Wednesday, 29 January 2014

The forge of the future

The way we forge and many of the styles we choose to forge in our quite traditional. What is tradition and what or who influences these styles? For the most part most traditional-esque blacksmiths forge in a very pre and Victorian style, they use pre-Victorian tooling and techniques. Victorians were very influenced by elaborate and flamboyant designs with the emphasis on grandger such as in the Brock and the rococo designs. As we stumble in to the future we have to ask a couple of questions about what it means to be a blacksmith. For the most part style change with time as a matter of course and are predominantly affected by styles that predate them. The way in which we work with metals for the most part doesn’t change but it’s the tooling and the science that alter slightly this in turn can and has affected how we design and what we make.

One of the most important questions that must be addressed is the way in which we heat metal. Ultimately one of the fundamental aspects of the Industrial Revolution was the way in which we used fuel. Predominantly we use fuel much the same as we did during these times; the consequences, side-effects and overall issues that surround fossil fuels needs to be addressed. As blacksmiths the ability to heat and hit hot metal is the essence of our craft and without a heat source what will we do. One solution could be the development of induction furnaces or the use of less harmful chemical fuel based hearths.

Other aspects that the future may bring up are the types and way in which we use our material. If the forging process was understood better the benefit of forging billets stock could allow industries to lower waist material. There should be a duty of care with what materials go into work we make and whether or not they serve to be of any significance.

The introduction of more efficient and effective machinery alters the way in which we work as well. Should we all deny such techniques and machinery or is it right to embrace new technologies. One such technology which many blacksmiths use is laser cutting and other types of CNC profiling. Not only are these technologies saving use time but they reduce costs which is all ways good for small businesses. And lastly the type of work that Smith’s will incur is also likely to change as it has for centuries.

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