Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Defining the Smith (part 3)

Part 3 of the article 'Defining the Artist Blacksmith'
These are only the rough edits of the article as it was written. The full finishe text is being posted up to the Ontario Artist Blacksmith Association web site and available HERE.

On Production Methods:
There are obviously other methods of taking the modern raw material - lengths of industrially produced mild steel bar, and converting these into objects, be it practical or decorative in nature.
At one end of the scale will be the Welder. It is possible to purchase industrially manufactured elements, both structural and decorative, and assemble these pre-made pieces into a larger construction. More stress has been placed recently on the technical skill of welding through recent changes to the Ontario Building Codes. Obviously this type of work requires no direct manipulation of the metal in any form whatever. With care and a good eye, pre-made elements can be combined into effective designs, however this work is simply not Blacksmithing in any form.
On a level of complexity, the next step would be that of the Fabricator. In this process, some new elements are created by working metal stocks while cold over standardized jigs or using bending machines. These elements may be combined with the same industrial elements mentioned above. The results may be decorative elements that are distinctive to a workshop, but most commonly are repeats of standard patterns between individual objects. Once again, the forge is not used in the creation of forms, so this also is not Blacksmithing.
The most complex work will be that of the Blacksmith. Metal will be shaped hot from the forge. In the very best artistic work, each individual bar will be radically transformed from its original industrial shape. The true Artisan Blacksmith may work within a recognizeable style, but each object may be a one of a kind creation.
Be it a modern gas or more traditional coal fired, the forge remains the required heart of the true Blacksmith's method. Although technical ability is important to produce objects of quality, without a creative spark the work will not inspire the viewer.

Truth in Terminology :
We all know how retail stores and mere fabricators deliberately and knowingly misuse the technical language of the blacksmith to increase the value of their products in the eyes of the customer. Its also painful to admit that within the blacksmithing community itself there are those who have converted what were once technical terms into mere advertising copy. Unfortunately, this relatively recent trend has also been increasing in frequency. "Its just easier to tell them what they want to hear" is an explanation that is often given.

If those who have a genuine interest in the traditional skills of the Blacksmith are not informing and educating the general public on the true nature of this trade - who then will do this? All of us involved in the work of the Artisan Blacksmith have a double sided responsibility to both correctly use and continually define our specialized terminology to the public.
The first and quite selfish reason is that a clear understanding of the distinctive way that we work can only increase the perceived value of that work in the eyes of the public. Only a fool would continue to attribute Walmart prices to the skilled labour required to create a one of a kind forged metalwork.
The second, and perhaps most important reason to 'Say what you Mean, and Mean what you Say' is to uphold the tradition passed down to us from the ancient line of Blacksmiths that stretches behind us all. As part of a generation who had to re-discover so much from what had been an almost shattered tradition, may of us understand how easily that thread can be severed. As one line of Blacksmiths hands the hammer to a new generation of enthusiastic Artisans, it is crucial that the responsibility for preserving that hard won wisdom is passed on as well.

1 comment:

Ronan Jimson said...

Great Work!!!
this is a good link you can refer Art Collection


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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