I love the manner in which metal can be stretched and squashed and bent and twisted. The marvelous and varied forms it can take. The way it can embody not only the craftsman’s design idea, but other elements of her personality as well. In my work, I strive for graceful flow and sensuous surfaces. Simplicity is good. I want to see symmetry where it is a mark of good craftsmanship. Elsewhere, I don’t insist on strict obedience as long as the metal seems to be going my general direction. The best work is a collaboration between the resistance of the medium and the intent of the artist. When I am finished with a piece I want it to feel like a living thing that has paused ever so briefly under your watchful gaze.
The Blacksmith’s Progress
I have been blacksmithing for over twenty years.
In my twenties I lived in Florida and had a dear friend who’d learned the craft. I was more interested in illustrating and printmaking then but I spent a lot of time cranking the blower and watching him shape metal. A few years later in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, I bought an anvil and forge and set up my first shop in a small (8×8) springhouse next to the cabin I was renting. I didn’t know much and didn’t have too many contacts to ask for help but that didn’t stop me from trying. I made hooks and candle holders and things that moved in the wind. It was a different matter entirely when I moved to Connecticut and joined the New England Blacksmiths Club. I could go to meets where master blacksmiths shared their knowledge. I sat in the front row and sketched tools and processes, taking page after page of notes. Afterwards, I’d try to replicate some of the things that I’d been shown.
Since that time, I’ve moved steadily north, taking blacksmithing and welding classes along the way, upgrading my equipment and making the acquaintance of some amazing smiths. It’s still a magical thing, to heat a piece of metal and work it over the anvil until it takes on a life of its own.