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Buncombe County blacksmith's superpowers include compassion for the homeless

Steven Bryan brings a modern twist to an old school craft. "I forge things in a spider's mouth," he declared, referring to the custom forge that's so hot it's cool. "While I'm working, I like to get lost in what I'm doing." (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Steven Bryan brings a modern twist to an old school craft.

"I forge things in a spider's mouth," he declared, referring to the custom forge that's so hot it's cool. "While I'm working, I like to get lost in what I'm doing."

This is Bryan's sometimes loud escape from the world, where the sound of hammering gives way to a sense of peace.

"It's like meditation," he explained.

You don't have to be superhuman to have a superpower of sorts. Bryan doesn't have X-ray vision, but he does sees something most don't.

"To anyone else it might look like nothing, and taking that and making into something different," Bryan said.

Bryan once dreamed of being a comic book creator.

"I still haven't made some Wolverine claws yet, but, inevitably, that's something I want to do," he said at the shop at his Enka home.

As a blacksmith, Bryan specializes in knives.

"I always thought they were neat, and, being comfortable moving around metal, I thought it was a natural transition for me," he recalled.

In the spring, Bryan won a show called "Forged in Fire" on the History Channel, beating other contestants in a test of iron will that earned him $10,000.

"The historical weapon I created was the Ngombe Ngulu. It's a West African executioner sword," he said, showing revealing a tattoo on his left arm of the winning weapon.

That might not even be the most interesting thing about him. Bryan works with the homeless at the Haywood Street Congregation in downtown Asheville. So, it turns out his superpower is compassion.

"Just the act of engaging and giving someone dignity and respect who otherwise in society is kind of looked down on," he said.

When Bryan's alone in his shop, he taps into a keen sense of time.

"There's a connection to the history of the craft as you're forging," said the mere mortal who's discovered anything is possible with fire and a creative spark.

"This is my forge, and I make stuff in it, and it's awesome!" he said proudly.

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