Thursday, March 12, 2009


Woo. 46 degrees F feels pretty good. The other day I walked outside with a shovel for the first time in 4 months to dig into the ground instead shoveling snow. With several feet of snow stocked up all melting at once, water suddenly becomes the next obstacle – a refreshing obstacle. Mud Season. Digging shallow trenches to redirect water away from the blacksmith shop is a joy. Not only am I keeping the water and occasional ice from invading the shop, but I'm also having the opportunity to think like water and earth. It’s all so loose and flexible – attributes I’m trying to strengthen in myself. I’ve been tying to distinguish wants from needs, and trying to let go of “wants” that aren’t beneficial as much as I can. This is tricky business in some ways. Sometimes I short myself and try without a need on accident – and things build up inside of me, much like the water in the trenches that is stuck in a concave area. Eventually the water spreads and deepens as more rushes in without an outlet, creating a large puddle, until it either spills over the concave area and finds a route down hill or soaks into the ground. It creates an obstacle for farm operations – making life for everyone a tiny bit more difficult. And when I have my personal “build-ups” I think it becomes an obstacle for the 9 other people I’m living and working besides every day. To help resolve this, I want to take better care of myself, or at least be more careful with digging trenches to relieve my “build-ups” so people don’t have another obstacle to work around, or get their feet wet in. Peoples’ energy is contagious and I want to contribute more to positive energy.

Anyway, enough with my attempts with a hippy-dippy analogy. I’m psyched about the blacksmith shop this year. I’m giving 3 introductory workshops in April; two of which will be three day sessions. Then on May 2nd my neighbor and friend, Rob Hudson, who is probably the most skilled blacksmith I’ve ever met (ranked best knife maker in the world in 1999) will be giving a workshop on how to make a fire poker while delving into the history of iron ore and how blacksmiths have been utilizing it for thousands of years. On top of that, Ralph Sproul from Iron Bear Forge, who is also a highly skilled blacksmith with a deep and all round handyman mentality might be coming up with a portable set-up to ad another workstation for participants as well as assist and be a resource of vast mechanical knowledge.

On top of the group workshops I’ve been doing a lot of private lessons on a weekly basis. Last weekend I had three separate lessons - two boys who are 13 and another who is 15. I see in their eyes what I feel when I’m looking at a hot piece of iron. Excitement and Possibilities! I’m always fascinate by what students come up with to make. Steel is definitely a route for some people’s genius to come out. I swear there is some sort of blacksmith gene. When thinking about all of the people I’ve shown the craft to or demonstrated for, one out of ten are wholly fascinated by it. There’s something very mystical about it. Glowing hot iron is out of this world - unlike any material the vast majority of people get to experience in a life time. When hot, it is elegant, fluid, and malleable. As it cools it gradually becomes harder and tougher to work, durable, sometimes brittle, and at times has the potential to be razor sharp. A piece you're working on can be like digging a ditch in New Hampshire’s granite filled earth (which can be very enjoyable), and other times it’s like floating down a river. A full mental experience, and not far from a total body work out as well.

The dates for the upcoming workshops are:
April 10, 11, 12, 12:30pm - 4:30pm Basic Blacksmithing
April 17, 18, 19, 12:30pm - 4:30pm Basic Blacksmithing
April 25 1-4pm Basic Blacksmithing
May 2 1-5pm Fire poker making w/Rob Hudson

Sleeping and eating arrangements can be made for the 3 day classes or private lessons.
Check our website for dates later on in the season and check regularly as workshops develop through the year.

Happy forging,

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