Why I am a Blacksmith


Why I Am A Blacksmith

A carpenter friend of mine once told me that no matter how hopeless things looked he could always feel positive because he had a skill. He was useful.

I needed a job and I decided I also needed to try to become as proficient as possible in a skill. I answered an ad for an apprentice welder and got the job. This led to blacksmithing. The first time I moved the metal it made me feel different, hopeful.

The rhythm of the hammer on the anvil .When it is quiet and you are really focused. You get your nose close to the work as it turns from yellow to red. The sound changes pitch and there is a sweet smell in the warmth coming off the cooling steel.

Sometimes it is hard to be hopeful. Humans, what we do to each other and to our world.

Metalwork is a skill that comes with a measure of violence. Working in this environment helps me to redirect the feelings I get when I read or watch the news. I put my head down and work.

I pick up a piece of steel and light a fire.

Why iron and steel? I understand why people ask me this question. Iron and steel are cold and dark and often creepy. They are devoid of color unless they rust which they always do. Rust is decay.

 I work with this medium because it gives me hope. It helps me to control my fear. I can pick up a cold , hard, plain piece of steel and by some crazy primitive alchemy I can change its form. Steel is not inherently beautiful like gold or copper. The beauty is created by work and expectation. Working steel helps me to believe that other things in life can be changed by intention and diligence. I am not so naive to believe that I can change life's course but perhaps as with steel I can make it manifest some beauty. It never loses its temperament completely but maybe by changing its form I can distract myself from its despair.