Cornerstone Forge
Artisan Information
My interest in decorative aluminum began in 1990 when I attended the first Hammered
Aluminum Show.  I went seeking  information about several pieces of Kensington ware
that I had.  Originally from the New Kensington, Pa. area where Alcoa was located and
Ware was made, I had pieces and had an interest in whether it was
collectible.  Once I saw the amazing variety of aluminum art I soon forgot about the main
reason that I attended and began my journey looking primarily for pieces of  hand
hammered / wrought aluminum.  I began collecting various pieces not really knowing
anything about them and soon had quite a collection.  I wonder
ed about pieces like where
and when they were made and who produced them.  I was surprised to find that not
much was known and I then began doing my own primary research into various
producers and have amassed a large amount of source materials. I have also conducted
interviews with many of the original artisans.  I have written articles for antique journals
and magazines and have also authored monographs about several artisans including
Fox, Clayton Sheasley, Cartwright Castle-Art and John Findley/Frank Deets
. These
are professionally researched, written and spiral bound.  I continue to research various
artisans and am particularly interested in those from Pennsylvania. I welcome information
and pieces about the following producers;
HC, Arthur Armour, Palmer Smith,
Wendell August, Laird-Argental, Mansfeld, Hyman Blum and L. Gene Stewart
My research has also led me to
acquire vintage dies which I used since 1999 to make my
own giftware
. My goal is to both preserve them and spread their art to new generations.
These are original pieces made by Henry Mansfeld.  The
silent butler has a wonderful stylized gazelle motif.  The
candleholders also have a graceful design incorporated into
them. His pieces were marked either H. Mansfeld or
Mansfeld P.P.P CO. Unfortunately many of his pieces also
went unmarked making identification difficult. Also his
production output was somewhat limited making his pieces
Henry Mansfeld was a very skilled blacksmith who immigrated from Germany to
Pennsylvania in the early part of the last century.  He worked for various companies
fabricating ironwork. In the 1930's he began producing his own line of aluminum gift
ware using steel dies that he designed and engraved himself.  Mansfeld was a self taught
artist and drew inspiration from nature and art books to design his dies.  Most are very
stylized renditions of a floral nature but he also did some with horses and birds. They
reflect the Art Nouveau and Art Deco influences that interested him at the time.  He sold
the dies in the 1960's and they lay unused but well cared for until 1997 when I acquired
them along with his tools and forms. In 1999, I began making pieces with them and
marking them "
Hand Wrought Mansfeld by Dennis" in honor of him.
Clever original piece by Rev. L. Gene Stewart using 2 different dies.  The
Praying Hands are surrounded by Appleblossom.  His pieces are marked
"Hand Wrought by L. Gene Stewart". The die motifs are very straightforward
and realistic, reflecting various plants such as dogwood, daisy and pine but
there are also dogs, deer and ducks and are indicative of the popular designs
of the 1940's and 1950's .
Rev. L. Gene Stewart began producing aluminum in the late 1940's and continued
throughout most of his life. He designed and engraved his steel dies to use in making
aluminum giftware. As a minister, he used his aluminum work to both ease tension and
help raise money for various parishes.  I acquired these dies, forms, tools and hand stamp
in 2003 and now make items with them.  They are marked "
Hand Wrought  Stewart by
to honor him.
Attention: The information on this page is for your
enjoyment only.  Please do not use it for your own personal
gain by placing it on your website or on ebay.  I spent
considerable time and money acquiring this information. If
you wish to use it please ask first.  Thank you
A grouping of original pieces by The Forge with the Magnolia
motif.  It is a magnificent die that I now have and use on a
variety of pieces. The die was engraved by the master
Steve Adams for The Forge. Their dies that I have are very
detailed depicting various garden scenes along with other
designs and many smaller dies for Christmas ornaments,
jewelry and bookmarks.
The Forge began in Pennsylvania around 1996 but grew rather quickly and eventually
after moving to Ohio they opened stores in both Michigan and Virginia.  Financial issues
forced their closing in 2007 and in 2009 I was able to acquire some of the dies that they
used in their production.  Most of these dies were engraved by Steve Adams and the
pieces that I make are marked
"Hand Wrought Adams by Dennis"  to honor him.
Dennis Wildnauer is a retired Horticulturist who developed
a love of aluminum art so I traded in my trowel for a
hammer. Since 1999 I have been hammering out pieces of
aluminum giftware art with the above dies and also with
some of my own original designs created with various
stamps, tools and new dies. These pieces are  marked
Wrought by Dennis"
 Among my favorites are my original
Christmas Tree, Ornate Tree and Snowman.
A. J. Hoover (Aaron J. Hoover) was an industrial arts teacher at
The California State Teachers College in California, Pa. from
1936 to 1967.  He taught various subjects under Industrial Arts
including hammered aluminum.  He engraved at least 2 dies for
teaching purposes; a larger Pine die(an original tray from that die
is shown at left) and a smaller Aster die. I purchased the dies in
2011. These pieces are marked "
Hand Wrought Hoover by
" to honor him.  Interestingly, L. Gene Stewart went to
this college and likely took classes from A.J. Hoover.  His Daisy
die is very similar to the Hoover Aster.
James A Baker  operated Laurel Mountain Forge from 1996 to
2002 in 2 locations, first near Ligonier and then near Titusville in
Pa.  He engraved all of his own dies, mostly animals and also
historic buildings in the area.  He made many different types of
items including trays, coasters, bookends, napkin holders,
candleholders and ornaments. They were then colored in a coal fire
and buffed clean to highlight the details.  Jim was very talented
with all aspects of metalworking having worked for 10 years at
Wendell August Forge. I acquired his dies and some equipment in
2019 after he passed away. I mark pieces made with his dies
Hand Wrought Baker by Dennis" to honor him.
Showcase exhibiting some of my personal hammered
aluminum collection shown at the Aluminuts
Collectors exhibit within the Aluminum by Design
exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art from 2000-
2001.  My focus was on little known aluminum
artisans from
Pennsylvania.  Pieces shown were
made by Hyman Blum, Eugene Town, Palmer-Smith,
Cartwright Castle -Art, Henry Mansfeld, James
DePonceau, Shup Laird, John W. Findley, Clayton
Sheasley, Laird and Cornerstone Forge/Mansfeld by