Frosty

New History Channel Blacksmithing program.

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I try not to fall into the "purist" trap but admit I was squirming through some of the more outlandish reality TV drama elements of this show....   That said, I grew up in and around Milwaukee so I probably had unrealistically high expectations for what the show could be.  I appreciate the underlying idea that the father is working on both a craft and a business that he can leave to his children some day, and when the show included some forging I found it interesting and informative.  Clearly the writers/producers and editors have a formula in mind when they pursue shows like this so something as simple as an empty coal bin or a routine failure of a capacitor can become major sources of drama if played up appropriately. 

Maybe the show is the catalyst that will cause someone to give blacksmithing a try and help preserve and promote the craft for another generation.  For almost a decade I found myself drawn to blacksmithing and made a point to wander into shops all over the world when I traveled (including particularly remarkable shops in Florence, Italy and Antigua, Guatemala) just to watch the smiths work or just soak up the ambiance that is unique in the lair of a craftsman...  yet I didn't pick up a hammer and try it myself until I stumbled into a "beginning blacksmithing" Youtube video and thought "why not give it a go" many, many years later.

 

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I alway appreciate skilled tradesmen. Milwaukee blacksmith aired a show this week were the crew built a steel bar for a man who loves Indian Motorcycles. This episode claims that Miles "hand cut" the 6 Indian logo plates with a plasma cutter, and how Miles has become unbelievably skilled hand cutting with a plasma torch ................ well they are right I dont belive it. There is no way in the world they were "hand cut." What's stupid is why make that claim? Anyone who works with metal fabrication can tell they were cut by a computerized cutter. It the logical thing to do, because of the lettering and detail in the logo. So anyone in the trade would cut them using a automated cutter........I don't understand why producers need to sensationalize stuff with lies. I dont under stand why Kent the father would read that false commentary and let it be aired. When a show starts saying stupid stuff like this it makes me want to stop watching. The guy on Iron & Fire claimed, you have to make a right and left handed side to make a set of tongs???????!!!!! REALLY!!!!!. Go ahead try that let me know how that works out for yah. Forged in fire claimed you have to forge weld at over 3000 degrees!!!!! Huh.....considering steel melts around 2800 Fahrenheit???? Maybe thwy were talking aboit "casting a blade. Lol. These crafts are appealing enought all on their own! Stop making untrue claims, it doesn't draw people to the show but actually drives people away. I have stopped watching several of these trade related reality shows because of the stupid drama from the cast and the lame claims made by the cast and producers. You have to be honest about the work and you have to find the balance and I think it should be 80% about the trade/craft and 20% about the cast. Either that or rename these shows Days of our lives-blacksmith edition, The young and the Restless forge knives.......ect if I want stupid drama I'll stay home and watch soaps.

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Yep.  I stopped watching MB after the second episode.  Stopped watching I&F after the first episode.  Only watch FiF if I record it on the machine so I can fast forward to the end and skip all the BS that goes into every other part of it.

MB and I&F really irk me because the people on it are allowing themselves to be portrayed as imbeciles for the sake of a paycheck.  If you want to be a clown, join the circus and preserve your dignity.

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If a blacksmith does a demo that is mostly entertaining and a little bit informative to grade school children (hello 90 second attention span) being "undignified," or are they playing to an audience in order to promote the craft long term?

The shows aren't written and produced to be documentaries for blacksmiths like the stuff on PBS (which also have a vastly smaller audience), they are written to entertain following a fairly specific formula that appeals to the largest possible audience... but still gives a taste of blade-blacksmithing and fabrication techniques to an audience that knows nothing about the craft.  If someone wants a specific in-depth overview of forge welding Damascus steel billets I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that most experienced blacksmiths are not using Forged in Fire as their primary "how-to" source for information vs. the advice of a more experienced smith, Youtube or a specialized forum like this...

I give credit to anyone who gets in the arena and puts their reputation out there on a show like this, a LOT of trust has to be put in the producers / editors of these shows who could make or break their reputation and business long term.  To 'purists' it may seem silly or undignified, but at the end of the day there are probably very few smart business-people who would not jump at an opportunity like this for both the direct paycheck and the huge promotional opportunity the show affords them.

