“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.”
― Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being
Last Sunday I made the long drive up north to Frisco. A friend of mine had told me about an open house at the Frisco Heritage Museum and Village. All the historical buildings would be open to the public. It sounded like a bit of fun, so I was there.
As I walked out of the Railroad Station I heard a series of loud metallic clangs. I turned toward the sound and there was a shower of orange sparks from a healthy flame sprouting up in the darkness of a metal shed. I recognized these as the telltale signs of a Blacksmith at work.
I walked down there and settled in, talking to the smithy at work. He was forging square nails by heating and pounding iron rods. He took special pride in his work, talking about how he had placed in some recent blacksmithing contests. Someone asked him about taking lessons and he said that Brookhaven college has a number of blacksmithing courses. After a couple of nails, he said he was done, and went over to sit down. A younger man came into the shop and began to set up his work.
“That’s one guy that learned at Brookhaven,” the original smithy said.
I walked out to see the rest of the buildings on display – the church was especially cool. Then I returned to see what the new guy was doing.
“I’m making decorative knots,” he said. He was heating rods, then bending them into a series of small loops. Finally he’d cut the knot off… and start on another. It was mostly practice in heating, forging, and bending metal – but it was pretty interesting.
He cooled one knot off in a wooden bucket of water and handed it to me. “Here’s a souvenir,” he said.
For some reason, I really like the thing.
“ARMOR, n. The kind of clothing worn by a man whose tailor is a blacksmith.”
― Ambrose Bierce, The Unabridged Devil’s Dictionary
I walked around the Dallas Heritage Village during the Jazz Age Sunday Social. I always like seeing the blacksmith shop. It was the same, with the same blacksmith as it was when I saw it almost two years ago.
I never have taken lessons there like I wanted to. Something I need to think about. Looks like fun.
In this world a man must either be anvil or hammer.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It is better to be the hammer than the anvil.
If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
When I went down to the Dallas Heritage Village and the Cedars Food Truck Park I took a little walk around the village. Back in the corner is a blacksmith’s shop. The master blacksmith was giving lessons to two students.
I stood and watched for a while. They had a coal fire going and would reach overhead and pump a huge pair of bellows to feed the fire and get the heat they needed. The students would pull their iron out of the fire and hammer it red-hot against an anvil.
This was really interesting. Maybe I’ll save some money up and buy myself a blacksmith lesson some time. It wouldn’t be very useful, but might be an interesting experience.
I was reminded of the blacksmith shop when, a couple weeks later, I was riding my bike around Fair Park. I was looking at and trying to photograph the series of amazing art deco murals on the six porticos along the Esplanade (I’m working on a blog entry… patience).
One of the murals shows a bare-chested smith hammering a piece of iron against a huge anvil. He is holding his hammer over his head, while next to him a helmeted welder is working away. A little more dramatic and artistic than the little blacksmith’s shop – but it’s the same general idea.