Monday, February 20, 2012

“I can’t Get no…”


Since the first item I stumbled through making in the forge I have been in pursuit of creating what I am seeing. Nothing has ever come easy to me…I have had to work hard to break even most of the time. So, the uphill battle here is nothing new. Some people sketch their ideas out in finished form or draw out the process to get a better understanding of the end result. Others wing it based off of what is in their mind’s eye. Even more will forge samples of the elements in smaller form. I have done all of these. I have no formal training as an artist on any level. I did take Art Appreciation 101 in Community College. That was mostly looking at naked sculptures and darkly lit ambiguous portraits…nothing really appreciative in my honest non-artsy opinion.

So, in every project I put out what I am convinced is my very best. I try not to settle (though I still do from time to time...thankfully I am surrounded by people who call me out on it when it does happen) while making the item. I have never been 100% happy with anything I have made. There is always that misplaced hammer blow, too long, too short, fit and finish was not perfect…the list goes on and on. The fact is that the first is worse than the last and every one in between gains from the mistakes in the last. Maybe that is the point in all of this. It is the pursuit of perfection that keeps us moving.

We get so caught up in the fantasy of perfection when it is the pursuit of perfection that makes us better people. If I were to create, under my hammer, perfection every time I would never find the satisfaction in the pursuit of it. Basically, it all comes down to something I am told from time to time, “If it were easy anybody could do it.” The pursuit of perfection is not easy; it is hard. For me, perfection is an ideal and the ultimate goal. This is something that would certainly make this world a much better place if we kept it in mind in our daily pursuits.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thinking in the Fire

I think this phrase first stuck when hearing Jerry Darnell use it in one of his demonstrations. Talking over the high points on the way back home I finally understood what he really meant. Heat is everything. Do not waste your heat…the saying goes that it is one of the two ways a blacksmith can go to Hell: “beating on cold iron”.

Basically we need to be thinking of our next steps we will do with the heat while the piece is heating up. Visualization, I think, is the third unspoken element in hand-eye coordination. You will be more accurate in your movement after visualizing what you are going to do.  It is also funny that since doing this (sometimes not as well as I should!) I can sometimes see things slowing down while working through the heat. I am not “Neo” and dodging bullets is not something I wish to attempt, but things in motion do seem to slow down after I have first thought through that step. The outcome is better work, more confidence, and ultimately a more engrained and natural sense of forging with intention.

I am finding myself “thinking in the fire” in my day job and watching the non-stop rolling of posts and shares on facebook. At times, all I want to do is blindly respond to allow a free form of verbal forgings go flying into the atmosphere. The end result would be abstract and obtuse. So, I try to “think in the fire” to map out my own daily movement of “metal”. Sometimes it works. Other times it does not.

Things are beginning to go full circle now while forging. While practicing the fundamentals of forging (that are becoming more like second nature) I am “thinking in the fire” about what is outside the forge. An ironic twist being that I have for so long used the forge and anvil to seek sanctuary from the outside stresses. Drawing out the taper, making that simple hook, forging yet another leaf, all give me pause while creating. A hobby (maybe even an obsession) that is my release and salvation from the daily grind has become the psychiatrist and the couch at times. I am thankful for the coal smoke, occasional burns, and tired body. I think it is time to take another heat and see what happens…