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On 9/25/2016 at 0:39 AM, Frosty said:

Like you couldn't find a motor capacitor in Milwaukee or just buy a replacement motor till THE part came in, oh PU-LEEEEEEZ!

I was watching and thinking the same thing! Or switch out the motor...maybe it's just me but I have no less than half a dozen  extra motors laying around for and from one thing or another...hit up "Craigstlist or Overnight from ebay. Something! I thought they just wanted to set up the situation for the new hammer to come into the picture....

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10 hours ago, Yuppiejr said:

If a blacksmith does a demo that is mostly entertaining and a little bit informative to grade school children (hello 90 second attention span) being "undignified," or are they playing to an audience in order to promote the craft long term?

The shows aren't written and produced to be documentaries for blacksmiths like the stuff on PBS (which also have a vastly smaller audience), they are written to entertain following a fairly specific formula that appeals to the largest possible audience... but still gives a taste of blade-blacksmithing and fabrication techniques to an audience that knows nothing about the craft.  If someone wants a specific in-depth overview of forge welding Damascus steel billets I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that most experienced blacksmiths are not using Forged in Fire as their primary "how-to" source for information vs. the advice of a more experienced smith, Youtube or a specialized forum like this...

I give credit to anyone who gets in the arena and puts their reputation out there on a show like this, a LOT of trust has to be put in the producers / editors of these shows who could make or break their reputation and business long term.  To 'purists' it may seem silly or undignified, but at the end of the day there are probably very few smart business-people who would not jump at an opportunity like this for both the direct paycheck and the huge promotional opportunity the show affords them.

I happen to personally know 3 blacksmith's that were interviewed by THC for a new show..........they all said the same thing as did Rory May. It didn't take long for them to figure out they wanted a smithy with drama and that it was not about blacksmithing so much as drama seasoned with blacksmithing. Honestly what you said is the problem with the world......everyone is willing to sell out and everyone is willing to watch crap cause its the in thing. Why are we so willing to sacrifice things of high value just for money..........morals, dignity, self-respect, it's easy to sell out. I respect the people who did not. Those who stood tall for their beliefs, dignity, craft...ect. Shows like this provide a false representation of what these trades are about and those who have spent lifetimes trying to preserve and share what they have learned. I respect what they do and have accomplished but why, why, why say and do things that are a complete lie.........tongs have a right and left side? I hand cut these Indian Motorcycle logos, got to forge weld at 3000 degrees, I can't find a new part in one of the biggest cities in the US ie industrial capital.........just let the work speak......it's good enough........

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Why is someone (in this case a majority of TV watchers) having a different view than you a "problem?"  Try looking at it this way... shows like this are a "gateway" drug that are going to promote an interest in blacksmithing for some viewers that goes beyond the show that got them hooked.  PBS may have some great documentaries showing "the work speaking" without the drama, but the audience of people interested in watching is limited... until a new rush of aspiring blacksmiths decides to start seeking out more information on the topic and watches "real" documentaries on blacksmithing, takes a "blacksmithing 101" class and starts reading books on the topic.... someone who may never have discovered the craft learns a true respect for the craft and helps further the legacy.  To me the shows are more like a silly salesman who happens to be fronting a really good product... 

Making a go in small business is a risky proposition, if these shows can both promote the craft of blacksmithing and help a few blacksmiths with exposure + prize money that furthers their success and lets them invest in their craft is it a bad thing for the world?  I understand your concerns with the technical inaccuracies and some of the odd/implausible "problems" that come up, I cringed at the whole "this capacitor failed and the part can't be found" bit when I know that Marsh and Ness Electronics are a short drive away... but again, these shows are not intended for people who know about blacksmithing, it's for the sort of viewer that would wander into a Renaissance Fair blacksmith shop to hear the "smack-ping-smack-ping" as every other strike hits the anvil, smell the coal smoke filling the air because of a poorly drafting chimney and hear the hiss of steam as another S-hook made of mild steel lands in the slack tub.  Theatrics.

