The Value of Learning from Others

Blacksmithing can be a lonely craft. Thankfully, I have my wife to keep me company in the shop to help with striking, designing awesome driftwood and iron pieces and generally being a great support in our endeavours. This past weekend was the first Kootenay Blacksmith Association meeting that was held since before the covid pandemic hit the world, and I didn’t realize how much I missed it.

Troy speaking at the spring Kootenay Blacksmith Association conference.

This spring, the KBA invited a bladesmith, Troy Flanders of Flanders Forge, to speak to the crowd. What a source of information, and he barely scratched the surface of the bladesmithing craft. Regardless, I learned much from him and also got some useful tips on improving my forging techniques from a fellow member. I’m currently finishing up a hori hori for a customer, putting what I learned into practice and I can honestly say this is the best hori I’ve made yet.

Some of Troy Flander’s work.

I’ve been a professional blacksmith for over five years now, so I figure I know quite a bit about hammering steel and all the other accompanying skills that go with it. However, in order for me to learn anything from other ‘smiths I have to do two things: swallow my pride and listen. There is a vulnerability that comes with that because I have to admit to myself that I don’t know everything, that there are others who are better at this stuff than I am, and the only way I can learn is by admitting that to myself and to others.

Thankfully, the KBA members are gracious and helpful folks (despite the stereotype of blacksmiths being ornery and secretive), and if you’re willing to be quiet and pay attention to what the older generation of craftsmen are saying, you might just learn a thing or two. If you’d like to keep up with the happenings of the Kootenay Blacksmith’s Association, go to their contact page to become a member:

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