Every superhero has an origin story. As my first blog entry, I feel this is mine. This is not to say that can leap tall buildings in a single bound or see through lead walls (not even Superman could do that… what was that about?), but I do have the ability to take solid steel and move it like soft clay into a shape so far from its raw form as to be unrecognizable. I can apply thousands of pounds of force into a single small location to punch through great thicknesses of iron. With my two hands and a few tools, I make solids into liquids and back again. This is my everyday. This is my passion. This, I want to do for you.
Mine has been a long, winding road to arrive here, in Portland, Oregon, a hammer in hand and an anvil beneath it. As a child, I didn’t know a blacksmith from a wizard or knight or any other facet of fantasy novels. I was a writer. I’ve always been a writer. I dreamt of someday seeing my name in print. I would scout in bookstores exactly where my work of fiction would live until purchased, pulling out the surrounding novels like they were future neighbors to whom I wished to introduce myself.
After years of writing, a move from Los Angeles to the Bay Area, where I became a corporate monkey with Charles Schwab, got married, bought a house, and, after getting laid off, graduated from UC Berkeley (Go Bears!) with a degree in English Literature with honors, I took a blacksmithing class at The Crucible in Oakland. That changed everything.
As a creative endeavor, the written word is a mixed bag. On one hand, it can be used to establish new universes with impossible natural laws and characters. On the other hand, when a writer has spent hours or days/weeks/months/years on a work, he is still only left with a piece of paper (or even more ethereal, a computer file).
Spend a number of hours or days/weeks/months/years at the forge and one is left with a tactile work, often as it was imagined. That’s not always a good thing, as a work that turns out poorly becomes a large reminder of failure taking up room in one’s shop, but from that, one can learn. And a successfully hammered or fabricated piece can be held, even hugged, and appreciated by others.
By combining both methods of creative expression, I am complete. So, here I am, writing about hammering with dirty, blacked hands and smudges on my smiling face.