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To one extent or another, I agree with most of what's been said on this subject.

All my adult life, I've been "selling out" my engineering training, ... by giving people what they wanted from me, ... even when I didn't necessarily agree with their judgements and choices.

Rarely do you get "carte blanche" to build projects exactly as you would wish, ... unconstrained by time or budget.

B U T . . . . .

Dumbing down a presentation, to the level of the audience is one thing, ... and MISREPRESENTING that which you're actually doing, ... is quite another.

The "drama" of adolescent personalities and conflicts, is insulting to the intelligence of every viewer.

 

.

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Wasn't there a show on blacksmithin when CMT was a channel don't no why but I think the guy name was ken brown and they showed how to make a forge from a wheel barrow 

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jukejoint, that was Forge & Anvil with Alan Rogers.  It was made by the University of Georgia for Georgia PBS.  The copyright date is 1995.  I didn't think a lot of it but it did get some people interested in blacksmithing. Google it and you will find several sources.  It is now broken up into 5 DVD for $107.00 to $137.00.  I think that my VCR tapes cost about $50.00 back in about 2001  You can go to conferences or join an ABANA affiliate for a lot less and learn a lot more.  That way you get direct instruction, meet new friends that will help and maybe even give you some one on one instruction.

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On September 28, 2016 at 8:52 AM, Yuppiejr said:

 

Why is someone (in this case a majority of TV watchers) having a different view than you a "problem?"  Try looking at it this way... shows like this are a "gateway" drug that are going to promote an interest in blacksmithing for some viewers that goes beyond the show that got them hooked.  PBS may have some great documentaries showing "the work speaking" without the drama, but the audience of people interested in watching is limited... until a new rush of aspiring blacksmiths decides to start seeking out more information on the topic and watches "real" documentaries on blacksmithing, takes a "blacksmithing 101" class and starts reading books on the topic.... someone who may never have discovered the craft learns a true respect for the craft and helps further the legacy.  To me the shows are more like a silly salesman who happens to be fronting a really good product... 

I think this is a good illustration of what I see as wrong with a lot of society today.  While it seems logical and reasonably, the end result is, basically, something akin to moral relativism.

Firstly, a 'gateway' drug that could possibly maybe pique the interest of some homo sapien in the future?  So that justifies the actions of the writers, producers and actors in the show?  If that's the case, anything is acceptable because you have no idea what might catch someone's eye and inspire them to research further.

Nobody is saying that the show needs to be a hard-core documentary like PBS does.  It's not an either/or proposition.

Secondly, and this is admittedly a pet peeve of mine, we don't need "aspiring blacksmiths".  I've heard this for as long as I've been into smithing and I've never understood this fear some folks have.  Blacksmithing isn't going anywhere.  It's not a dying art.  With the advent of the internet and youtube, there is more information available now than at any time in the history of humanity.  We don't need to coddle newbies on the forums for fear that they might go away and never smith again.  It's just not going to happen.  There will always be people interested in smithing and they'll generally find information and inspiration just like people were able to do back in 1980..... only it will be far easier because it's just a mouse-click away.

Theatrics have their place, but so does honor, integrity, self-respect and honesty.  If we throw those to the wayside, what's left?  I have no problem with the crew at MB wanting to earn some more money by getting on air, but problems start cropping up when I see them acting like they are. 

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VaughnT - I would find it fascinating to watch the interaction between you and Kent Knapp if you shared your opinion that he and his family lacked honor, integrity and self respect (your words) directly to his face.  These shows are entertainment, plain and simple, they are not billed as documentaries or they would be called... documentaries! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.  You have your right to have an opinion about the quality of the show or the work... but, with due respect, I'm not buying the 'decline of modern society and traditional values' argument from someone who is so willing to question a man's honor and integrity in a public forum of that man's peers semi anonymously.  It's a big leap from talking about technical errors in quenching a blade or plasma cutting indian logos on the show... 

