grandchildren must have been curious about Grandpa's anvil because a
resurgence in blacksmithing began about 1970. Today, about 5,000 men and
women belong to ABANA, the Artists Blacksmith Assn. of North America.
There are an estimated 5,000 non-members. Add to that all of
the farriers, bladesmiths, gunsmiths, and armourers and perhaps 20-30,000
Americans practice the metal arts of our earlier days. Maybe even more.
But that's still not many in a nation of 270,000,000 people. And when you
whittle this down to the full-timers who derive their living from actual
metalsmithing, the percentage drops even lower. Don't sell your car and
tractor, just yet.
quality of work, especially in the arts, is more impressive now than it's
ever been. There is more of a market for metal sculpture now than at any
quality of work of today's bladesmiths and gunsmiths rivals any time
in history. But rather than arm a village, today's workmanship is
primarily sold to collectors.
styles and nature of architectural ironwork changes from decade
to decade, we are seeing some truly fantastic work today. But you will
never see banks commission window and door grilles as they once did. Nor will
your university install iron gates at its entrance.
know more about their trade today than at anytime in history. But unless
you are in Amish country or visit the Budweiser Clydesdale stables, then you
aren't going to find farriers shoeing work horses.
as blacksmiths in the 21st Century, are merely keeping the forge warm. No one pretends to be
Longfellow's man. Nor would anyone claim to be a master blacksmith like Samuel
If they do, they know nothing of history.
of history, consider this: Leif Ericsson wrote a detailed description of his
Newfoundland expedition. He observed that winters there were so mild that they
did not even have a frost during the winter. He also observed that cattle and
sheep could graze year 'round because of the mild climate. The same site today
supports only cold-tolerant vegetation such as partridgeberry, not forage
grasses. Global warming, anyone?
For the Appalachian Blacksmiths Association, by
David G. Allen
Continue on to History, Part 3
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