Want to try blacksmithing? The arty type, not the horseshoe type? Here are some pointers.
I've been blacksmithing for over 20 years now and Im often approached by students and would-be apprentices for advice and help to get started. Being more artist than traditional blacksmith, I thought that the best way to help was to create an informative blog and build resources and information for budding artist blacksmiths.
This may sound obvious, but there are two things you need to consider if you want to be an artist blacksmith:
1. Could I be an artist?
2. Could I be a blacksmith?
If the answer to both of these is no, but you are still keen, then don't despair! With time you can learn both. I would say that in order to become a blacksmith, you need to at least be handy and practical, preferably with a good eye for detail. It's a myth that you need to be super strong, though you will need to be able to swing a hammer!
To become an artist is a more vague concept, but in my personal opinion, you need the ability to draw. You needn't be Leonardo Da Vinci, but you need a way to express ideas you have in your head on paper and one day show them to clients. Still interested? OK. Read on......
Many blacksmiths I have met over the years are not great when it comes to sketching their ideas. Some basic draftsmanship gets them by and allows them to chalk the designs they need onto the workbench, but if you fall into this category I would say that you may be heading more towards blacksmith than artist. Is that a bad thing? Not at all. Most of those I've met with limited artistic skills are excellent technical smiths, better than I, so maybe look more towards developing techniques. How? You can start by reading my finding training post here.
If you love to draw and have an ability to design, but don't know the first thing about blacksmithing, don't think you have a mountain to climb. You too could consider finding training, but my advice is to focus on developing only the skills you need to accomplish the designs you wish to create. For example you may benefit form some basic metal fabrication skills, welding and cold forming or perhaps a weekend or week basic blacksmithing course to allow you to get the feel for the material.
For more information, read my post on 5 tips to becoming an artist blacksmith