3 Christmas Book Gifts for budding Artist Blacksmiths
This is my top 3, best of from my own extensive collection of blacksmithing books. I've deliberately highlighted ones you may not be familiar with but they are blacksmithing books that have a particular resonance for me, and they are all books that never seem to gather dust on my shelf, all bent with grubby blacksmith thumb marks.
As well as these three books there is clearly also a goldmine of books out there which have been read and reviewed many times, so rather than repeat, I have listed at the bottom of the page some useful sites where you can find great lists and reviews of blacksmithing books.
Best For Inspiration:
The Contemporary Blacksmith
Dona Z. Meilach (2000)
This is a huge book, packed with thousands of photos of all kinds of work ranging from traditional ironmongery to huge sculptures by artists from all over the world. The sculpture section is particularly good from my perspective and provides inspiration and ideas as well as just proving what is possible and how much variety can be achieved from just one material. There are also sections on architectural ironwork and 'The Artist Blacksmith Past and Present' which are a fascinating read.
Pricing: This is an expensive book! US $49.95 cover price, though second hand copies can be found. Even at full price, it is well worth having in your collection. (At time of writing I can find this in the UK for £25, so worth hunting around)
Best For Entertainment:
The Village Blacksmith
Ronald Webber (1971)
'Here's a health to the jolly blacksmith, the best of all fellows,
Who works at his anvil while the boy blows the bellows...' Words from 'Twanydillo', an early Sussex folk song, given in full with music in this weird and wonderful book. OK, so if you are interested in blacksmithing, this book is almost certainly of no practical help whatsoever BUT it is just the most fantastic read! With poetry, songs and anecdotes about smiths and great insights into the trade over the centuries in the UK, this will give a UK smith a grounding in his or her heritage, and to US and other readers it will be a fun and entertaining insight into the antics of the smith in old England. There are countless old photos, woodcuts and engravings, plus chapters such as 'The Blacksmith Priests of Gretna Green' and 'Horseshoes as Charms'. Written in the 1970s, the book ends in a chapter charting the demise of the craft, so for those of us in the process of keeping it alive in the modern revival, it is also quite heartening.
Pricing: I believe this is no longer in print but seems easy to pick up (at time of writing I can find it on amazon for $3 in the USA and 50p in the UK!! Well worth a read!! https://www.amazon.com/Village-Blacksmith-Ronald-Webber/dp/0715353632/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1468486706&sr=8-1
Best For New Skills:
Karl-Gunnar Noren, Lars Enander (2009)
Just as this book was written I was lucky enough to study for a week at Gransfors Bruk axe factory in Sweden where I learnt to make laminated knife blades and finally a high quality axe. Master Lars, a fifth generation smith, axe maker and knife maker made the magical processes of creating fine tools look easy. On the course, this book was our guide and, though it isn't a comprehensive how-to of blacksmithing, it very clearly talks you through making knives and axes and the heat treating processes involved. It is written from the point of view of a student asking questions and being talked through each steps, which makes it very accessible and entertaining. It is also a very beautiful book with fine illustrations and great photos. I helped Karl-Gunnar to market the book in the UK so there are a few sellers here where you can find it and it is available on smaller sites in the USA so I'd suggest googling it rather than Amazon where it is on sale at silly prices.
Pricing: Should be around £30/$40
If you can't find it, contact Karl-Gunnar in Sweden: http://www.ninor.se/kontakt/
My own book Artist Blacksmith Sculpture - The Art of Natural Metalwork (2016) is inspired in part by all of the above books, though it is a much less ambitious work. I wanted to keep it short and sweet and affordable, and give a flavour of what I do in as many images and designs as possible, and give some insights into the history of the craft and the view from other smithies. I hope you enjoy it and I always welcome feedback.
Price: £10.99/ US$15.99
You can find it on amazon at: https://www.amazon.com/Artist-Blacksmith-Sculpture-Natural-Metalwork/dp/1533105847/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1463652313&sr=8-1 (USA) and:
Blacksmithing Books - Reviews, links, lists and information pages.
Please send me updates if you'd like them added:
A great compilation of reviews by Canadian artist blacksmith David Robertson
A list of 5 best learning blacksmithing books:
An amazing resource of FREE old blacksmithing books to download!
Bookshop of the British Artist Blacksmiths Association:
Artist Blacksmiths Association of North America book reviews: