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I Forge Iron

The Work of a Portuguese Master Blacksmith

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Lourenço Chaves de Almeida was a Portuguese Master Blacksmith, born in 1876 and deceased in 1952. He wrote some notes called Memórias de Um Ferreiro, or "Memories of a Blacksmith". These notes were published in 2007 in a book containing some pictures of his work. I have scanned some of them and would like to share them with you all.

From what I recall, he never had any apprentices that stuck with the art. The Second World War making iron scarce did not help. As a consequence, his skill was lost, as was that of many other master blacksmiths. This post is meant to remind us all of the amazing skill that once was.

These are going from my least preferred to most preferred...

Coffer and Key of the City of Coimbra.

Main Chandelier of Coimbra's City Council, drawing by A. Augusto Gonçalves.

Chandelier from Dr. Bissaia Barreto's house.

Pompeian-style chandelier, commissioned by D. Genoveva de Lima Mayer.

And my personal favourite...
Roman Lectus in Pompeian style, for D. Genoveva de Lima.

I need to track these pieces down and try to photograph them, but I don't think you're allowed photographing inside of where these are kept.

Hope you all enjoy it!


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Thank you for all the comments! I am very glad to See Lourenço's work appreciated outside Portugal as well.

One of the most interesting things in reading his memoirs is that not only did he have an absolutely wonderful mastery of the technical part of blacksmithing, but he was also trained as an artist. It makes me feel that we have not only lost the technical part of blacksmithing, but also part of its cultural and artistic heritage. If my memory serves, Lourenço travelled to France and other countries to learn more about this artistic side.

I mean, Roman lectus, in Pompeian style? That makes me wonder what other styles there were. It makes me wonder whether these are wrought iron aesthetics, or whether they were more generic artistic styles. I'd love it if an artist by training, who happens to have an interest in blacksmithing, could provide some input on these issues. How much are we, the blacksmithing community, missing of the artist part of "artist blacksmith"?

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