The past couple of years have certainly been a struggle as we made a major transition moving to a new province, searching for a suitable (and affordable) property to set up our homestead and shop, coping with the challenges that were brought forward by the pandemic, and trying to maintain our sanity in a world that seemed to be even less based on reason than before. When our family relocated to British Columbia, Tim and I had initially planned to each launch our own businesses in our town, with Tim’s focus on Reforged Ironworks and mine on creating an artistic, herbal apothecary of sorts. We completed a business course to hone our business ideas and get more established in our new environment. The class ended just at the beginning of the pandemic, and as we prepared to launch our businesses in our new community, the world went into lock down. My business folded as retail and markets were shut down yet, surprisingly to us, Reforged Ironwork’s online sales surged higher. I stepped away from my business to help Tim keep up with the demand for fire pokers and garden tools, and have been helping in the forge ever since.
We have also intentionally chosen to slow down our pace of life as we increasingly feel the pressure to speed up, make quicker decisions and take on more and more (while simultaneously being encouraged by our culture to take advantage of more and more conveniences-which in turn have us doing less and less for our own health and wellness and are arguably not sustainable ‘solutions’). Turning against the tide so to speak has been a challenge. But the more we let go of the narratives of our times, the more we realize that we had been pulled out of alignment with many of our values by those societal mantras. For example, the term sustainable is thrown around consistently these days as a measure that we need to strive for, yet it doesn’t seem that many stop to consider if their own lifestyles could be deemed as sustainable. Diversity, consent and respect are other key terms of our times, but I personally cannot say that I have seen the meaning behind these words well portrayed in the past few years.
As our sales increased, both Tim and I realized how difficult it is for those who make their work by hand to keep up with increasing demands. While our family felt an immense amount of gratitude for being able to do what we love for a living, and have it sustain us financially, we also realized the limitations that we faced (physical and mental). This has been a humbling experience in so many ways- for myself, I have had to learn a trade that requires much skill, strength and consideration to detail which I found myself fumbling to pick up as I worked alongside my husband in the shop. Luckily, Tim is a wonderful teacher, and I say with confidence that if he can train me to blacksmith, he can likely help anyone learn this craft. My skills with a hammer in the beginning were amateur at best. Tim was starting to offer lessons while we were still in Alberta and he had an increasing amount of interest, but for the past two years hasn’t been able to offer this part of our business. We have also both experienced the physical limitations that our bodies will allow with repetitive, strenuous work. And with this experience, we can understand the shift to machine-made, mass produced items that often come from other countries due to lower labor costs. But we choose not to move in that direction ourselves, as we believe that with those gains in quantity, there is significant loss in quality, workmanship, the art of the craft, sustainability, choice of materials, etc.
If you have purchased an item from us, I want to say thank you for supporting our small, slow-craft family business. And I want to say an extra thank you for those who have been our customers and been understanding of the constraints that making a product from scratch and as an art entail. This has been a difficult journey, sometimes we’ve felt as though we were taking a dive into an abyss of uncertainty, but because of people who support what we do, this art and process has been able to survive and flourish. Thank you for helping to sustain the craft of hand-forged products.