Why Blacksmithing?

What on earth would possess someone, in this day and age, to go into blacksmithing?

The Blacksmith in Hornbæk (1875)That is one heck of a good question, which I often ask myself…

As mentioned on the welcome page of this site – I felt my life was being wasted sitting at a desk, doing unimportant things.  Not that I like to ‘toot my own horn’, but I’m actually a pretty smart guy.  I excel at most things that I’ve tried, learn new things easily, enjoy learning new things, and love working with my hands.

My interest in blacksmithing started many years ago.  After my grandfather passed away, I took an interest in the family tree research he’d done.  That led me to starting an Ancestry.com account to further his research.  If you haven’t looked into your own family’s history, you should.  It’s fascinating.  It’s also quite amazing to look back multiple generations, and still be able to recognize the faces in those old photos as your family.  To see a certain ‘look’ that your 2 year old son has, in the photo of your great-grand uncle that you never met.

In any case, back to the topic at hand … While doing this family tree research, I started looking at old census records, which list a persons occupation.  My family, going back many generations, were farmers, miners, shipyard workers and blacksmiths.

Farming – well, unless you inherit land, nobody just ‘starts’ farming.  Mining – I’m clostrophobic, so that’s out.  Ship building – not much of that going on around here.  Blacksmithing, eh?  Sounds interesting….

I love working with my hands, using tools and making things.  Metalwork does seem to have that level of permanence that I’m looking for (a gate or railing should outlast a PowerPoint presentation), and will give my kids something to point to and say “my dad made that“.

Sounded right up my alley, so to speak.  But the biggest questions remain: is the work important, and can someone make a living at it?  I believe so, on both counts.

Most smiths get into the craft as a hobby, as I have, but there are quite a few who have been able to do it as their full-time gig.  Success is by no means assured, but it is possible.

Is the work important?  Yes, it is!  I personally want to get into conservation / restoration, which I believe is very important work.  But in a larger, more philosophical sense, I believe that it’s vitally important for our society to keep skilled, hands-on craft work alive, and to teach it to our children.  Far too many of the current generation lack even the most basic knowledge of how to build and fix things, or how to use tools.

Well that was a bit more long-winded of an explanation than I intended….

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