Blazing BlacksmitHERs are ladies that are forging their own path in blacksmithing and sharing their story.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” John Quincy Adams
Where in the world are you?
How did you start blacksmithing? Did you take classes?
I’ve always had an interest in smithing but not the farrier side of it. The artist and tool side for self-sufficiency is what interests me. My husband died about 7 years ago leaving me with a couple of kids under 10 to fend for. I had to learn lots of woodwork techniques as I live in a 19thC weatherboard and the maintenance is pretty full on. I can handle plumbing, motors etc but woodwork was not my forte. I taught myself, along with the help of friends, to build a new deck on my house in 2010. Since then I’ve added plastering, joinery, carpentry and cabinetmaking to my skills and thought it was about time to learn some metalwork techniques. In the meantime I’ve created a permaculture garden on my half acre block with a view to becoming self-sufficient within 5 years. Thus, I wanted to be able to make practical tools as well as beautiful things, so I took up blacksmithing in early 2014. I have attended a course with Ray Gard, Master Blacksmith in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. He says I have the passion so will probably be pretty good at it; I’d like to think so but we’ll see!
My background is professional winemaking for nearly 30years, business management and now secondary school teaching math and science. I’m 53 and busting to try some artist blacksmithing – I really can’t wait to master the techniques to give life in steel to some of my ideas! Maybe I was a blacksmith in a past life – don’t know!!!
Are you a beginner, hobby or professional blacksmith?
What is your favorite blacksmithing technique? Even if you are beginner, what do you enjoy doing the most?
I love everything about this craft. I really get off on trying a technique and being able to predict EXACTLY what the material will do. It constantly spins me out what you can get a hard and apparently unyielding substance like metal to really do, and I absolutely enjoy exploring this.
Do you have a favorite tool? What is it?
I love my anvil and hammers – they are the core of the craft for me.
What is the worst thing about blacksmithing?
Nothing at all – I just love it – even the dirty firework and cleaning up.
I’m a bit of a grub anyway so this is just normal for me!
Are you a member of a blacksmithing association? If so, which one? What does it do for you?
Yes – I belong to ABANA. This gives me a great global perspective on what’s happening out there as well as some fantastic practical plans to follow. I also belong to Blacksmith Doris in VIC Australia, and appreciate their support and regular contact. And now BlacksmitHER- I got excited when I saw this one!
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
I’m really passionate about this craft – it’s the best thing I’ve ever done getting involved in it. My teenage sons, family and friends think it’s great, and it has been really good for me in terms of keeping focus. I have a chronic illness (as does Bex Simon) that prevents me from working other than occasional part-time stuff and blacksmithing has been great in that it keeps my mind and body active. When I’m not working in my garden I’m working in my shop and that suits me just fine! The only drawback is that I can’t do hot work on fire risk days – something we have a lot of in Australia during our summer. However, I use that down time to plan, sketch, draw and organize so it can be an advantage also. All in all it’s been a bit of a life-changing exercise – haven’t felt so inspired for years!