Throughout history, iron and the ancient artisans who first discovered how to shape and control it, became the key influences behind the rise of every major civilization known to humankind. The blacksmith, as later generations came to call this type of craftsman, individually hand-forged the thousands of various metal objects that made-up the very equipment of everyone’s daily life. Soldiers, merchants, farmers, homesteaders and even other artisans, depended on blacksmiths to supply them with everything from nails, to swords, cooking utensils and andirons in their fireplaces. When any such item broke, the blacksmith repaired it. He also created and maintained his own shop tools – anvils, hammers, tongs, swages and all the special tools invented for specific jobs. Many experts suggest that the success of many early societies was owed to the level of skill held by their blacksmiths.
Down through the ages, as the array of tools and equipment becoming available made life a little easier, societies began to appreciate the comfort and convenience of better material goods. The village blacksmith became the key to beautiful houses, lighting appliances, luxurious household fittings, decorative gates, and balustrading. European cathedrals and castles in particular exhibited superbly detailed wrought ironwork through the 17th and 18th centuries.
The blacksmith had flourished as a major social force for more than 2000 years, his tools, and techniques needing no change. Then in the early part of the 20th century, his once pivotal role began vanishing under the weight of precision, speed and output capabilities of the machinery of mass production. While the demise of the village blacksmith was total, a small niche remained for custom-designed architectural work. The continuance of the art was due in part to such individuals who proved that no mere machine could replicate the artistry or capture the essential nature of blacksmithing. Then towards the end of the 1960’s a wave of nostalgia led a revolution of sorts away from impersonal industrialization back to the ways of our ancestors. The old and previously forgotten and rusting forges and anvils began to take their place alongside modern tools and equipment now used to enhance rather than replace traditional techniques.
Today’s Artist Blacksmith is once again proving to be the source of many unique forms of metal artwork that will stand the test of time to become the legacy for tomorrow. As society has become more affluent, the Artist Blacksmith is able to incorporate his vision into his well-established work formula based on design, function, and craft. Grand gates, beautiful furniture, and graceful architectural elements in homes and buildings have redefined the blacksmith as an artist for all ages.
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