I was first introduced to iron back in 1995 when I took a temporary job at a locksmith's workshop. After a few months it was clear to me that I wanted to work with iron but the routine of a locksmith's shop, which consists of working with big machines for cutting, drilling, welding etc., in a somewhat stressful environment didn't suit my nature A friend told me about someone teaching blacksmithing. At the time I didn’t even know this craft was still being practiced. I signed up for a beginner’s course taught by Uri Hofi , who is the “forefather” of most of Israel’s contemporary blacksmiths. After the course I was accepted as an apprentice in his workshop for several weeks. Eventually I stayed almost a year and left the workshop in kibutz Ein Shemer loaded with techniques and inspiration, filled to the brim with desire to dive  into blacksmithing. And that’s what I have been doing ever since.

 

So blacksmithing is, in case someone forgot or didn’t know… is the traditional technique with which iron was being worked through the ages, until the invention of the electric welding process. Most of the work is done by heating the iron bar in a hip of coal into which air is being blown in order to bring the temperature up  to 1200-1400 degree celsius. The iron doesn’t melt but its colour becomes yellow. At this point the bar is pulled out and its form can be changed by hammering, bending or splitting with a chisel. In the eyes of some people in the trade blacksmithing is considered more noble than welding, which is working “on cold”.  I used to think so too and for many years I have been teaching fervently Uri Hofi’s unique working technique. But  I have come full circle: lately I enjoy combining welding techniques that enable me to work more efficiently. The principle that guides me when using one technique or another is to turn the iron into a beautiful and desired object that reflects the pleasure I take  when working with it.