NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— Master blacksmith Darryl A. Reeves explained what his life’s work is, “A blacksmith is a person that shapes metal. He takes steel, understand the properties of it and do whatever he wants to do with it.”

Reeves, along with his wife Lolette own Andrews Welding and Blacksmith Shop.

According to Reeves, there was a time when the craft of the blacksmith was essential to every American city, “A town could not exist without a blacksmith. A blacksmith was the same as a doctor and a community couldn’t survive without a doctor.”

What started as a welding hobby and side job became a passion, but in the 70’s and 80’s it was difficult to find some to apprentice under.

Reeves said, “The direction I wanted to go into was basically old restoration and architectural design.”

Reeves eventually apprenticed under a couple of local masters and he’s succeeded in restoration and design. His work appears in countless residences and historic buildings in and around New Orleans, including The Cabildo, Jackson Square and the gates of the Chalmette National Cemetery.

Reeves also came to understand the contributions of metal workers form around the globe to our city, “They had so many nationalities down here between African, French, Spanish German. Depending on who fabricated that piece, it will look identical, but when you start taking these piece apart, every nationality had its own way of putting it together.”

Reeves has also done his part to apprentice and give jobs to dozens of others like Karina Roca and Teddy White Jr, “I’ve trained a lot of people, I’ve brought a lot of people from minimum wage into supporting themselves and making a good living for themselves and their families through the years, and that’s a good feeling.”