Elder Heart is a veteran-owned company that increases the awareness of veteran issues through commissioned public and private art pieces. The organization not only employs, but educates and empowers veterans by providing opportunities to create ceremonial and presentation artwork projects out of raw steel. Its larger pieces have been commissioned for towns and city centers, but the organization’s work also includes even more personal works of art. One such project created by Elder Heart is its tomahawk.

Rather than being used as a tool or weapon, these tomahawks celebrate the warrior spirit and honor those who have and those who continue to sacrifice for their country. Each is handmade, time and labor intensive. The final product is one that is worth all the effort and more.

HANDCRAFTED: Every Elder Heart Tomahawk begins as a repurposed railroad spike. First, the spike is heated in the forge until it is red hot. Then the head of the spike, which becomes the blade of the tomahawk, is hammered flat, creating a natural blade shape. Once the craftsman has the blade flat, it is dipped into water to rapidly cool off. The blade is then worked into a desired shape. The tomahawk is given a cube shape in the middle of the shaft by torch heating and shaping with hand tools. The surface is smoothed with an angle grinder for a cleaner finish and the edge is shaped with a table grinder.

Following this, the tomahawk is heated to create a blue finish. At this point, the heat treatment is finished for added color effects. The tomahawk handle is hammered into the head with a soft mallet, and the head and handle are wrapped with sinew for the finished look.

FINDING PEACE: The final product is a tomahawk with an authentic aged look. The Elder Heart Tomahawk is a fitting gift and ceremonial piece with beautiful deep bluing effects and artistic elements throughout. In creating artistic pieces, the craftsmen honor the warrior spirit while empowering veterans through artistic expression.

Just as many historical tomahawks were given as signs of peace, camaraderie and brotherhood, Elder Heart Tomahawks also are commonly given as gifts for notable achievement, recognition and appreciation. These tomahawks allow warriors to continue helping warriors far from the battlefield and much closer to home. Furthermore, the issues brought to light by Elder Heart and the art work they’ve created demonstrate how a cultural solution involving all members of society is the best approach in the healing formula. (

This article was originally published in the AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN™ Winter 2016 issue #205. Subscription is available in print and digital editions here.

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