The Documentation Project is a multimedia archive to categorize over 600 pieces of existing ironworks that Mr. Simmons, one of the world's most renowned Master Blacksmiths, designed, fabricated, or repaired.
John Michael Vlach wrote the book, “Charleston Blacksmith: The Work of Philip Simmons” in 1981 which documented his major works up to that date. (This book is in its fourth printing and is one of the best sellers for the
South Carolina Press.)
Then in 1995, the Simmons Foundation partnered with the Historic Charleston Foundation to identify the works of Mr. Simmons. Three years were spent collecting initial data with the help of a grant from the South Carolina Humanities Foundation.
However, in the interim homes were renovated and as a result, ironworks by Philip Simmons were beginning to disappear from the sites
that were originally recorded. As houses weresold, some owners took the piece(s) to their new home and some were donated to the School of the Building Arts (now the
of the Building Arts.)
A New Partnership
More and more, magazines and national television shows were requesting information about Mr. Simmons, leading to the discovery of these site changes. With this alarm, it was evident that the documentation that was previously done would need a site check.
A fellow collaborator and friend of Mr. Simmons, Mary Edna Fraser who is also a local artist, introduced Sunhead Projects to the project administrator of the Simmons Foundation to do a documentary. As a result of that meeting, the Foundation and Sunhead Projects joined efforts to produce the most comprehensive archives of Simmons to date.
The Avery Research Center
On April 21, 2007, Avery Research Center at the College of Charleston set up a “Simmons Room” in their building to continue to input the database, display some of Mr. Simmons’ drawings, photographs of his works, his first anvil, some ironworks, and a bust of Mr. Simmons, carved in mahogany by Mark Woodward, the most recent gift to the Foundation.
Current and Future Activities
The Project encompasses video, print and on-the-ground, self guided tours. Ultimately the endeavor will involve students, photographers, videographers, historians and many other interested citizens of Charleston.
Also, a series fundraising events will be held, the first of which took place on November 28, 2006 at Alterman Studios.
Another fundraiser was held in 2009 called "Watch Sparks Fly!" Please see the video clip below.
• Database: Identifying and certifying works of Mr. Simmons
• DVD to include:
- The Building of a Gate
- Neighborhood Works
• Book: A comprehensive study of Mr. Simmons' works captured in photography
• Walking Tours: Three walking tours of Mr. Simmons' exciting and cherished works in Charleston • Lesson Plans: Update of the existing plans that include a video/DVD
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Help is always needed. Non-earmarked donations will be used for a variety of expenses and projects within the overall documentation.
For those donating, please note “Doc. Project” on your check.