 

Edited by Steve Sells
Near personal attack removed

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I have watched a couple of the shows hoping to see some decent content and have been mostly disappointed.  But the broken down power hammer was the final straw.  As others have said changing that motor out would be at most a 2-3 hour job and a motor big enough to run that little giant can easily and cheaply picked up lots of places in any North American city.  As well the air hammer was already in the background while they were going on about the broken down hammer. 

It is too bad that these shows feel they need all the drama to sell the show.  And even more disappointing is that maybe they are correct.  

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It's the producers ad writers who have to throw in cheap drama to sell their product, not the MB folk. MB has been in business a long time, going on what, three generations now? It's the people trying to sell a product made by an old OLD formula that have to resort to cheap tricks. Seriously the most creative programming on TV for decades have been commercials, the programs are just placeholders till it's ad time again.

So, tell me if we assumed for some reason you let a production company make a "reality" show in your shop. Would you allow them to add a little contrived drama, say a burnt capacitor being a life and death emergency if THEY bought you a new self contained power hammer?

What really rattled my cage was the obviously producer/director horseplay. How many of you who grew up in a shop would let someone ride around on your back or stuff them into a barrel? Nobody there is missing a finger, eye or other obvious body part and even Pop Kent's bad shoulder isn't as big a deal as it's made to be. I guarantee none of those kids would do something so STUPID is to jump on each other's back for a wrestling match on the shop floor! Pop would give them both a good tarring even at their current age.

I guess having watched TV all my life I don't expect much of value. If you sit down expecting some hopefully entertaining empty meaningless crap you won't be disappointed when that's what's on. But think what a REAL TREAT it is when something good is on! Woo HOO I learned something! Sure I have to look it up to find the real meat of the subject but it's something.

At least MB isn't complete empty crap, a metal smith will recognize the good parts and the often very skillful end products. I let the meaningless "Hollywood" BS roll by. Sure I roll my eyes at some of it but then I take a look at some of their shop equipment and forget the idiocy. I wish I lived close enough to know the Kents, I'd just LOVE giving them friendly coffee shop crap about the show.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

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On September 30, 2016 at 4:35 PM, Frosty said:

MB has been in business a long time, going on what, three generations now? 

Would you allow them to add a little contrived drama, say a burnt capacitor being a life and death emergency if THEY bought you a new self contained power hammer?

What really rattled my cage was the obviously producer/director horseplay. How many of you who grew up in a shop would let someone ride around on your back or stuff them into a barrel? Nobody there is missing a finger, eye or other obvious body part and even Pop Kent's bad shoulder isn't as big a deal as it's made to be. I guarantee none of those kids would do something so STUPID is to jump on each other's back for a wrestling match on the shop floor! Pop would give them both a good tarring even at their current age.

I guess having watched TV all my life I don't expect much of value. If you sit down expecting some hopefully entertaining empty meaningless crap you won't be disappointed when that's what's on. But think what a REAL TREAT it is when something good is on! Woo HOO I learned something! Sure I have to look it up to find the real meat of the subject but it's something.

At least MB isn't complete empty crap, a metal smith will recognize the good parts and the often very skillful end products. I let the meaningless "Hollywood" BS roll by. Sure I roll my eyes at some of it but then I take a look at some of their shop equipment and forget the idiocy. I wish I lived close enough to know the Kents, I'd just LOVE giving them friendly coffee shop crap about the show.

Frosty The Lucky.

 

As I understood it, MB has only been in business for a few years.  It's the father in the show that started the shop and has his kids working for him - an attempt to create a legacy for his family, but no legacy from past generations.

Would I allow some contrived drama?  No.  Of course, it's easy to say that since I'm nowhere near being in that situation, but I do feel confident in the answer.  "Contrived drama" is just another way of saying "Lie".  If I allowed them to twist me around like that, I'd be lying to the viewers of the show and myself.  Because the show is billed as "reality" there is an expectation of truthfulness, in my estimation.  Maybe I'm too rigid in my world view, but I can't find any reason to sell myself for the cost of a new power hammer when they're already paying me to be on the show as the main talent.  The legacy this father has chosen for his kids is as some kind of circus sideshow freaks, and that's where I really have an issue.  Seems to me he made a deal with the devil and put image, integrity and dignity on the chopping block.

