Contemporary Blacksmithing: Forged and Fabricated
I straddle a bridge we’ll call contemporary blacksmithing. On one side, I make use of the traditional tools and techniques to hand forge steel with hammer on anvil. On the other side, I incorporate modern fabricator tools to shear, weld, and finish the same hand-forged metal. Some practitioners spend more time with their metal work on one side of the bridge or the other. The craft is diverse as the bridge is long…
Indeed, the solitary work of yesterday’s blacksmith has evolved today into the trades of the modern welding fabricator, the mechanic, the sheet metal worker, the machinist, the mobile farrier. All can find their roots in the village blacksmith, hardly an archaic undertaking, it seems.
The road I took with contemporary blacksmithing is that of architectural metal work, the jewelry of the house or building. This includes railings, gates, signs, lighting, furniture and furnishings, big and small. The mid-20th century Modernist Aesthetic has inadvertently caused the return and desire for ornament, however restrained. And into this space, I find my work as did those of the Studio Craft Movement following WWII. There rose a new appreciation for useful items to be hand made artfully. The potter, the jeweler, the woodsmith, the metal worker, the glass and textile artist, all found a new audience for their artistic intuitions. Indeed, in my 40-year journey, I’ve seen the growth and demands of this artistic craft as a second Arts and Craft Movement.
While the Industrial Revolution in the late 1700’s arguably raised the standard of living with more manufactured goods, there still existed an undercurrent desire for objects that were handmade. Why? Was it the sign of the maker’s mark that people were drawn to as a spirit in the handmade object? Were they drawn to the illusion of simpler times when we weren’t strapped to the manufacturing process? Could something be found in their crafts that couldn’t be found in our words? Even now?
Throughout time, communities worldwide have always shown an appreciation and support, sometimes need, of these craft objects. They were the voices of the past and inadvertent inspirations to the future. They served a need but there was always something more to them. They are the moments in the maker’s life. When people tried their best. And still do.
Thanks for your interest in these works. These are my moments in Time. Small things, yes. But done with Great Love.