Let me brag on some really fun times I had recently with Lisa Geertsen and so many others at the Community First Village in Austin, TX as part of the 2019 Forging Competitions!
Heads up on the Community First Village btw, a creation of Mobile Loaves and Fishes, if you're ever out that way- they hold a sprawling collection of adorable Tiny Homes, that act as active housing for previously homeless individuals. They also have tons of maker spaces for residence to enjoy and to utilize to make a dignified income with.
It's some seriously cool stuff and the blacksmithing area is run by Evan Wilson, who teams up with Haley Woodward (who you can go learn from at the Austin Community College) and Colby Brinkman (who is a cofounder of the Austin Metal Authority) to put on the annual forging competition each year. Keep your eyes on these people- their work speaks for itself but their aspirations for sharing the knowledge and encouraging fellow smiths and makers is a tremendous asset to the metalworking community!
So once a year a whole gaggle of blacksmiths collect to support Mobile Loaves and Fishes by participating in or heckling those involved in the forging competition. This year Lisa Geertsen of Firelight Forge was invited to participate. If you haven't seen Lisa's work yet- go take a look. It's incredible and so is she! I am forever fortunate that Lisa likes to invite me to come hang out and forge with her, and this time was no exception. I got the chance to partner up with Lisa and form team Thunder and Lightning!
We worked the full 3 hours to forge our winged creation- a spectacular piece, designed by Lisa, and meant to be a strong visual addition to the Community First Village after the competition. The creation entailed hot cutting 3/16" plate into two individual winged forms, me as striker standing between the coal forge and anvil and literally spanning the gap with both arms, trying desperately to get a perfect heat on the next wing while forging in perfect rhythm with Lisa who is lining up the chisel's perfect placement - spoiler alert- that didn't always go smoothly but once again Lisa is awesome and forgiving of my oopsies, ha! See "flying hot metal burns Lisa's new shirt" oopsie below. She said it added character..
Oh and don't mind the animal hair on the shirt- we are a pet friendly team...
So we make it through our round, wearing pink sparkly capes. I know, bold, right? Yeah that was the intention. We hot cut the wings, and a small diamond shaped piece to be the abstracted body of our winged form/ the piece to connect everything with. Lisa cut and tapered 4 copper rivets. With two minutes left in the game we lined up our last pair of holes and sunk the rivets- I couldn't believe our holes actually lined up! It was the best feeling imaginable!
The whole experience was wild. The other 7 teams created some insanely gorgeous work with meticulously fit joinery and pivoting connections. I couldn't believe the work they managed to squeeze out in 3 hours and some of them literally danced the whole time they worked. #skillz. What a crazy cool event to be a apart of. My description of the other work just won't do it justice so do yourself a service and head over to the Mobile Loaves and Fishes Instagram feed to see the photos!
My face hurt from smiling by the time I made it home and I was in desperate need of more sleep. It was a blast. I would truly recommend going next March if you can, and keeping up with the projects and learning opportunities in Austin. They've got some really good stuff going on!