Episode #21 Mark Aspery “For Every Hammer Blow There Should Be a Matching Pencil Stroke”

An in-depth interview with Mark Aspery. Originally from Great Britain he came to the US in the 1990’s.  Known for his teaching and demonstrating skills of traditional blacksmithing techniques, he travels the country as the “Mark Aspery School of Blacksmithing.” Mark is the author of three books, and is the current editor for ABANA’s magazine “Hammer’s Blow.”

Mark at Adam's Forge Punching demo by Mark Aspery Mark Aspery Teaching

What We Talked About

  • In a Great Britain high school, most of his of time was spent learning in the hands on metals class and that is where his love of moving the metal started.
  • He went straight from high school into an apprenticeship for a union engineering company as a blacksmith. After three years, the company started taking more jobs requiring a machinist and needed Mark to be a machinist apprentice instead of the blacksmith apprentice. Mark left the company and blacksmithing until the 1990s.
  • We discuss the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths and their levels of accomplishments.
  • He went from Britain to Bermuda and then came to the United States to work for a company called Outward Bound in Colorado as a mountaineer guide, then “met a girl,” got married, and decided to get back into blacksmithing via becoming a farrier.
  • The Colorado School of Trades School asked Mark to be their blacksmithing instructor.
  • He was the Educational Chair for the California Blacksmiths Association.
  • His shop is a small space of around 14 square feet with a coal forge, one Swedish Sodafors anvil, two power hammers, an automatic treadle hammer (KA 75 hammer), and a fly press.
  • Pricing strategies are part of what he teaches, beginning with the four parts of a job – design, manufacture, finish, and installation. He walks us through a hypothetical situation of working with a client from the beginning.
  • Mark thinks there are three types of blacksmiths: an artist blacksmith, industrial blacksmith and the general blacksmith.
  • He talks about self-publishing his three books, how long it took to write the first one, and how he sells them himself.
  • Some upcoming book ideas that he would like to write.
  • He gives some great advice to beginning blacksmiths – for every hammer blow there should be a pencil stroke as well as practice, practice, practice.

 

Guest Links

You can learn more about Mark Aspery and his work on his website, his YouTube channel, the California Blacksmiths Association YouTube channel, and in this NPR interview.

 A Big Thank You to today’s sponsor – Nimba Anvils, www.Nimbaanvils.com

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3 thoughts on “Episode #21 Mark Aspery “For Every Hammer Blow There Should Be a Matching Pencil Stroke”

  1. Hi Victoria, enjoying the podcast. Knowing some of the CBA smiths you’ve interviewed make the question and answer sessions even more interesting. I think at the end of Pheromone Feb. you asked listeners if you should keep interviewing men smiths as well as women and I think you should. This format of asking smiths questions is unique, keep up the good work.

    I’ve overheard the pros in CBA talking about how the hobbiests are the real rank and file of the organization and make up most of the membership. Maybe you would consider interviewing non professional smiths as well, “Amateur April” perhaps. How people got started, missteps, good teachers and programs, and the direction the craft takes you if you’re not trying to make a living would be a great listen.

    Looking forward to the next ‘cast.

    1. Hi Mike! Thank you for the encouragement and I do plan on continuing to include male blacksmiths. I like your idea about interviewing “amateurs” or hobby blacksmiths that’s a great idea! Thanks!

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