Episode #23 “Mary Hackett -The Australian women’s blacksmith group called Blacksmith Doris”


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.

Doris Days in Australia (640x362) Hot Metal in Water Mary Hackett Tablecloth

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 Hackett portrait Angus Hackett photographer Pomegranate (427x640)

Guest Links

Mary’s Website – http://maryjhackett.blogspot.com.au

Blacksmith Doris website – http://blacksmithdoriswomenblacksmiths.blogspot.com/

Australian Blacksmith Association (Vic) Inc – http://www.abavic.org.au/
A Big Thank You to today’s sponsor – Nimba Anvils, www.nimbaanvils.com


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3 thoughts on “Episode #23 “Mary Hackett -The Australian women’s blacksmith group called Blacksmith Doris”

  1. Great interview. Just to clarify, the association Mary talks about is not the “Australian Blacksmith Association”. It is known as ABAVIC, ie Australian Blacksmith Assn of Victoria. It is a state group, not a national association. For anyone who is interested Victoria has three groups – ABAVIC, Waterside Metal Art (who run an annual festival) and Mont Delancy Blacksmithing group.

    There are groups/assocations in most states in Australia. ABASA – Australian Blacksmith Assn of South Australia, Tasmanian Artist Blacksmith Association, The Artist Blacksmiths Association of NSW, Blacksmiths Assn of Western Australia and Australian Blacksmiths Assn Queensland. There are several other associations for farriers as well. Some groups run annual events, e.g. the South Australian group had an inaugural event at Mannum late last year (refer to their *18 newsletter) which was well attended by interstate participants. They are hoping to make it an annual event, similar to a hammer in. For more information please visit http://www.artistblacksmithsa.org.au/ and read through the newsletters.

    BTW as a woman who is starting to dip her toes in to blacksmithing waters if I can get my husband to teach me more) I love what you’re doing and appreciated finding out about Mary’s group and page.

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