| I started my first metalwork generally,
blacksmithing specifically, about 1978 (so at point of
writing, 40 years ago).
Over those years, the Canadian marketplace has shifted
considerably. I have been supporting myself via the
Wareham Forge since 1992. The kind of work I have
undertaken has shifted over time as well. This was not
just to produce only what will sell, but more importantly
what I have been personally interested in. This in turn
has affected what specific skills I had acquired, what
research I undertook, and what tools I invested in - all
to support certain types of work :
||At the beginning, I
specialized in ‘Historic
Reproductions in Metals’ This included costume
jewellery, small scale metal casting, as well as
hand forged domestic objects. Those originally
included what was described as ‘Re-Enactor’s
Supplies’, primarily camp cookware and small tools.
This slowly drifted to similar small scale household
accessories, things like candle holders and pot
racks. Outdoor objects included simple sign hangers
||From 1996, I was
increasingly focused on museum related projects. It
was in this period I designed, created and
implemented the ‘Norse
Encampment’ series for L’Anse aux Meadows NHSC
(Parks Canada). Over the 'Viking Millennium' (2000)
I consulted and worked on a number of major exhibits
on the Viking Age, perhaps culminating with the
creation of the stand alone exhibit ’World of the Norse’.
||Starting in the early
2000 + period, I was approached about designing and
creating a number of larger architectural
projects for private homes. This work included
interior and exterior stair and balcony rails, as
well as more sculptural objects for gardens like
gates, fountains and arbours.
Building on the earlier research, I would
increasingly develop a major interest in Bloomery Iron
Smelting, embarking on a major experimental
archaeology series. This in turn would lead to
academic papers, demonstrations workshops.
||With the shift in
economic climate starting with the Recession of
2008, the requests for larger commissions certainly
dropped off at the Wareham Forge. At the same time
however, demand for training courses greatly
increased. Having both good ability and long
experience as a teacher, trainer and lecturer, I
found myself perfectly positioned to expand my long
standing series of weekend
As my research with Iron Smelting continued, I was
recruited to work on projects here in Canada, the
USA, Scotland and Northern Europe.
|As more and more of
my available income shifted from what I could make -
to what I knew and could communicate, I find myself
more able to focus on what could be considered ‘Art’.
Objects that have no particular function other than
to be visually interesting, or provoke a response.
In short, 'making what inspires me'...
|It is also important to consider
just where I am currently in my own life cycle.
I started at the forge while a student at Ontario
College of Art, in my early 20’s. Run the math. That
makes me (also at time of writing) into my early
As you should guess, I now bring all those
accumulated decades of experience to my work. This
would certainly suggest that I would be only
interested in projects that would require that kind
of experience and level of skills.
One significant element to this is - I most
certainly don’t have the kind of physical abilities
I had when I was in my mid thirties, establishing
the Wareham Forge. This is somewhat mitigated by my
investment in heavy powered tools, an air hammer and
hydraulic press. Still, it becomes increasingly
important (if not outright necessary) for me to
wisely apply the energy available.
Of course a life time of skills development,
encompassing for almost two decades serious
experimental research, also needs to be documented.
Writing and publishing, via blog, web site, formal
papers, even private e-mails, consumes a larger and
larger part of each ‘working’ day.
This brings us back to
the starting statement :
Is your potential project of interest to me?
Do consider the following :
Does the work actually require the level of skill and
experience I hold?
- There are a larger and larger number of ‘entry level’
blacksmiths out there. Simple objects are most certainly
within the scope of these new (usually younger!) workers. At
the level of starting / promoting a new business, these
smiths are most likely to be responsive to elements of time
and cost limitations.
Is there a major artistic design element to the project?
- Over the years, all my work has been based on my own
designs, dominated by my personal ‘Rivendale’ style.
Honestly, at this date I am not interested in purely
functional objects, or manufacturing other people’s
Is there a realistically large budget?
- Remember the level of education, skills development, and
overall experience I have. Consider your own situation -
What kind of weekly / yearly income would you expect someone
with 35 years (and counting) * professional * work to
Remember that I am quickly approaching an age when most
people would be expecting to Retire (!)
Although a working artisan never really ‘retires’ in the
usual sense, I certainly am now being much more careful
about what projects I am willing to invest my own personal
This most certainly effects the scale, complexity and speed
that I can realistically undertake.
After considering the elements above, and how they might
apply to your particular project, I am certainly willing
to have a general discussion about it.
Please take the time to read the
various information already clearly provided over this web
and many others - including the various Gallery segments illustrating my
Do remember that my time remains valuable, so any first
contact may prove a limited communication.
Those specifically interested in custom bladesmithing,
should read the bog
post on this topic.
original : February 24, 2018