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16 y/o here, (love the forum by the way) and I have an urgent inquiry. I've been interested in blacksmithing for several years now, and I'm just now asking my parents if they'd let me be an apprentice for the local family-owned smithy. My mother had no problem with it, but my dad did, and here's where the story becomes tricky:
My father describes blacksmithing as a, and I quote, "dead trade", and that proper smithing has been replaced with metal fabricators and machines. I've tried explaining to him that blacksmiths can produce dimensions and textures with metal that machines simply cannot, but he won't listen.
And here's where you, my friends, come in. To try to get an upper hand in the argument, I'm asking of you to do some sort of research that may help me in the argument. I have researched all that I can, and I will continue, but a little help is appreciated.

Thanks!
Greg

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I have been self employed as a blacksmith for 17 years. I do decorative ironworks, no blades, or horseshoes. Check out the FEW pictures I have on my website, so much work , a whole career never fotograft , So it is. See WWW.ARNOLDANVILBLACKSMITH . COM. I hope your dad will see that this is not a dead trade, There is a market for fine ironworks,and you are very lucky to have an opportunity to apprentice, Good luck!

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My father a tinknocker by trade (sheet metal fabrications, ect.) said the same thing about his trade, but he had an excellent theory- "The trade only dies if people stop doing it." He also knew that he could make anything better than a machine, and that the human touch was essential especially when making things for older houses not entirely perfect. Off the rack products fit off the rack houses, but for the older places you need to customize.
Also you may want to tell him it's a hobby for now, and not a career that way he may be a bit more comfortable knowing you're not putting all your eggs in one basket.
Good luck!

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I have been self employed as a blacksmith for 17 years. I do decorative ironworks, no blades, or horseshoes. Check out the FEW pictures I have on my website, so much work , a whole career never fotograft , So it is. See WWW.ARNOLDANVILBLACKSMITH . COM. I hope your dad will see that this is not a dead trade, There is a market for fine ironworks,and you are very lucky to have an opportunity to apprentice, Good luck!


Wow Rusty, is that all your work? That's amazing! I don't think i'd ever be able to create something that grand. If that doesn't help the kid out, I don't know what will.
No machine can ever do all that!

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Rusty- Love your work! Like Jim said, that is some grand stuff.

Jim- Love the advice. I think you were right about the hobby thing, my father said if it starts as a hobby, then an apprenticeship is well within my reach.

Stewart- I currently reside in Northwest Florida.

Thanks for the help, guys!

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First youi need to researech just how you get to the point where you can make any money at all at the forge. How will you learn and how will you get the tools needed and the space? How will you eat and all the many things it will take for life to go by while you invest that amount of time? Hobby smiths make hobby money. For a lot of things that we do to make a living it takes a fair amoiunt of money and an investment of a couple of years of our time to see much in the way of an income. There are a lot of smiths making really good money at this craft. But there are a lot more that will begin this with dollar signs in their futre and find thqat they do not have the conviction to take all the steps needed to be successful. The smiths that make a living might be hard pressed to start fresh again in this economy and make it work. Think about where you might be in five years. and How you are going to get there, no matter how you wish to make a living. Form aplan and review it with your parents, but be realistic about what you propose.

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You choose to post on IForgeIron, a blacksmithing site that has over 21,000 members from all over the world. As I type this reply there are over 100 members and guests on line viewing the site right now.

Blacksmithing has been going on since the 5 th generation from Adam, the fellow that met Eve in the garden. There are many hobby blacksmiths, as well as many who support their family in whole or in part by blacksmithing. There are those that have taken blacksmithing and metalworking into specialized fields such as tin smithing, copper smithing, gold smithing, welding, machining, tool and die work, etc etc. There is no magic answer to convince your father of anything. Instead, have him go with you to a blacksmith gathering, or to a individual blacksmith's shop.

As was stated before, tell him you want to do it as a hobby. He will bring up the cost and you CAN get started in blacksmithing for under $20. You only need something to hit with, something to hit on, something metal to hit, and a fire to get it hot. A ball been hammer will work, any metal with a mass of 50 to 100 pounds will work, discarded metal from the alleys and dumpsters if free, and a forge is nothing more than a container to hold the fire. Do a search on this site for the 55 forge,

Go slow and do not push your father as he will dig in and stop everything. Instead pull him in the direction you want him to go, by asking for his assistance one small piece at a time. Can you take me here to study, there to learn, etc. Ask for his help in making a forge etc. Ask him to help connect the garden hose to water down the area around the forge so there are no fires. Fill a 5 gallon bucket with water and place it next to the forge (in case of fire) as well as have a fire extinguisher handy. Wear ear and eye protection at all times. Wear cotton clothing, leather shoes, and other personal protection equipment. Insist that he wear ear and eye protection if he is near the forge while you work. YOU are responsible for his safety as well as your own safety. All this goes a long way in showing that you are responsible.

We have had blacksmiths as young as 6 (six) years old that build their own fire and forge (under supervision) so it can be done.

