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
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” Mary Angelou
Joy (aka Joy Fire) Brenneman
Where in the world are you?
How did you start blacksmithing? Did you take classes?
I went to college in Santa Barbara CA and was majoring in studio art. I got into some jewelry making and casting toward the end of my time there. In my last semester a friend told me about this place in town where a couple of brothers had started a custom metalworking business called Santa Barbara Forge and Iron (http://sbforge.com/ – check out their website, these guys are rad!) I went to check it out and immediately fell in love with everything about it. At the time it was only the 2 brothers and one other guy working there. I talked to them and pretty much begged them to just let me hang around and sweep the floor or do whatever it took just to be there. They kindly obliged, and eventually started teaching me. One of the brothers specialized in the forging aspect of the business and started to teach me more and more. So I worked there as an apprentice (for free) until they had taught me enough to be a valuable part of the team and started paying me! I’ve never taken any classes and learned everything either on the job or at the shop working on personal projects in my own time (which my boss was generous enough to let me do). I ended up working there for 3 years after college, and really enjoyed everything I learned. In 2014 my partner was accepted to a PhD program at the University of CA, Irvine. So I bid a very fond farewell to the guys and moved with my partner to Irvine in September. After some searching I eventually was hired at a shop in Long Beach. The owner has been a fabricator all his life, but specializes in a very different kind of metalwork. There was no forge there, and most of what he did was TIG welding stainless steel, at which I had almost no experience. So since starting there I have learned a lot of new skills, like TIG welding, running a mill and a lathe, also how to use Computer Aided Design programs. My boss also let me bring in and set up my own forge and anvil! However, my role there has changed a lot since I started. My boss is actually in the middle of starting a new business and doesn’t need as much fabricating as much as someone to help him run the company. I like working with him and he likes having me, tells me he sees a lot of potential in me. I am learning a lot of things that I hope will help me run my own business one day, but it has been hard. I love making things, I’m not so passionate about ordering supplies and making spreadsheets, attending meetings and calling people. So right now I am focusing on improving my business skills and learning as much as possible about running a small business. One day I WILL have my own shop and my own tools and will forge as much as I want! So for right now I’m still learning and growing as much as I can, keeping the dream very much alive!
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?
Forging large pieces under the power hammer. I really enjoy making furniture and coming up with interesting joinery.
Do you have a favorite tool? What is it?
Either my 3lb Hofi hammer or a power hammer, which I do not have (yet!) I also really enjoy running the mill. I know that’s not technically blacksmithing, but I want to incorporate machined aspects in my forging designs.
What is the worst thing about blacksmithing?
Not being able to do it!!!
Are you a member of a blacksmithing association? If so, which one? What does it do for you?
I am a member of the California Blacksmith association. It provides me with connections with other smiths, a forum to ask questions, and helps me to feel like part of a larger community.
Do you have a website? If so, enter it here
Do you have anything else you would like to add?
One of my most important philosophies regarding blacksmithing is to bring it into the modern age as much as possible. It is important of course to preserve the old skills, but that’s not where my passion lies. I think the future of forging is to come up with new ideas and to incorporate new technology as much as possible. That, to me, is the real future of blacksmithing, it’s something I want to work toward and encourage as much as possible. I have such an incredible love and passion for metalworking, and I am going to do great things one day!!!