The art of blacksmithing once appeared to be in jeopardy of fading from existence. Modern manufacturing technologies and new materials had consigned the trade mostly to museums and historical displays. Now, a new generation of metal crafters is spawning a resurgence. Among them is newly appointed president of the Saskatchewan Blacksmiths Association, Tyler Deis from Humboldt.
This weekend, Humboldt will be the home of a hammer-in featuring about 20 practitioners, some from Manitoba. The event is private for organization members only.
“We host hammer-ins all over the province, and I’m hosting the fall one just outside of Humboldt,” Deis explained. “A hammer-in is a gathering of blacksmiths. Sometimes we just have a meeting, and sometimes, we have forging time or demonstrators that can educate the attendees.”
The Saskatchewan organization has begun networking with their Manitoba counterparts and attending events in the Keystone province. This weekend, some of those interprovincial counterparts will be making the trek west to Humboldt.
Deis is a welder by trade but had an abiding curiosity about forging and metal work. He was gifted an introductory course in blacksmithing at the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon about 15 years ago, and he hasn’t looked back. Deis has crafted everything from small items like bottle openers and fireplace pokers to larger scale projects like railings for houses. He has a pair of forges, one coal and one gas fired, to heat the metal in a fusion of traditional and modern practices.
Part of the revisited interest in blacksmithing and forging stems from the popularity of the TV series “Forged in Fire,” where competitors pit themselves against each other in crafting specialized types of weapons and tools. Social media has also created new connections and provided a broad and generalized outreach.
“Social media gave a lot of artists and artisans a chance to show their work and reach a bigger audience,” says Deis. “And now our organization is happy to get other people involved.”
For anyone who is interested in finding out more about the art, or would like to be involved, connect with the Saskatchewan Blacksmith Association website.
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