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I came across this article today in the Minot Daily News about a 15-year-old blacksmith who sells his work, and I had to share — not because the story’s about blacksmithing (which is incredibly cool in and of itself) — but because it explains a tradition in blacksmithing that I’d like to see carried over to other crafts.  From the article:

“When I was 11, I saw a blacksmith giving a demonstration at Fort Union Historic Site,” the young smithy said. “I watched him work and he even showed me how to do some simple forging. I was so intrigued that later that year I convinced my father to buy me a forge and anvil from a retired farmer.”

One of my dearest friends is a blacksmith, and he spends a lot of his time demonstrating as well.  In fact, he introduced my father to blacksmithing, which is how they met, much as this boy met the man who demonstrated for him — and became a life-long friend. 

Taking in those interested in the craft and treating them as honored guests (instead of clueless noobs) is part of the blacksmith’s tradition — a part I suspect comes from the fact that it’s almost a lost art.  

But why wait until a skill is almost lost?  Why not show off whatever skill it is you have to your friends and neighbors, then encourage those who show interest to establish their own skillset?  Whether you’re a carpenter, electrician, machinist, or even just an experienced and enthusiastic DIYer, why not pass on those skills to those around you. 

At worst, you’ll make yourself and someone else happy for a bit.  At best you’ll spark an interest that’ll pass down for generations — and likely make a good friend in the process.

Working Iron by Hand [The Minot Daily News]


One Response to The Blacksmithing Tradition: A Pattern for Us All?

  1. Teacher says:

    This past Summer, I was rebuilding a two story wooden fire escape. I asked one of the high school girls that works at my business if she would like to help me. She would get a few more work hours of work and I told her I would teach her how to use some power tools. She said “Sure” as she wanted to study theater in college and set building was a valuable skill. Over the next two weeks, she learned how to use a circular saw, compound miter saw, reciprocating saw, speed square, how to properly use a claw hammer and pry bar, and about drilling pilot holes and using counter sinks.

    She had fun, learned some new skills and made some money. She’s in her first year of college now and has put her new skills to work helping build sets in her theater/drama classes.

    The benefit to me was I had a hard working helper with a good attitude. Plus I got the satisfaction that comes from helping someone else become more self-reliant and passing knowledge on to the next generation. I teach high school, but this type of one to one teaching is far more rewarding than the “baby sitting” I do on my regular job.

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