A Craftsman In The Making
Wayne Rice grew up visiting Silver Dollar City. His family would make the short trip from Ozark several times a year to enjoy all the park had to offer, and on occasion, little Wayne would come along to ride rides while his father made deliveries to the park. While attending high school in Ozark, Wayne learned to forge, and after graduation he worked at Fasco Manufacturing in the die casting department for almost 30 years. Always good at making things with his hands, Rice had worked with metal his entire life. So when a blacksmith position became available at Silver Dollar City in 2003, he applied right away.
The Silver Dollar City Years
Silver Dollar City blacksmiths make everything from fireplace sets and kitchen utensils to tools such as nails and shovels. The most common item produced is a wrought iron rose. A skilled craftsman can produce this intricate design in less than a hour, and the Wilderness Road Blacksmith Shop produces approximately 250 roses per year. They're a favorite item of kids, who often come back time after time. "Young folks are fun to entertain. Their eyes light up when you show them how to shape metal into a rose. I add a touch of rose oil, and they're amazed to find out it even smells like the real thing!" says Rice, who often sends children away with small items for a keepsake or "show-and-tell".
Wayne likes to share his knowledge with others. Guests who stop to watch his demonstrations are surprised at the versatility of the material. They're fascinated with the process of forming the metal, taking something square and making it a completely different shape.
Wayne finds the ability to collaborate the most exciting aspect of being a craftsman at Silver Dollar City, whether working with guests to design and produce a special order, or joining forces with other craftsmen to create a new product. "You always learn something new when you combine the knowledge of two or three craftsmen to make a one-of-a-kind piece." Wayne says, adding, "Next I'd like to make a chandelier."
Wayne and his wife have traveled throughout the United States and South America. While traveling, they like to visit antique shops and often find items to add to his collection of antique tools. No matter where he goes, he always strikes up a conversation with people he meets. Next on the list, Niagara Falls.