John Little


Cold, hard iron seems an unlikely medium with which to create organic form. Its nature is strong and stubborn. The methods used to manipulate this material seem so antithetical to natural process. It is, after all, a process of intense heat and violent force that allows the blacksmith to change the shape of the material and create form and line to suit some preconceived design . But the irony is that the hot metal cannot simply be beaten into obedience. The work must reflect an intimate understanding of the nature of the material and the processes of blacksmithing. The work, to be good, must be a cooperative effort between brain, eye, hand, heat, hammer and anvil. A young smith's work always looks forced and beaten up. With time and understanding comes increased grace of form with less effort. In many ways the popular image of the blacksmith being master by brute strength over a difficult medium is simply wrong. The best work comes from the hands of a smith comfortable enough to dance and play with the hot metal. At this point, it seems a very natural process indeed. The iron withdrawn from a coal fire at yellow heat is placed on the anvil with respect, like a living thing, and is forged into a new alignment. The rhythmic hammer adds energy with each blow-- energy direct from the smith's body. During that brief time of forgeable heat, it's as though the smith's energy and the energy of the hot metal conspire to allow the new form to emerge.