My name is Sam Riehl, I'm eighteen years old, and I'm currently the youngest professionally operating blacksmith in the state of Louisiana. I am an actively producing artist here in Lafayette, having made my tenth year this past April in my chosen medium: metal. I picked up the trade when I was eight and a half years old, and have been at it ever since, loving what I do and learning from everyone I encounter. I discovered blacksmithing through Pyromania – Lafayette Art Association’s annual festival centered on fire generated arts. My mother, Angela Riehl, demonstrated all of the 14 years that Pyro existed, introducing me at a young age to an amazing array of art forms, an overwhelming set of people, and giving me every opportunity to find my own talent among it all. As it was, I gravitated towards the blacksmiths of the Louisiana Metalsmith Association (LAMA) at eight and a half years old, and it has since become my lifelong passion. I was immediately embraced by blacksmiths such as Richard Delahoussaye, Jerry Baker, and David Bernard, who have facilitated my learning and supported my dedication to the trade all along, helping me every step of the way, and continuing to lend me a hand on a daily basis. These men of the Louisiana Metalsmith Association took me in, elected me “vessel keeper," and offered me every opportunity to learn. Blacksmithing is more than just a job for me; it's what I love to do; how I choose to employ my free time; my outlet; my favorite.
Over the years, support hasn’t only come from within the blacksmith circle, but from all over the artist community. Individuals and artists such as Miles Peterson, Kelly Guidry, and my grandmother Ellen Caillouet have served as huge motivation for me and contributed greatly to my growth as an artist. It’s people such as these that have made me fall in love with art: the process, the product, the community into which it is received, and every person involved along the way. I have grown up immersed in our culture; surrounded by the people and places that make it unique. Art has been an integral part of my life, from Pyromania and Festival Acadiens, San Souci and the Louisiana Crafts Guild, to the Acadiana Center for the Arts.
Come, Experience Louisiana...
and meet Sam!