Catherine Oddie talks to John Loveluck, principal blacksmith at Anvil Forge
The modern world can be a funny place. We seem to be ruled by digital devices; source most of our things from a superstore/online and inhabit a culture of instant gratification, digital dependency and mass-production.
From their busy Berkshire-based forge, the Loveluck family offer us an alternative. They run various blacksmithing courses, with each participant creating a useful, long lasting and often elegant item to take home. Most popular is the Anvil Forge Blacksmith Experience Day, but their themed courses Dragon Making, and Star Wars ,'may the forge be with you' also fill up quickly. Following the huge success of the TV programme ‘Forged in Fire', Anvil Forge now run a ‘Forged in Farley: knife making’ course enabling fans of the show to try blade-smithing for real..
Talking to John Loveluck about the Parent & Child blacksmithing days, we mused on the complete break from the modern world that his forge offers people. When they come to spend the day in the forge, these parent-child duos leave behind their chores, homework, devices and spend some intentional time together. They achieve something they would not have otherwise been able to realize and they end up forging, not only metal, but new bonds with each other. In learning new skills they discover what they are capable of and they take something home about which they can say “we made that together”.
On one such course, the son wanted to make a sword so John suggested that the mother make something complementary and they decided on a dragon-claw wall-bracket to display the sword (pictured). These one-day courses provide the opportunity for people to learn new skills and discover the pleasure of making something useful that will last forever. The hands-on process of forging metal brings a dynamic respite from digital, sedentary, everyday lives.
Blacksmithing does seem to capture people’s imagination – perhaps because it is so far-removed from most people’s usual activities: “One bloke said to me at the end of a course 'If the apocalypse comes you’ll be made!' and there’s something to that as we’re the ones who would make the tools and the weapons!” Aside from the obvious advantage of surviving any pending apocalypse, John gets a huge amount out of the knowledge that they are offering a memory that will last a lifetime. After all, how many people have spent the day as a blacksmith? Or forged something out of metal with their bare hands?
Thanks to the Lovelucks, the numbers are increasing.