•  Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada

Search Uxbridge Studio Tours

Confessions of a Blacksmith - Part 2

Confessions of a Blacksmith - Part 2

Metal as a medium and particularly through the process of forging, allows exploring forms and textures not achievable in metal any other way.

What seems like lifetimes ago I was refrigeration and HVAC mechanic. Working on commercial industrial gizmos that kept things or people warm or cold, while usually experiencing the polar opposite temperature of whatever it was I was trying to rectify. It was a respectable trade that many men and some women make a respectable living by. However, as much as I tried to make the piping arrangements visually pleasing, orderly, and followable. Along with the mazes of mind melting control wiring colourful, and eye drawing, it was never quite clicking with my persistent dream to follow a more artistic path.

One day about half way into a 25 year run at HVACR, I made it my mission to try and change what seemed truly unchangeable. Slowly with a long list of coincidences, happy accidents and a $#!+load of sacrifices, particularly by my supportive wife Chris, positive results started to accumulate in the intended direction. Although it did indeed take 10 years of this incremental progression to end up at the beginning of a new and completely unrecognizable life and style. It is not lost on me to grasp the sheer improbability to do that mid-career, in that career, or any for that matter. That cord was cut 12 years ago now.

People always ask how did you become a blacksmith. Did you apprentice for someone? Was your father in the trade? Have you seen “Forged In Fire”? As far as I can find no one related to me was involved with forging or metalwork in any way. Although it feels at times like there was some prior knowledge somehow. My Spanish Dad was a pastry chef, and my Canadian Mum was a stay at home Mom and pianist in her youth. I simply had an interest in forging metal and was inspired by the possibilities. As well as a few practical items I wanted to try and make. I would advise anyone wanting to make a major change to take small steps and make sure you love it. Not just the romantic image of it. This IS hard work just the same. If you love IT and are crazy about it, people will be drawn to that.

Slowly by trial and error, I started to figure things out with a few burns and the small pile of reject attempts. The timing was pre-internet so books or knowing an actual smith were really the only sources of information. Today with Youtube and (NON) reality (heavy on the drama) shows easily accessible to everyone, the subject definitely has gained more awareness, but unfortunately at the expense of a limited (hyper-testosterone) scope. Hope I can slowly sway that a bit by reminding people of some of the other possibilities.

Metal as a medium and particularly through the process of forging, allows exploring forms and textures not achievable in metal any other way. Touching the finished piece is not only encouraged, it is a requirement to fully experience the work. The surface and all that has bought it to that point is only appreciated by handling.

I’m so happy to be able to work at something that lights my fire, sparks my imagination, and burns at my curiosity. It is also a great feeling to be part of a supportive arts community here in Uxbridge and Scugog. I treat this gift with respect and treasure the fulfilling fortune it allows me.

…and yes I hate this edition already too.

Cheers, mark

Uxbridge Studio Tour

Couldn't we all use a little more art right now?
art challenges perception

For 2024 we are looking forward to an open-doors studio tour without the need for appointments! Check back often to learn more about this year's tour.

Check Out Our Art Stories