DMW Forges ahead
So, I recently took up blacksmithing. Specifically, I began forging metal into functional tools, and hope to eventually do art in the medium. Now, I am by no means an expert, and this is a craft that stretches back to the bronze age, and so it is amazing to think how little thought of it is in this day and age. First off, some appropriate music for a last stand in a righteous cause.
First off, I'm a rank beginner. I am consciously aware of my ineptitude. Which means I don't burn myself much, I work slow, carefully, and listen VERY carefully to anybody giving me advice and instructions. I picked up at least half a dozen books on metal working, to ensure that my information was accurate and applicable.
With that in mind, there's an exhilaration in metal working that I cannot express. The first time I ever worked with metal I was a child and made toy soldiers via vulcanized rubber casting. Admittedly working with a small fire and low temperature metals, but still had the same scent and joy of transformation.
And that really is the greatest appeal. There's certain mindsets that are a part and parcel of blacksmithing which transform thought in new and interesting ways. For example, the attitude towards garbage changes. Bear with me. Garbage for me falls into two categories. Workable and unworkable. Workable garbage involves things that can go back in the fire and be useful again. I have my pair of tongs that I love, which were made out of basic garbage. Two pieces of mild steel, beaten at angles, and yet giving incredible power in application due to their construction.
Perhaps it's a further application of my disconnect mindset, but it's amazing. Social media... NEVER. Websites, Once a day. Phone, Downgraded to a flip phone. Computer, Home built with help from friends.
The most interesting thing is that Judo is an incredible aid to my blacksmithing. The LAST thing you want to do as a smith is stiff arm the hammer and wrap your thumb. You'll screw up your arm after an hour. The Judo grip also uses a thumb less grab to ensure maximum power and mobility. Putting the two together means hammering is EASY for me. Especially when I remember to maintain the Judo mindset of maximum efficiency for minimum effort. In depictions of smiths you'll often see them presented as especially tough because they cold hammer iron. That's not tough. That's fucking STUPID. You'll crack your metal, put in air bubbles, etc... it's just bad. If there's one thing Hollywood gets wrong almost EVERY time, it's blacksmithing. You want a steady, almost meditative piece. You work while the metal is hot, you clean and plan out your next move while the metal heats.
And I might as well mention my favorite part. I love twisting metal. A Basic blacksmith twist I managed on my first attempt and LOVED it. I've got a TON of ideas involving it and art that I haven't seen much in modern works. Eventually I also hope to take a glassblowing class because once I have a forge up and running I can use many of the same skills and tools to work glass as well and it fascinates me almost as much as metal work. There are some amazing things you can do with the combination of the two.
And so, I come down to the political part of this. While this art is non-political, it has been made so by the toxicity of our culture. Blacksmithing is heavily involved with cowboy and historical re-enactment culture. So guess who's involved with it? That's right a LOT of conservatives. Specifically the Weapon Category. I admit, I love the artistry and skill involved with making weapons. I'm a huge fan of the show "Forged In Fire" for the craftsmanship, camaraderie and general nerdiness of the competitors. I learned some techniques from a winner of the show, and he was the kindest and most patient teacher I've had the pleasure to take instruction from.
With that in mind, guess who is considered dangerous. Yep. You make weapons, guess what the media and pigs are going to watch you like a hawk for? It's an excuse for them to put you away for a long time for political views. One of the other reasons I stopped being politically vocal. I don't need the trouble. While I would love to forge my own dirk, because honestly, I could use one around the forge and the kitchen, I won't. (Seriously, I need a good chopping knife for meat, and the mass produced cutco crap is ok, but the only reason it works is the serrations. I'd much prefer a clean edge.)
I want to work on my glass, wire and steel sculpture ideas and be happy. I'll make tools, of course, because that's the wonderful thing about blacksmithing. You make your own tools for the most part. I won't attach photos, because... well, my phone is a pain in the ass with regards to photos and sharing things. I picked it deliberately. It was funny, I qualified for a brand new free phone with that helpful little AI assistant, they helpfully informed me. I picked a flip phone that doesn't even have a touch screen. Fuck you Alexa, burn in hell along with all the other imaginary demons. I will not share confidence with a proven oath breaker.
So who knows, maybe one day I'll have my own workspace set out like I want. (4 burner forge, French Anvil (I like being able to move the thing), Granite surfaces and nice open space to work glass.)