Killin it with fire!! or Don’t Lick the Hot Metal!!

Inspiration is an allusive creature.  What it is that inspires or drives us sometimes changes; or perhaps occasionally we change and forget how to be inspired or where to look for it.  Perhaps we get caught up in the mundane cycle of our daily lives and life just seems to become a business transaction of deposits and withdrawals.  Or is that just me?

Perhaps it’s not you that falls into that trap, but needless to say I go there.  Ive been there for too long.  A place where the things I enjoy seem to have taken a back seat to everything else in life.  A place where some of those things become so unrecognizable that they aren’t even memories anymore.   Not today.  Today I took a day to invest in Paul.  Today was my first full day blacksmithing class.

What did I learn today?  Not only did I learn that I love smashing metal with a hammer, but I re-learned how to relax an have some fun.  I became inspired to make something for me, to do something creative, rather its writing or taking a class.  Life isn’t just work and  bills.  It’s about taking a piece of bar stock and forging it into something completely different. It’s twisting it and drawing it and changing it into something else, something that inspires, or enchants, or evokes some form of an emotion. Something that is beautiful, or something that isn’t.   There’s a metaphor in there.  Today I found that we can do that with our own lives everyday.  We can twist and draw and forge our everyday existence into what we dream it to be.  If it is possible to apply a little bit of heat and transform steel or iron into something completely different in its appearance with a few hammer strikes; something that stable and hardened; what can we do with our lives, our relationships and the very nature of what we inspire in others, and what we are inspired by.

What I made today in class, is not exactly what I wanted it to be, it’s far from perfect, and it has plenty of flaws; but isn’t that exactly the way my life has been?  To me it is exactly what is was supposed to be, and when I looked down at it after the oil bath I almost cried! (Keep in mind there was a shop full of guys so I definitely did not!!!)  But the nature of this day did not escape me.  The process and outcomes of this day struck the iron in my age forged spirit and softened it just a little bit more.  So here I sit with another lesson drawn from a hunk of bar stock laying upon an anvil.

I cannot wait to take my next lesson from fire and steel!  We have a lot in common!!!

Oh yeah, I started with a piece of 3/8″ bar stock about 4″ long.  I started with a wizards hat but realized I kind of wanted to make a knife edge below the face and I wanted the hat to kind of curl around the pinky while holding the knife. I didn’t realize how hard that would be while working the piece as you can’t really just hold onto it!  Hopefully you can get it all from the pictures.

Also, at the beginning of the class there was the usual shop safety protocol.  However there was an additional rule added, which was… “Don’t lick the hot metal!”  Apparently during one of the classes, a woman wasn’t sure if her stock was cooled quite enough to do a dip, so as if she were testing the soup on the stove, was about to touch it to her tongue to see if it was still too hot when the instructor looked just in time to stop her.  So as in life, so in the shop kids.  Don’t lick the hot metal!!


Nearly finished project.  Didn’t want to work the blade anymore as I was already getting too thin, better planning next time.  I’ll clean it up with a grind.  That hammer was my bestest buddy today


Trying to show how I wanted the knife to curl around the finger with the wizard’s hat. Not bad for my first time I guess


The anvil I used today


My wizard’s face and part of his beard



I like the twist



This was one of the forges we used today.  Single burn propane.  They also have coal forges there but we used propane today


Some of the guys,  they were a whole lot of fun!

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