Definitely agree about their running around the shop, jumping on each other's backs and doing generally juvenile stuff.  There'd have been some whipping going on if that had been my shop.  Way to easy to get hurt around a shop and zero tolerance for anyone increasing their odds with blatant stupidity.

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And that goes to show me I should've applied a little Google Fu before I said that. The old man has been smithing since he was 19 but bought out and opened Milwaukee blacksmith 10 years ago.

So, there's a more understandable reason to allow a TV show to video a "reality" show in your place. They're only 10 years open and operating on commissions so they don't have the cushion a multi generation operation would normally have. What I've seen come out of the shop is competent but at 10 they're still a start up. In their shoes having aspirations of success you bet I'd accept free publicity. I'd have to pay a lawyer to read the contract carefully explaining it as I go so I could set some ground rules about what would NOT happen or be permitted, what is a MUST, etc.

Think of being a new outfit with a pretty large shop to pay overhead on, working commission to commission WHILE training the kids. The condenser blows on your power hammer motor and a producer says. "Make a big deal out of it and we'll buy you $10,000 power hammer as a bonus." (Don't get excited, I just pulled $10,000 out of the sky, I don't recognize the new hammer nor know what one that size runs new) The point being if I only  have to pretend a $3.00 available anywhere part is some all consuming door closing emergency in exchange for a serious upgrade in equipment I'd wail and gnash my teeth in a suitably and convincing manner. People are going to ask me of course, I'll shrug and wink after mentioning the non-disclosure clause in the contract.

I didn't see the LG broken down farther than the switch box and in but one shot. Want to bet it was running again in an hour IF it was ever down? Of course TV time and real tie are two different things. Or should I say "Reality" time?  Shoot it could've been a complete put on "acted out" after hours.

I don't think anybody in the civilized world has to have what Hollywood means by "reality:rolleyes:" explained. Their sole reason for being is to pretend in the  most entertaining manner they can invent.

On the other hand is your reputation. Do you want to be known for keeping your word, honesty? You bet I do. On the other hand very few people think my silly tales are real even if they "could be." Does that make me a liar Oh yeah, so is Melville Shakespear, etc. etc. If you want to take definitions literally any fiction is a lie. TV is fiction even programs that are pretending to tell the truth, the latter I consider liars. Lavern and Shirly, Mork and Mindy, Reality TV, etc. are actors rather than "liars" paid to pretend to be what they're not.

Frosty The Lucky.

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The reason why I like watching shows like this one, and I enjoy all the chopper~hot rod shows just as much.Is this, for one I'm an ornamental welder fabricator for many years and I always enjoying seeing how different shops will have different jigs and equipment and different ways of doing things. I really liked that Octopus chandelier they made with the flatten pipes and the suckers were a nice touch too. I really dig the big industrial screw press they have and I only wish I had a shop with that much room.... Also he gave me an ideal about drumming up business by selling a bunch of stuff on commission and just hit a bunch of different shops and see who would be willing. That's smart and keeps money flowing in.

Another thing I can relate to was when his oldest son was making a mountain out of a mole hill by over-analyzing the pickguard for the Metal guitar build with all his radius math mumbo jumbo when all he really needed to do was make a cardboard template! It reminds me of when I was a young man and I would get too meticulous and make work. And it's something you have to correct young smiths often about.. Yes it's good that you care about the quality of your work but it's foolish to spend hours or half a day trying to do a 30 minute project. Time is money! Don't waste it dang it.

I can understand traditional smiths being more interested in well smith work. But there's something to be said for learning to make Lambs tongues and the cool inverted cap end from molding cap rather than those cheap gaudy cast iron lambs tongue is something to be proud about "see pic". And to do the layout work on a  grand staircases and the scroll work for the rails is a challenge for any smith. It's not a part of the craft that should be look down on but rather knowing that the art of blacksmithing would certainly be lost to a degree were it not for the simple ornamental wrought iron folks that keep the forges burning. My two cents anyways probably bout what it's worth lol. :-)

 

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