bonnie Weaver. Owned by Pat Lipman and her husband, The Bonnie Weaver had set up their own loom to display just how their linens and cloths pay homage to the traditional way of the renaissance. The loom costs around two thousand dollars, and has lasted Lipman 43 years.


“I got it from a kit because I hadn’t really done that much weaving and I thought building it myself would help me get better,” said Lipman.


Through all the chaos and moving parts, the massive, fully mechanical machine was capable of making intricate patterns on fabrics. Lipman would explain how all four pedals at the bottom led to different patterns as she slammed thread after thread into the fabric, making sure her passion wouldn’t come undone in the future


“Weaving is something special. It’s something that’s a part of every culture and we’ve been doing it since we’ve kept ourselves clothed,” said Lipman. “It makes it something special to be a part of.”