As a professional qualified blacksmith, I pride myself on the skills and techniques I have learned and the experience I have acquired over the past 18 years working throughout Australia and studying abroad.
The time, money and frustration of advancing skills to further expand on my professional skillset has been a source of joy and independence.
I understand it is difficult to differentiate between skilled professional blacksmiths and general fabricators so keep a few points in mind when deciding who to work with on your next project.
Are they qualified?
Currently there is only one blacksmith trade course in Australia at Ultimo, Sydney. Trade qualification offer the base level of skills, which every skilled blacksmith then expands on. (This should be the minimum requirement)
Where have they trained?
Travelling and working in multiple workshops, including overseas broadens the skillset and offers a broader ranging knowledge.
Can they demonstrate pieces of my project?
Most skilled blacksmiths are willing to demonstrate forging elements of your project, as it helps the client appreciate the work and skills involved, while highlighting the difference between general fabricated ironwork and bespoke forged ironwork.
Have they studied and worked overseas?
Australia is relatively isolated as far as sharing skills and undertaking courses. International tuition and experience is essential for advancing a blacksmithing career, studying past works and finding inspiration.
Machine made or Hand forged?
General fabricators use machine made, mass produced scrolls bought in from wholesalers, which are then welded in place.
The easiest way to spot these is by a small flat section at the beginning of the scroll. (This is where the machine grabs the scroll before bending it cold). It is also generally the same width and section, with only a short taper near the tip.
A skilled blacksmith will use a forge or furnace to heat and shape steel over an anvil. This results in smooth, well proportioned scrollwork with even tapers that change section over a long transition. Scrollwork will be more 3D, with subtle evidence of hammer marks.
Keeping trade skills alive.
By choosing a qualified professional blacksmith to undertake your works, you are choosing to invest in skill retention and development. These skills are advanced and passed on to following generations, keeping these trade skills alive.