The Whole Shaped The Parts
What is it for? I love it when someone asks that question about a piece I have made. Yes, what is it for? Why did you make it? At first I was happy just making things. Things that have an obvious function. But blacksmithing is an unusual craft. It is a skill of discovery. The metal will do almost anything. It is incredibly strong. It will take the form of skin, bones, water or stone.
Steel is made up of carbon and iron. Carbon is the forth most abundant element in the universe by mass. It is a common element of all known life, the second most abundant element in the human body. Carbon is the ultimate shape shifter. It is responsible for the hardest and the softest natural materials known. It is stardust. Iron is the most abundant element on earth by mass. Dig iron ore from the earth, apply enough heat and it becomes metallic iron. Different processes and different eras dictate its strength, softness and texture.
In a mechanical system the parts shaped the whole while in an organic system the whole shaped the parts. goethe
I walk around outside and I see all of this beauty erupting everywhere. How intentional is it? Does a tree concentrate on the fibonacci sequence when it sends out leaves? No, it just happens. Call it what you will, it is life on this planet. I am life too. I must have, inherent in myself, the ability to create beauty. We all do.
I want the iron and carbon to show me that I belong here. That I am part of the natural system. But I am a form of life on this planet that has intention so I have to assume that my intention, my determination, my purpose is going to play some part in the beauty or interest that I generate.
No matter where you are or what you have done, your only option is to take the next step. Steps and stairs are mysterious, exciting and troubling. I have begun a series to explore this idea. In this series I am making the steps so that they are removable and can be rearranged. You must take the next step but you do have some options as to where and when. These two examples combine pieces of steel in its manufactured state with forged connections. I want to couple the ingenuity of industrial steel with my basic instinct and the material's natural reaction to my hammer.