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I Forge Iron


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Old Rasputin, well his ghost to be more precise.

I am a 3rd year art student from FL interested in starting a self sufficient community for artists and intellectuals. With this goal in mind I am on the quest for information and experience.

Learning how to produce most of what is necessary to live, is a little daunting, but with the help of a couple like minded individuals we should manage, and hopefully flourish!

During my first two years of college I worked with a carpenter, and enjoyed the work greatly, creating functional things is absolutely wonderful!

Being a blacksmith has been a bit of a fantasy of mine for quite some time. Just the thought of being at the forge and creating things out of fire, might and various metals is very appealing. Now I think its about time to start learning what I can.

Any and all help/advice is always welcome.

ROG 10.31.07

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Yes it does ;) . There are actually a few good google books about household implements from the turn of the century if you'll look in the blueprint section for resources you'll find them. Or just do the search yourself. Might give you a good idea of the types of items that you might need to learn to make. And once you see it, it's no more complicated than taking a ball of clay and hitting it with a hammer until it's right. Good luck and let us know what specifics we can help out with. Check out all the blueprints we have here and you'll notice quite a few little tricks for when you start hitting hot metal.

Thinking about straw bale construction for the houses?

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Please don't let this be a downer; but only a cautionary tale so you can avoid problems!

So starting a commune...learn from the mistakes made by others! (Ask around the arts and crafts community should have a lot of folks who have had some experiences in communes!) Keep a notebook of what kinds of problems others have had and think of ways around it. Try to find groups that have succeeded for a long period of time, ("The Farm" as mentioned in "Spiritual Midwifery" is one), and figure out *what* makes them different.

I've been invited to be a member of several projects like this but when I investigated they had no real world planning to deal with things like small group politics, natural disasters, or final dissolution. Most of them were "you get to contribute all you can to my dream; but if I don't like the way things turn out you are out with nothing!"

One retired lady in poor health would have been quite happy for us to build stone and log structures on her farm for a "crafter's village" but of course she would hold title and upon her death it would go to her kids in California; who would be perfectly happy to sell it to us for the high price our improvements had made the property worth or if we could not raise the money to someone else...

Remember you can usually "make" or you can "demo" trying to do both at the same time is hard to impossible!

Making a living by your arts and crafts: take as many small business courses as you can!

Self sufficiency---to what level? Having people spend 16 hours a day spinning so you can weave one pair of pants that you could buy a better one for a couple of bucks in a thrift store? (seven miles of hand spun thread in a typical saxon pair of pants)

No medical insurance? Most crafters are *one* shop accident away from bankruptcy. I come from a long line of Ozark small farm folk and all of them have worked to get an outside job to help out the farm.

And may I commend "Country Blacksmithing" by Charles McRaven, recently republished under a different title as a book that deals with using smithing for items that will be used in day to day living.

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Due to being a blacksmith, I have been approached many times over the last 50 plus years about joining up with different groups of people who want to be self sufficient.
For some reason people relate to a blacksmith when considering how to live a life style of fundamental living practices.
In my life time, I have found out that getting along with people groups is equated to how well you all can equally split up the pie. I found that some people say they just want their piece of pie, others say aw-shucks, I don’t want any pie. But in the end they all want the whole pie!
I found out that splitting the pie is not as simple as it should be. I never became a full fledged member of any group. But they seem to make me an honorary member.
I did do some bartering with different folks and visited with some of the groups at their
Just this last week I was asked to join with a group of self sustaining folks.
I think it is a great idea until the pie has to be cut.
It seems as though peoples needs and wants create expectations many times more that what their input is to the pie! But, over time I found out that they all want “all of the pie”. There is only so much pie to go around.
I have known people who tried unsuccessfully to deliver their own children with an undesirable end result of the child dying from infection. I could go on and on about catastrophic events that should have and could have been avoided had people not tried do things they were not qualified to do.
I believe to be self sustaining with or with out a group of people is by degree only, and for only a certain amount of time. And it will last until key players get upset about the pie distribution, or the government finds something that indicates to the government that is not getting its piece of your pie.
I feel that Thomas Powers entry pretty well describe some of the issues accurately. Hopefully his experience should give someone who is considering this practice a heads up on some issues to overcome in order to be successful.
Be safe!
Old Rusty Ted

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