Lone blackjack defies the times

TRENTON - September 18, 2009 In a world of high-tech tools and gadgetry, Sasha Parubchenko is a blast from the past. He's the only remaining fulltime blacksmith in New Jersey. From his workshop in Trenton, he takes pieces of iron heated to 2,500 degrees in a forge and hammers them into all kinds of objects.

"If you use machinery, it's nice if you can duplicate it 5, 6, 200, 3,000 pieces and allt hat stuff. If you do a one of a kind where I come in when I do my gates, it's one of a kind, nobody else has it," Parubchenko said.

Unaffected by the bad economy, Sasha, who's been married 5 times, works on what he calls his "bread and butter" pieces like gates, railings and hinges during the week, sometimes using a power hammer made in Philadelphia back in 1905. But weekends are spent on his own creations which are art pieces influenced by his travels around the world.

Sasha is 65-years-old, but has no intention of retiring. He says the physical work he does while forging keeps him young.

"Maybe that's why I've gone through so many wives because this is my life. This is what I love to do. I get up 4, 5 in the morning. I'm dreaming something. Yes! Yes! I've got to do that! I see it, I got to do it," Parubchenko said.

There are hazards apart from the flames and molten iron. Sasha is walking in a cast right now after a 150 pound piece he was working on dropped on his foot. But that hasn't stopped him from his blacksmithing.

Parubchenko says there's just about nothing that could keep him from the ancient trade he loves.

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