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Greg,
First let me welcome you to IFI. Second, please understand that any discussion with your father should never be an argument or looked at as an argument. Your father is still your father and believe it or not, he has your best intentions at heart.
I am glad that you have an interest in blacksmithing because as JimsShip's father said, (paraphrased) "It will only die if we let it die."
The next time you are out with your father kindly point out to him all the ironwork that you see and note that things of that caliber weren't made by machine. If you have the chance to make something small, do so and let him see it to appreciate it.
I think that your father is concerned about your future as most fathers are. Since you are only 16, and forgive me for saying "only", you may be able to approach your father as doing blacksmithing as a hobby and as you progress in your abilities, along with some possible sales, he may warm up to the idea. Do not try to deceive him or go behind his back as this will spoil any progress.
Old n Rusty has some beautiful work that shows what a blacksmith can do. There are many successful blacksmiths on this site. I see by your post that your family has a smithy. This is a great start. Be patient with your father, we can be kinda stubborn sometimes.
Mark <><

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There has been a revival in the of art of blacksmithing beginning about 1970. The Artist Blacksmiths Association of North America was begun in the early 1970's; it has quite a large membership. I've had my blacksmithing school running since 1970.

http://www.turleyforge.com

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Greg: Your father hasn't looked into the world of blacksmithing today. Take him to a blacksmithing conference if you can, and let him see all the different sides of blacksmithing on the internet. It's transformed from your fathers view. I've included a picture of a water fountain projects for my home. I wouldn't say this type of blacksmithing is dead at all.
post-7487-0-46398300-1313811020_thumb.jp

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If your dad means guys in overalls sharpening plows and fixing stuff for dirt farmers for pennies, yeah, that trade is pretty much dead outside the third world, and good riddance. You will never get rich demoing for farm museums. (Ask me how I know).

If he means high end artists with complete modern fab shops doing custom gates and railings for millionaires for $300-$3000 a linear foot, well, that trade is alive and well, for those who can do it. Have him look at Dean Curfman's or Danger Dillon's stuff, for starters.

And of course, there is everything in between.

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Hello from a 19 year old smith of five years experience.
First, I would highly stress the importance of not letting this get you irriated with your dad.

I would approach the sittuation by collecting a number of websites of professional smiths. Artisans of the Anvil, Spirit Iron Works, Mark Aspery's website, Jeff Fetty, John Winer, etc, etc. Do not approach it as a "look dad I'm right your wrong" slant either. Just show him the stuff they've made stressing that they are full timers. All full-timers start somewhere.......apprenticeship.
Also collect information on colledge degrees in blacksmithing. Whether or not you want to pursue blacksmithing through colledge, show him that there are real colledges out there that offer degrees for blacksmithing. Tennessee Tech and I believe Illinoise State University both offer degrees in blacksmithing. I am sure there are more. This will help make blacksmithing legitimate. I don't know where you are at Greg but try to get your dad to take you to Quad State Conference in Spetember. It is in Ohio! Look up Southern Ohio Forge Council and check out the Quad State thread on this forum.

Use me as an example! I am an up and coming smith and after five years of work I have a 20x30 shop and a legally recognized company the Fiery Furnace Forge Blacksmith LLC.

Good luck!

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While you are researching, look up what a certified welder in you area makes, and how many jobs there are available. Getting the welding tickets can be a stepping stone to get to blacksmithing, and it can be a backup plan. Having a plan with viable alternates is useful for convincing arguments.

This is not a case of you or your dad is right, this is a case of your dad wants you to be a success with your life. You are feeling the pull of independence, and your parents are still responsible for you. You are at a time when you have many opportunities available to you. See what is available, and what can help you along your way. If you become a sole proprietor you will need some business skills as well as smithing skills.

Phil

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oh yeah, dont let age get you down, i am 13 and today at my first craft fair i sold 1000 dollars worth of iron work! age is NOT an issue!

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I find few things more troubling than suppressing a young persons desire to learn, I don't care who they are. If in fact blacksmithing was a "dead trade" than what would the shop that wants to let you apprentice there be classified as??....they must be profitable enough to let you in. For that matter why would this forum and the members here even exist? Narrow and short mindedness has killed more dreams than we can imagined. The fact that a person of your age actually wants to work nowadays ( no offense to your generation), should be commended and encouraged not held back. I have always believed that a young man or girl if they are inclined, learn to work with their hands first, no matter what line of work they eventually direct themselves to. If you know the basics or a little more about carpentry, plumbing and electrical as well as welding and other metal fabrication, you have the skills that will help you become independent and perhaps make a very good living from if you choose.
I have been blessed with parents that told me from the beginning that I could do anything I set my mind to if I had the will and determination to follow through. I have followed that advise all my life and have never listened to anyone of the negative people that would have discouraged me.....and there were many. There alway will be those that think about doing something and then there are those that actually do it..........which one are you going to be?
Now that I find myself getting close to the half century mark and in business for nearly 21 years making furniture as well as having a full time iron working shop, I am very thankfull that I was encouraged to be one of those..... that actually do it...........

Good Luck and don't be discouraged

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Follow your heart my friend, its a great compass.

All the best and good luck on your many future ventures.

Peter

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Gregory Check out FABA http://www.blacksmithing.org/ there are meetings up in your area a great chance for your Dad to see all that is going on in the industry. It has many sides, blacksmithing has lots of ways to make money at it. It is not falling by the way side In my area I am the only person that still hand hammers I have my supporters of my clients and word of mouth for good work goes a long way. Clients will wait 6 months to get a piece. They understand quality. One of the big tool chains Northern Tools within the last year started caring blacksmithing supplies Tongs, hammers forges. Why would they do that if it was dead trade. I feel it is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the country. There are new schools opening every year all over the country.

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Just for the sake of argument, let's say that blacksmithing as a trade is dead or dying (again just for the sake of argument folks!). Does that mean it is not a worthwhile pursuit? Who is to say you have to make a profession out of it? Most of us don't do this for a living, just some money on the side and the satisfaction in knowing how to make something with your own two hands. Technology has taken a lot of work, and therefore a lot of character, out of making things - useful or decorative. I can think of no better character building exercise than manual labor, especially to make something beautiful. When you understand the work that goes into the art of creation you understand the VALUE of what we as a human race have wrought. Too many take it for granted.

Besides, you're sixteen. You've got plenty of time to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life. Learn something in the meantime!

Good Luck!

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Whatever you do don't fall out with your Dad, I'm sure he has your best interests at heart even if he is perhaps "uninformed" on this occasion!

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