Guest Intro paragraph
Matt Jenkins is a Winnipeg, Canada-based blacksmith and owner of Cloverdale Forge. He got his start in blacksmithing by spending college summers at a Canadian national park doing historical re-creations for tourists. He later studied at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. He now works days as a mechanical engineer and nights and weekends in his own shop. Last summer he took first place in Drawing and Design and the World Forging Championship in Stia, Italy.
What We Talked About
- Matt followed in his father’s footsteps by working summers at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site as a blacksmith doing historical re-creations for the public. He recalls some of the funniest questions people asked him and the jokes his dad used to play on the tourists.
- Matt received a degree in mechanical engineering, but also studied at the John C. Campbell school in North Carolina, where he still teaches one week every summer. This year his class will take place in September.
- He works two full-time jobs. During the day, he’s a mechanical engineer for a custom metal manufacturer doing computer aided drafting. On nights and weekends he’s in his own shop, Cloverdale Forge, on his family’s farm. His shop is 400 square feet and he’s looking at doing an expansion soon.
- Matt teaches classes at Cloverdale and has 4 planned for this summer doing basic beginner blacksmithing. He’s tyring to build a blacksmithing community and an appreciation for the art in a fairly isolated location.
- Last summer, 2015, Matt won 1st place at the World Forging Championship in Stia, Italy in the Drawing and Design competition. The contest theme was trash cans. His drawing can be seen at http://www.biennaleartefabbrile.it/il-campionato/classifica-2015/
- Matt’s trip to Italy was part of a larger European trip he took with two other blacksmith friends. They attended a conference in the Czech Republic where Matt won the “longest spike competition” in part of a Blacksmith Triathlon. They also visited Germany and blacksmith friend Gosta Gablick. “It’s fun traveling with other blacksmiths because they look at the same weird things that I do,” Matt says.
- Matt is also a part of an annual art event in Winnipeg called “Nuit Blanche” where artists create and display their works overnight. “We pull the forges into City Square and build something,” Matt says. “In our area, the only time you experience blacksmithing is at a fur trading post, so to show people it’s not just repair of muskets and traps, I bring the art to them on that night.”
- Matt uses many outlets to advertise and sell his products including a business website with a blog, Facebook, Instagram and Etsy. The Etsy site works well for advertising and exposure, Matt says, but doesn’t bring in huge sales.
- If Matt could learn from one blacksmith, dead or alive, he says he would choose the “nameless guys” who’ve been doing it forever. “Everyone says the artistic stuff, but the art comes from me. I want to learn the skills.”
- Web Page: cloverdaleforge.com
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/cloverdaleforge/
- Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CloverdaleForge
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/cloverdaleforge
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cloverdaleforge/
- Stia Drawing and Design website – http://www.biennaleartefabbrile.it/the-championship/regulation-design-contest/
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