History of the Blacksmith

Around 1500 BC and on to 1200 BC, the smelting of iron became common. The technology to make fires hot enough to melt iron did not arise until the 16th century, when smelting operations grew enough to require overly large bellows. These produced blast-furnace temperatures high enough to melt partially refined ores, resulting in cast iron. Thus cast iron frying pans and cookware did not become possible in Europe until 3000 years after the introduction of iron smelting. China, in a separate developmental tradition, was producing cast iron at least 1000 years before this.

Although iron is quite abundant, good quality steel remained rare and expensive until the industrial developments of Bessemer process in the 1850s. Close examination of blacksmith-made antique tools clearly shows where small pieces of steel were forge-welded into iron to provide the hardened steel cutting edges of tools (notably in axes, adzes, chisels, etc.). In the medieval period, blacksmithing was considered part of the set of seven mechanical arts. Prior to the industrial revolution, a “village smithy” was a staple of every town. (Wikipedia)

To Be Continued

Factories and mass-production reduced the demand for blacksmith-made tools and hardware. The original fuel for forge fires was charcoal. Coal did not begin to replace charcoal until the forests of first Britain (during the AD 17th century), and then the eastern United States of America (during the 19th century) were largely depleted. During the early to mid-nineteenth century both European armies as well as both the U.S. Federal and Confederate armies employed blacksmiths to shoe horses and repair equipment such as wagons, horse tack, and artillery equipment. The use of screw cutting Lathes in the 1790’s started a decline in blacksmithing, replacing them with machinists. As demand for their products declined, many blacksmiths augmented their incomes by taking in work shoeing horses. A shoer-of-horses was historically known as a farrier in English.  A farrier combines some blacksmith‘s skills (fabricating, adapting, and adjusting metal shoes) with some veterinarian‘s skills (knowledge of the anatomy and physiology of the lower limb) to care for horses’ feet. A renewed interest in blacksmithing occurred as part of the trend in “do-it-yourself” and “self-sufficiency” that occurred during the 1970s. Some modern blacksmiths produce decorative metalwork and refer to themselves as artist-blacksmiths. Source: From Wikipedia

Note: I spell it Ferrier, the way it sounds to me.

Did we lose anything in the industrial revolution with the change in the trades?

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I am interested in improving my drawing skills and have always wanted to be able to do illustrations, but felt like it was beyond my abilities. This course will be a stretch for me.

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