Saturday, August 11, 2012

Goddess of Smithcraft (with emphasis on Blacksmithing)

Blacksmith Woman

For the smiths among us, and those Brigidines interested in knowing more about the smith side of the goddess, there is available online BLACKSMITH PRACTICE: EM 862 (War Department Education Manual).

Metal Web News provides the manual with links to the various chapter. Or you can download it from scribd, sans links.
I draw your attention to this one piece, but in fact Metal Web News has a host of other articles branching out from their Blacksmithing page, as well as a Forge-Foundry-Casting page with lots of pictures and how-to information.

For chat about blacksmithing, go to the John C. Campbell Folk School Blog's "Blacksmith Shop" and get in on the conversation.

Wander over to, the website of Lorelei Sims (Artist and Blacksmith) for a look at her work, her farm (Pasture Prime Commune!), her book (The Backyard Blacksmith), her dogs...Heck, she even has blacksmithing t-shirts, including my favourite, the Fire Goddess T-Shirt:

For those who like video, go to (a rich site and host of three smith-related blog rings) and check out their in-depth review of the Forge and Anvil TV series and books hosted by Alan Rogers in 1995. Good news! The series is now available on DVD.. You can catch lots of blacksmithing videos on YouTube as well, from the amateur, like christopher5361's homemade forge video, to the professional, such as the previews of Bob Rupert's TV shows (Blacksmithing with Bob Rupert). Check out "Let's Make a Nail." If you like what you see you can buy the DVDs from the makers here.

Maybe you are really interested and want to take a course. There are lots of places to do that now, though the craft nearly died out at one point in North America. How about rounding your knowledge out nicely at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina? Besides basic blacksmithing the school "provides experiences in non-competitive learning and community life that are joyful and enlivening. Located in scenic Brasstown, North Carolina, the Folk School offers year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, cooking, gardening, nature studies, photography and writing."

Renaissance Lady Blacksmith by Francesa Miller
You have to snoop around a bit to get a lead on all the smithing courses, depending on where you live. There are a couple of lists online (eg here) but they aren't exhaustive. You might do best to search "blacksmith" "school" and the name of your area, or you may miss something small but good nearby, as all the larger ones crowd to the top of the search results. If you love horses, you can get a diploma as a farrier at Olds College in Olds, Alberta (a really lovely area to squirrel away for two years, I should think). Another is the Maritime Farrier School in Truro, Nova Scotia, which also is a beautiful spot to be. Or if you want something that will take you from basic blacksmithing to wildly creative art- and armour-making, try Thak Ironworks in Floradale, Ontario.

And once you've got a start on your craft, you may want to join a blacksmithing association, such as the Vancouver Island Blacksmith Association. ("VIBA a non-profit society formed for the sole purpose of keeping blacksmithing alive in British Columbia. Members demonstrate at various local events including major annual events at the Fairgrounds, and at other local country fairs, Heritage Festivals, and schools. VIBA also hosts workshops featuring professional smiths.")

Of course, Brigit is not only a goddess of blacksmiths. There are whitesmiths, bronzesmiths, silversmiths, and so on. I leave it to you to search out some good contacts (and perhaps provide us with links).

Finally, you may just want to admire or purchase metalcraft, new or antique. Or how about new but modelled on antiques? Mark Shier of Gaukler Medieval Wares is one smith who delights in talking about his wares, and who takes great care in creating copies of ancient handicrafts, as well as selling antiques--coins, belt buckles, and so on. And yes, you could afford a lot of them. Why, I bought a handmade (and perfect!) bronze sewing needle from him for 7$.

Mark's creations
In his words, "Gaukler Medieval Wares makes jewellery and metalwork in ancient and medieval styles, using the methods and materials of the past. I do custom work, as long as the design is medieval or earlier. We also sell authentic ancient and medieval antiquities. All antiquities pictures have a white background, and all of my work has a black background."

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