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Breakwall Ambush


tive to present to visitors is vital. If you are uncomfortable talking with the public or are clumsy with hand tools, you’re not going to be successful here.” Apprentices start on projects that teach them to use a hammer precisely; to under- stand how the material moves; and to be able to move it accurately and consistently utilizing the different surfaces of the ham- mer and anvil. Cooking utensils are great examples, stretching the material sideways and lengthwise while maintaining a con- sistent thickness. The pieces are also small enough that each one can be completed fairly quickly.


A forged key is not only utilitarian but a work of art. Courtesy of CWF


sess equal passion for the historical trades. “Depending upon one’s level of experi- ence, if someone comes into the shop with little or no experience, it can take as much as six to eight years as an ap- prentice to become a journeyman,” Ken explains. “Aislinn already had a number of years’ experience and a level of educa-


tional focus that she was able to fulfill the requirements of journeyman in less than six years.


When I look to hire an employee I’m looking for a background in the trades and hand skills. Interacting well with the public, having communication skills to create a strong, concise, historical narra-


“This helps develop coordination and judgement,” Ken explains. “You must think and work quickly because as soon as the iron is removed from the fire it begins to cool and change rapidly. A blacksmith must have a mental image of the finished product, and in between ev- ery hammer blow, they must transfer that visual image from the eye to the hand.” It’s that conceptual and sculptural ability that defines success or failure. “There are seven skills that go into working with iron. You can make it longer and thinner; shorter and thicker; you


16


March/April 2017


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