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I Forge Iron

The "Art" of understanding Blacksmiting

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The “Art” of understanding Blacksmithing

: Steven Bailey 2013

Blacksmithing, (correctly known as Forging) the art of turning a: cold, hard, metallic substance into something: organic, flowing and beautiful (Unless you’re like me). There is no feeling comparable to lighting up that old coal forge, cranking your blower and forging a hot piece of metal into some practical form or art piece. In a since you are an alchemist; you’re combining the four elements, earth, fire, wind and water. It turns us into a scientist. As most of us probably learned in school, science is a “method” and if you don’t conform to this method you definitely know nothing about science. In reality that is the furthest from the truth.

  The definition of a scientist in the Oxford dictionary is “a person who is studying or has expert knowledge of one or more of the natural or physical sciences” “Natural or physical sciences”. What does that mean? Well, natural science would be Biology. We use and understand biology to forge organic shapes, like leaves or flowers. What is a physical science? That would be the understanding of physical properties of something, like metal. We understand the properties of steel, and how to heat treat it and temper it to make a useable blade. How else are we scientists?

  Observation is one of the largest parts of  blacksmithing. Without observation, we would not be able to see how out hammer effects the material we hit. We also observe others to learn from their knowledge and experience.

  Blacksmithing isn’t just observing, it is thinking outside of the box! Many a blacksmith meeting have I walked up to the show and tell table and seen some new contraption of  Mr.Dan Tull’s to make some sort of hinge or tool. This also makes us very ingenuitive. One man told me that “if you got 100 blacksmith’s in a room and asked them to build a nuclear reactor, and they had no knowledge of building one, they could build it within one week”.

  I just got back from a week long class at the John C. Campbell folk school, partly paid for by the blacksmith guild, and I had no clue what to do my article on. I drew up a little thingy but wanted to do something more. Therefore, I made this. I hope this helps you understand blacksmithing and realize your potential not only as a blacksmith but as a person and a scientist.

Thanks Ocmulgee Blacksmith Guild for the Class,

Steven Bailey

  “It takes a special breed of person to be a blacksmith. You have to love the way things work, be more stubborn than your material and engineer your way around problems.” 

  : Unknown

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