The Blacksmiths Craft
The blacksmith’s craft is one of the oldest traditional crafts and is often referred to as the king of trades! Early blacksmith were thought to be operating as far back as two thousand years BC, functional items would be forged for cooking, hunting, hinges and fittings, and the tools of the other trades like stone masons the carpenters, tailors just about every trade relied on the blacksmith, this earned us the title of the King of trades.
Ancient blacksmiths forged the tools of war swords, arrowheads the pike, and the war hammer, weaponry, and armour were forged for campaigns all over the world by every nation. In today’s terms, there are only a handful of specialists forging weapons like swords and arrowheads for the purpose of re-enactment and for their place in museums.
Blacksmiths Craft examples in museums
Early decorative examples of the blacksmiths craft as pieces of wrought ironwork can be seen in museums like the Capel Garmon fire dogs found in a peat bog in Denbighshire they are estimated to be around 50 BC-50 AD they are of exceptional beauty even by today’s standards, they can be seen at the National Museum of Wales. Many other excellent examples of fine wrought ironwork can be seen at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and superb examples by the worlds leading and pioneering blacksmiths can be viewed in the ironwork gallery.
The V&A has some fine examples of the blacksmiths craft like ironwork by Jean Tijou, originally from Hampton Court one of the finest examples of blacksmithing i have ever seen, work by past masters like the Davies Brothers from Flintshire and the work of Robert Bakewell from Derbyshire all were leading figures in the blacksmiths craft. Modern or contemporary works have also been commissioned by the V&A like the bench made by Paul Allen and his nets course which has earned its place in the museum.
The work of the blacksmith today can be at times very similar to our ancestors forging functional items in a traditional blacksmith forge, a commission may arise for a boot scraper or a set of fire dogs. The next commission could involve the design and manufacture of an intricate pair of wrought iron gates hand forged in a traditional style with no modern process or cheats like electric welding. How to make blacksmithing a career, there are many colleagues up and down the country that teach blacksmithing courses this can be a good starting point some are full-time, and some block release,
Learning the Blacksmiths Craft
I can personally recommend the National School Of Blacksmithing at Hereford for learning the blacksmiths craft, the forging facility is excellent as are the attitudes of the staff, and the library for resources. Hereford also is the home of the nets course or new entrants training scheme, this was my preferred choice of training it taught me so many hands-on skills that can only be accredited to the skill of the instruction from Paul Allen. I left the nets course with not just the advanced skills of decorative forging but have made lifelong friends.
Private courses that are often performed on a weekend can really be useful in the initial gaining of knowledge and skills before maybe going on to a college for some further education, I will not give details of these as many of the blacksmiths who run these courses are friends or colleagues and there are too many to list, a simple web search will give you all the blacksmithing courses you may need to learn the blacksmiths craft.