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…