view counter

The blog serves as a collection space for a variety of musings and observations of the world around us...through the use of sketches, drawings, photos, images and videos...intended to be shared and to stimulate thoughts, ideas and inspirations...douglas wittnebel

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Lost and Re-Found Art of Blacksmithing, a post from GenslerOn

The first time I put on the heavy leather apron and thick, fireproof insulated gloves worn as protection by all blacksmiths, I felt invincible from heat. The sheer amount of wide, cushiony layers these items contain made me feel like I could walk through fire and not feel a thing. It was like becoming a puffy but updated version of a Ghostbuster. I felt more than ready to partake in my very first blacksmithing class.
Much to my surprise all the protective gear I was wearing was not enough to guard against burns. I learned this the hard way when I let one of my glove encased forearms linger near the heat. In a matter of nanoseconds, the heat singed my forearm hair, and the smell of burnt hair hung in the air.
A blacksmith's tools. Image © Douglas Wittnebel
The sheer amount of heat it takes to mold and shape metal is one of the most incredible things about blacksmithing. I recently took my first blacksmithing class with the Crucible team in West Oakland, Calif. As someone who paints, builds furniture, and even tinkers with robots, I consider myself to have a strong understanding of both the challenges and wonders intrinsic to DIY activities. But blacksmithing left me with a more profound appreciation of the sheer amount of energy it takes to transform raw steel into something useable. The intense heat and look of the massive and heavy gas powered forge, that glowing reddish orange light reminiscent of the sun, imbues a sense of respect into the novice student. Part of this respect stems from fear of getting burned, while the rest arises from the awe you feel standing so close to the source of energy that makes working with steel possible.
Blacksmithing challenged me by forcing me to think and design what it is I wanted to make while I was simultaneously heating the metal and hammering into shape. It’s akin to drawing or sculpting in space, except rather than working with relatively benign brushes and pencils you’re relying on the heat from a 2,000F + degree forge to turn one of the hardest substances on earth into a malleable, shapeable material...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Grand Canyon Sketches 2009

Grand Canyon Sketches 2009
a selection of sketches from the Grand Canyon