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I Forge Iron

My first year of blacksmithing


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Hi to all,

It's been quite a while since I have posted, however I was keen to jump on and provide a bit of an update at the end of what has been my first year of blacksmithing.


(The forge as at July 2018; A year on since I first set it all up)

I've been extremely luck to have had such a convenient working space over this period of time, allowing me to come and go as I please. I have tried my best to make maximum use of it around what has shaped up to be a very busy year, and whilst it's true that I haven't been able to be totally commit to improving my skills, it's remarkable how much more confident I have become as a result of the time I have been able to commit. 


(Along with learning the craft itself, I have also tried to restore and build tools as new additions to the forge, admittedly with varying degrees of success!)  

Based upon what I have experienced this year, I thought I would share with you a couple of the most important things that I have personally observed and taken away in this short space of time:

1. There is so much to learn!  As with all new things, it is quite daunting (and at times a little overwhelming) when taking that initial plunge into something you know nothing about and could easily get wrong. I read a very entertaining article recently highlighting the four distinct phases of learning to code competently (The Hand-Holding Honeymoon, The Cliff of Confusion, The Desert of Despair and The Upswing of Awesomeness). It was apparent to me that these phases could quite accurately apply to the learning of any new skill, and I found myself relating to them in regards to my own blacksmithing. Learning the basics was a honeymoon period when I was in somebody else's forge and under one-to-one instruction, however I soon found myself (as we all must eventually) on my own at the 'Cliff'. The things I knew I didn't know were only a fraction of the vast amount I didn't know I didn't know! Despite this, nothing has been too difficult thanks to the support of others, which leads me on neatly on to my next point...

2. Help is all around you.  It became apparent to me very early on that if you are proactive and humble enough to seek it out, help is always at hand. In the internet age, even if you are geographically isolated, there is always somebody to troubleshoot with about anything, and the blacksmithing community (both in the UK and abroad) is incredibly passionate and forward leaning. 

3. Creating anything form scratch requires dedication.  For all of the benefits of the modern world, I do still think it is a double-edged sword*. Creating very basic things in the forge over the past year has made me appreciate just how very useless I am as a human being and how reliant I have become on people selling me quick cheap fixes in supermarkets and on Amazon. An alternative to something that I had slaved over on the anvil could quite possibly have been picked up on the internet for less than £1, without the need to invest time and energy into anything at all! For the first time in my life I got the sense that the world was more interested in me as a consumer than it was giving me the skills to create my own solutions. This is not entirely true of course. Skills and knowledge are out there for those of us that are willing to take the time to look, and if I choose an off-the-shelf solution out of convenience then perhaps I only have myself to blame! 

*Pun apologetically intended. 

4. Blacksmithing is rewarding.  My final (and perhaps over-arching) learning point is that despite the difficulty in starting out, I have stayed with it, and this is largely because the positives consistently outweigh the hardships. I have absolutely loved creating things for friends and family as gifts this year, and have made modest progress every single time I have picked up the hammer. There is something incredibly empowering about 'doing it yourself' and having something to show for your hard work, however intricate, at the end of the process. 


(Twisted garden hooks that I made for my grandma's hanging flower baskets; She was really pleased with them!)

Thanks for reading and sticking with it! I would be incredibly interested to hear your thoughts and opinions on any of the above and look forward to where the next year takes me.


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Well said Patrick!

Item #3 reminded me of something.  There's a song by Bruce Springsteen called "Reason to Believe".  The lyrics have a great subtlety to them.  It's easy to miss that the alienated and cynical narrator is realizing that people do things that aren't necessarily logical, or profitable in the face of adversity because belief/faith provides enduring meaning to justify the struggle.

Business success may depend on cynical thinking, but meaningful personal success is often measured differently.

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Patrick, your very well-written dissertation would strike a chord with just about everyone on this site. You have looked back on your first year with great clarity, realism, and the degree of humility that we all feel at some time being involved in this great art.

I particularly enjoyed your last point; the positives do outweigh the hardships. People often say to me, don't you get bored doing demos day after day. Not at all. Every time you pick up a hammer and create something, there is a great sense of achievement and it's a constant learning process.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi Patrick! Where abouts in Essex are you based? I'm from Benfleet, SS7, so if you every fancy meeting up to swing a hammer and have a beer please let me know! Keen to meet more local blacksmiths as I'm very new to all of this.

The advice in your post make for interesting reading so thanks for that!


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  • 3 months later...

Patrick: I'm sad to have to inform you. Jon was so despondent about not hearing from you he sold everything, moved to South America and is now the director of the largest chupacabra rescue in Paraguay.

Missed him by THAT much!

:rolleyes: Frosty The Lucky.

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On 1/21/2019 at 7:39 AM, Jon Kerr said:

The Chupacabra's are doing great though!

Do you need special tools to float their tooth?

13 hours ago, HojPoj said:

But the goats? Not so much.

Hmmmmm. Maybe we should start exporting the mean ones and bucks in rut. Goats are mostly sweet playful critters but a mean one can put a hurt on you faster than you'd believe. And NO they don't aim at your butt, they go for knees and hips. The mean ones are just plain nasty dangerous. Suck them dry . . . :)

Frosty The Lucky.

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