Archive for April, 2013

So long, little forge

Saturday, April 27th, 2013

Blacksmithing tools and equipment really do have a life of their own.  They are so robust, that they’ll usually serve several generations of smith.  We don’t so much own them, as look after them for a time.

My little rivet forge was a great starter forge. I enjoyed working on it, but its time with me has come to an end.  My friends and fellow Willowbank student Aaron is keen to set up his own blacksmith shop, and I think this will get him going nicely.



So long little forge!  It was a pleasure working with you.

Open House

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

With the first year of school behind me, this weekend was time for Willowbank’s annual Open House.

The open house is an opportunity for students to showcase their work, for friends and family to see what goes on here, and for prospective students to come get a feel for the place.

Early in the planning process for this years open house, I’d offered to bring my forge and do a blacksmithing demonstration.  Had I known how cold it was going to be, I’d have volunteered to give tours of the house instead.

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The toque  – not very fashionable, but necessary.  Surprisingly, a forge doesn’t keep you that warm!


This was my first time doing a public demonstration (outside of friends and family coming to my workshop), and I really enjoyed it.  I’m amazed by how many people were drawn over to the display, and how long they stayed watching.  There must be something about incandescent iron that appeals to people!

I have a feeling that, if one stays active in blacksmithing for long enough, public demonstrations will inevitably become part of what you do.  I’d certainly be happy to do another. Preferably in the summer…

Stone – Part 2

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

We’ve just completed the much anticipated second session of stone carving classes with Danny Barber (of Smith & Barber).

What an excellent, excellent class!  I’m just loving working with stone.  I wish I’d had time to forge myself that set of tools before now, but that’ll come soon enough.  This is certainly something I want to do more of down the road.

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This class has been a great way to cap off the school year!

Bring on the Willowbank Open House!

Something ancient

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

I had a bad day yesterday. A very bad day. I won’t get into it just yet, but it was the sort of day that leaves you questioning everything  – the meaning of life, and so on and so forth.

Today, I really just needed to be among friends.

By a happy coincidence, it was the start of our next session of forge classes at Willowbank.

I don’t know what it is about fire… There must be something about this force of nature, that’s buried deep in our (mankind’s) past, that makes it very comforting to the psyche. In my opinion, there is little in this world thats as therapeutic as staring deeply into a fire.  I didn’t pound on much metal today, as I just didn’t have the concentration. But I can’t think of any better place to have found myself at this particular moment in time.


Therapeutic fire

Touching the past

Monday, April 8th, 2013

Now *this* is what I had in mind when I thought about heritage conservation.

We’ve just had a historic finishes with instructor Walter Furlan at Willowbank.  And that class largely revolved around Walter’s biggest interest, which is window restoration.

During this class, I tackled repairing a sash from a 200 year old wood window!

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This window was constructed from old, first growth lumber – the quality of which just can’t be matched in this day and age.  And the joinery was so finely done, that the joints were still a ‘furniture fit’ (a secure pressure-fit, with no glues or fasteners), two centuries after it was made.

It’s humbling to lay your hands on something like this, and an absolute privilege to be able to do work on it.

Thanks so much for the opportunity Walter!