Some people think of blacksmithing as pure brute force, but to totally work—there has to be a marriage between hand, eye, energy from the body, brain, anvil, hammer and timing, and heat—like a smooth dance.
A blacksmith must revel in lighting up a forge and shaping hot iron into beautiful and useful objects.
Ironwork is everywhere around us in public places and inside our homes in the form of locks, utensils, hinges, light fixtures, furniture, staircase railings, benches, fences, bridges, signage, and sculptures in parks and in corporate buildings, etc. Iron is as an integral part of our everyday life as plaster, cement, bricks, paper, or wood.
Blacksmiths are often thought of as farriers who shoe horses. That is just one aspect of working iron. Smiths also formed long-standing tributes to our culture in the form of grand staircases, beautiful estate fences and gates, church crosses, armor and swords, tools, the first farm equipment (John Deere was a blacksmith), and so much more.
Mythology includes blacksmiths as important figures. The Greeks and Romans had gods of fire and patrons of all artisans, especially metalworkers.
In the 1960’s and 1970’s there was a resurgence in the interest of all crafts. This is partly due to Jackie Kennedy’s appreciation of crafts as art media. The first artist-blacksmiths to form the Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America met and formed this group in 1973.
Today, there are well over 5,000 members in every state in the United States.
The blacksmith’s shop or the “smithy” has many tools. The main ones are the forge (coal burning or gas burning), anvil (s), power hammer, swage block, tongs (which are often made by the smith for each different project), many hammers, chisels, a welder or welders, vices, power tools such as drills, grinders, saws, and many other detailed tools.
Often, it may take years to acquire these tools, if like myself, you prefer older tools, which have proven themselves over time.