Mary Hackett is a PhD candidate in Fine Arts at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) where she is examining and mapping the physical forces involved in blacksmithing processes through sculptural practices. Hackett began as a jeweler and metalsmith in the early 1980s; over the past six years, her interests have expanded to include blacksmithing. A metalsmith is someone who works and shapes various types of metals, where a blacksmith’s main metal is wrought iron or steel. She is a co-founder of Blacksmith Doris, a blacksmithing group just for women in Melbourne Australia (“Doris” is an old British slang expression for a plain woman). Blacksmith Doris has been operating as a “side” group that is part of the Australian Blacksmiths Association (the Victoria chapter) for the past five years and aims to give women a place to learn and practice blacksmithing in an all-female environment. A group of eight to ten women meet once a month, creating a Doris Day, at the ABA’s barn to make and learn from and with other women. Some Doris-es enjoy learning traditional blacksmithing techniques while others just come to hit the metal, happy to see where that process will take them.
What We Talked About
- Mary went to college for jewelry and silversmithing, after which she attended a master’s program in “Jewelry Engineering”. She has recently started a PhD program that involves researching the interaction of smithing with the dynamics of the arms and hands.
- She currently teaches silversmithing at a TAFE (Technical and Further Education) College in Melbourne Australia.
- Recently, in 2014, she traveled to Helsinki, Finland, at Alto University to make a speech and write a paper about the quenching process of a steel ball.
- Mary and Kirstie Stewart co-founded the “Blacksmith Doris” group in 2009.
- To become a Blacksmith Doris, you need to be a member of the Australian Blacksmith Association. The Doris group meets near Melbourne, Australia, once a month.
- The Australian Blacksmith Association in Victoria meets every two weeks. An annual membership is $70 (AUD).
- She gives three points of advice to women who are just starting out with blacksmithing :
- Don’t let society’s norms frighten you; there were female blacksmiths in the middle ages!
- Try not to be a women pretending to be a man while blacksmithing. Just be yourself.
- Think about what blacksmithing can do for you in the 21st century. Don’t pretend you are maker in another time – be a maker for the current century.
- And lastly Mary talks about the differences between the industrial and handmade pieces, and the consequences of these two approaches within the environment in which we live.
Mary’s Website – http://maryjhackett.blogspot.com.au
Blacksmith Doris website – http://blacksmithdoriswomenblacksmiths.blogspot.com/
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