What is a Master Blacksmith?
Posted 26 December 2008 - 11:57 AM
What and who defines a Master Blacksmith? What's the process for attaining this title?
Or is there no such thing, in a formal sense?
Posted 26 December 2008 - 12:19 PM
I'd say that a really good blacksmith is someone who can do just about anything with a hammer, a forge, some files and some steel. And a "Master Blacksmith" would be someone who could teach someone else to do those very same things.
The late Jeff Cooper, in an entirely different context, used to say that the highest level of an art is in teaching it properly.
Posted 26 December 2008 - 12:58 PM
In the USA, there are many local blacksmith groups that may have a certificate program that may bestow a master certification to members that can demonstrate skill to a certain level. I'm not sure if demonstrating the ability to teach those skills is part of the program or not.
ABANA, is the US National level blacksmith association and if they have a certification program I have not seen anything on their website about it.
In Europe, I believe there are still certifications given by the government, that certify smiths as apprentice, journeyman and master levels. I won't swear to that in court but that is the impression I have from posts written here by some of our European brothers / sisters.
Please those of you who actually know, fill in the gaps and make corrections to my inaccuracies and outright fabrications!
Reflect it in their art
Forge their creativity
Closer to the heart (Rush)
Posted 26 December 2008 - 03:00 PM
Edited by KYBOY, 26 December 2008 - 03:03 PM.
Posted 26 December 2008 - 04:33 PM
Posted 26 December 2008 - 04:36 PM
If you have OCD and ADHD , everything has to be perfect, but not for very long,
Posted 26 December 2008 - 06:03 PM
You would need to have some form of Standard Test both achedemic and perfomance based, and a group to administer those tests.
Silver Moon Forge
"Perfection is easier to expect, than it is to achieve"
Posted 26 December 2008 - 07:01 PM
Posted 26 December 2008 - 07:03 PM
There are also a number of colleges in the UK who give accreditation for 'smithing.
However sadly anyone can call themselves a Master Blacksmith with little chance of them being challenged on their ability.
The original line to Master 'smith was: apprentice (usually indentured to a Master 'smith for five to seven years, payment being made to the 'smith in the early years,) then Journeyman for a number of years, travelling around learning different skills as they went, they usually then set up their own 'smithy and when experienced enough they were recognised as a Master Smith usually by the WCB and they were then allowed to train apprentices etc.
One of the spin offs from this was that a 'smith had to be capable and have worked for many years before being officially recognised as a Master of his Craft. Nowadays with modern communication available, skills can be learnt and mastered much quicker, although the manual dexterity can only be achieved by practice and execution over a number of years.
Posted 26 December 2008 - 09:02 PM
"Nothing we make will ever break."
Posted 27 December 2008 - 01:55 PM
The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths do offer an awards scheme. It is funny that they choose to use the term 'Fellow' of the company and then define that term as a 'Master Blacksmith'.
They have three levels of Fellowship - Bronze, Silver and Gold.
The requirements for Bronze are as follows.
The Bronze Medal is intended for Blacksmiths who have evidence to show that they can produce articles significantly above the standard normally associated with decorative and general blacksmiths. In addition to the skills achieved at the Diploma level, the applicant should be able to show that he or she is conversant with all forging techniques.
The commissions should include larger forgings than required for a Diploma and would be expected to include work in the public sector such as ecclesiastical commissions. These may have come from the private or public sectors and may include restoration work but a Bronze Medal would not be awarded on the basis of restoration work alone. The work should show individual influence on design with less input from external sources than required for a Diploma. A wide portfolio should be available to support the application and be representative of current projects.
Often at this level an amount of team work may be encountered, especially with the larger commissions. If this is the case it must be demonstrated that the applicant is capable of performing all the skills and techniques used in _making_ the piece(s) examined. If the applicant's main function is to manage the team then only a Company Award (see below) will be considered.
An applicant must supply photographs of his or her work and if satisfactory the work will be examined by two Master Blacksmiths.
No fee is required from applicants for this award.
Holders of a Bronze Medal are titled "Master Blacksmiths" and may use the letters FWCB (Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths)
You will notice that design plays a part in the qualification.
I have no input as to what I think of the title of 'Master Smith' or the skills required to get it.
I am glad the position exists as I feel it is something that we all can strive for - even though that may be like trying to find the gold at the bottom of the rainbow.
Green you grow - ripe you rot!
Posted 27 December 2008 - 03:36 PM
Posted 27 December 2008 - 05:18 PM
I come from a woodworking background (the dark side), I served an apprenticeship as a Joiner (the "workshop" side of carpentry) and the definition of a master in my opinion, is someone who has mastered enough of the art/craft to be able to pass it on.
kinda like YODDA!! SOOOO!!
_i _n _s _e _r_t_ am I (forgive me Mark) Asprey am I. Or Frosty, Glenn, Jymm H, Gerald B, mike T, or whoever masters it for your needs. One way to surely start an argument is to take 10 blacksmiths in to a room and start by saying "the only way to do this is_ _ ". Because, like wood, what you KNOW to be the truth about wood or iron today, will make you a liar by this time next week. Every job/process is different, everytime you do it, if it wasn't , it wouldn't hold your interest the way it does.
My family were Coopers for 840 years, in the same location, so I am a big believer in tradition. Formal trade qualifications are every bit as valid as a degree to become a doctor/lawyer or any other profesion, but let's put it into perspective. Today how many of us ARE profesionals at this craft (granted on this site a lot, I know) and need the protection of a guild, as a Joiner I never did any turning, the turners guild did that, the "job security" of guild membership is not as relevant today as it once was. In this economic climate I'm not so sure it should be that way, but then even my wife tells me I am living in the wrong century, she says I'm a child of the sixties, and then qualifies that by telling her audience it's the seventeen sixties, so what do I know!
It's not over...Untill we WIN!!!
Posted 27 December 2008 - 08:26 PM
Posted 27 December 2008 - 08:37 PM
If I look to our craft, that of a blacksmith, a diligent student can acquire the skills of the craft in 2 to 3 years; but what then?
Having the skills alone does not create the master.
A group of musically competent individuals can form a band and cover other bands original songs – but how far will they progress. A band that can compose and play will go further. Bands that can play, compose and perform well on stage will go even further.
In fact some well known popular music type bands were limited to 3 or 4 chords (basic skills) but were able to progress up the charts through popular composition and performance alone. Where a concert musician may have a lot more musical skill with their instrument but lacked performance or composition skills.
Period reproduction and repair gives rise to a certain percentage of craft-work, but original designs are being sought after by more and more patrons.
And so to the tenuous balance of skill vs design.
Perhaps the ‘Master’ is one who can frame a good design with exceptional skills.
How did the term ‘Master’ come into being? I don’t know – perhaps…
1.) Self promoted with a view towards advertising and bringing in customers (possibly over the smith down the street)
2.) A marketing ploy with a few blacksmiths clubbing together to protect their business in a given area by forming a guild. Thus allowing for a little price fixing and exclusivity.
How would it go - “The ‘New’ smith just arrived isn’t an IFI master smith – so I don’t know the quality of work that you can expect… I on the other hand…”
3.) A need arose to guarantee that a particular smith (or group of smiths in a given area) had met a certain standard in his (their) training and therefore the client or patron should be able to expect reasonably quality work.
Posted 27 December 2008 - 10:03 PM
"jack of all trades and the master of none".
Posted 27 December 2008 - 10:14 PM
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