The Crucible of 2021

The world has seen dramatic and seismic shifts in almost every manner this past year, and it’s helped many people reflect on their circumstances (especially with the nature of work) and whether something better could be conceived. For Lorinda and me, it’s given us ample time to consider how we structure our daily lives and in what ways we can better align ourselves with our ideals of meaningful work, work-life balance, peace and quiet, and resiliency.

This year we’re trying a different approach to ‘smithing. We’ve been in business for six years now and we have a fairly good sense of where to spend our production time. The plan is to create, in advance, a good number of products that we’re quite sure will earn us a solid income. Building up an inventory isn’t really a radical idea; most businesses have to operate on that model in order to keep up with demand. For us, however, it’s always been a “wait and see” approach. We put up an item for sale and wait and see if it sells. It keeps us very agile, but it doesn’t allow much room for branching into new products or processes since we’re always trying to catch up to demand.

That process of “just in time” production and shipping for online markets is very common these days, but the sense I get is that we, as a society, are shifting away from that. I see a future of more localized demand and supply, and part of getting on board with that system is to be able to put our product out there in the stores of local merchants. It’s precisely the opposite of online commerce, which has seen explosive growth over the past two years, but I think this last year has revealed its limits. Lorinda and I have done well enough for ourselves by moving in contrarian ways to that of society around us, and so we want to pivot to more local sales, less reliance on e-commerce, and establishing a market closer to where we live.

Hand axe forged from a reclaimed farrier’s rasp.

This mode of production will also free up time for us to stretch our artistic and ‘smithing abilities by trying new things. I aim to create more knives and axes (especially for woodworking) and Lorinda has already seen success with her creative blending of ironwork and locally scavenged driftwood. Blacksmithing is an interesting mix of creative and manufacturing pursuits. We’re shifting the balance in our forge with an eye towards a future that’s more local and more resilient. We hope you’ll join us.

Driftwood from Kootenay Lake mounted on hand forged brackets.

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