SUMMERVILLE — Blacksmithing is one of the oldest trades in the world, yet few people are part of it. Summerville resident Peter Clark is working on getting the next generation of blacksmiths ready.
In collaboration with Art Center East, Smith taught a virtual beginner smithing class and provided a live demonstration from his home forge on Wednesday night, Oct. 14.
“Blacksmithing is challenging, demanding, exciting and satisfying work,” Clark said. “It is a harder job than some, but it makes life worth living.”
Clark, who owns the Northwest Skillet Company and runs Homestead Springs Farm and Forge in Summerville, made blacksmithing his career in 2016. He said he fell in love with blacksmithing because of its history, science and the creativity it provides.
“When you think you’ve gone as far as you can in one area, you pick up the metal and try to make something new,” Clark said.
Now, he said, he wants to pass on his knowledge and experience to the next generation of blacksmiths. Clark said he had been planning on teaching a class at Art Center East and performing a live demonstration in front of the building before the coronavirus pandemic came to Union County. Due to the limitations on large gatherings, Clark agreed to do a livestream class and demonstration with help from ACE and the Northwest Blacksmith Association.
“We really wanted to still do something to keep the ball rolling,” Clark said. “With livestreaming available it makes it easy to teach still.”
The class Wednesday night included a walk-through of safety measures and equipment, the basic tool kit for a beginning blacksmith and a live demonstration of the steps for forging. Clark explained the importance of selecting the correct hammer, tongs, anvil and heat source. He said his intention for the class was not only to introduce people to the basics of blacksmithing but to help experienced blacksmiths brush up on their knowledge.
“I want to make blacksmithing more accessible and remove the mystery of it,” Clark said.
He said one of the great things about blacksmithing is the variety of products that can come out of it, from machines and jewelry to horseshoes and his specialty of cookware.
“People have gotten worn out by the mass consumerism of the replaceable good,” Clark said. “With handmade products there is the soul of the worker in it. When it is made by hand, you get a piece of the person who made it. Nothing is going to fit you better than something that is handmade.”