“A dull ring drew Richard’s attention to a leather-aproned blacksmith smiting black iron on the anvil. The bellows roared as the man pulled the iron from the forge that glowed red, orange, yellow, and white, but Richard had no time to watch him shape the hot metal with his hammer and return it to the fire for remolding.
He hurried on, contemplating how heavy iron pieces could be turned into kettles, shovels, hooks, and knives–and how old tools could be shaped into new ones.”
(excerpt from “Stone’s Hope”)
In the early 1900’s, when my grandpa was fourteen, he started working in his father’s blacksmith shop. A few years later he ran his own business shoeing circus elephants and horses used by the fire department. With the introduction of automobiles, like other blacksmiths at that time, he joined the first generation of auto mechanics.
As a blacksmith, Grandpa’s work bench was the anvil where he positioned the metal to be forged. His tools were the hammer for forming, the chisel and hardy for cutting, and tongs for holding the hot metal.The slack tub for cooling the hot metal and controlling the fire was close by.
He would place the workpieces in the fire until it was malleable and ready for shaping by the impact of the hammer. To bend pieces, he hammered the metal over the anvil’s edge, or by the processes referred to as drawing and upsetting, he was able to refine the metal into different shapes.
To begin with, the metal was useless in itself, but applying a very hot fire and lots of hammering, the smith formed useful tools, vessels or horseshoes. If the product was not right, back it went into the fire until he was satisfied. He even remade old tools and vessels by the same process of heating and hammering.
It makes me wonder how similar I am to that unbending piece of iron that God wants to use. Am I willing to let Him place me? Can I accept that the fire is for making me pliable so the hammer can then shape me into a tool usable for His service? The anvil, fire and hammer do not appeal to me, but neither do I want to be useless. Who better to submit to than the master smith? In His hands I can be assured that His work is perfect.
September 24, 2014 at 11:49 am
Loved Stone’s Hope, can’t wait for the follow up. Your grandfather definitely put a new spin on being a blacksmith! You have so much rich family history to draw from.
September 24, 2014 at 11:53 am
Thank you, Leigh. I’m working on it. My grandfather, the blacksmith, is a different side of the family than the one in Stone’s Hope. I also have potters, milliners, military–all fodder for more novels.