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Book Review:

Artist Blacksmith Sculpture - The Art of Natural Metalwork
by David Freedman

This book makes me think about the malleability of iron and steel when you heat it. And how it is the same with the role of the blacksmith over the centuries. A blacksmith is also a malleable thing.

We might have an old fashioned and clichéd vision of what a blacksmith is. (Probably a burly man sweating over a forge and making swords, quenching them in water). But. . .



But the role of the blacksmith has changed over the centuries. And the smith has still found a place in our modern world while still making things that have function like chairs, benches, gates and more. Yet, the smith has also grown by looking at these functional things with the eye of an artist.

Paint can be used to make art, pencils can be used to make art, clay is often used to make art. And yes, metal also can be used to make art.

And this is where this book stands. In the art of metalworking and blacksmithing.

So, what kinds of things does a modern day artist blacksmith do?

Well the book shows you some of it.

There is an interesting section on Furniture as sculpture which shows a variety of wrought iron chairs and benches that the author has made. And these works weld together both function and form.

And there is another section that shows a series of decorative gates. It's my favorite section and it also shows a little bit about how there still remains function in blacksmithing. Wrought iron gates that are also artistic have a long history. These things are functional yet they are also beautiful.

One more thing I do want to point out about this book and what a blacksmith does is to turn the cliche on it's head. What I mean is that we have this generalized impression of smiths as being rough around the edges with their work, creating wrought iron things that are sturdy, durable and big by forging stuff in fire.

But this book shows a different aspect of the modern smiths work. And nowhere is this shown better than in the authors series of pictures and notes about insect sculptures. Yup, insect scultures and all that entails including legs, wings and all kinds of smaller and more delicate parts. (Although delicate isn't quite the right word because we are working with predominantly metals).

And this ability to work in a way that is less burly and more controlled is something that I always talk about in my blacksmithing videos. I am always talking about using smaller hammers, doing finer work. Being more conscious of the details rather than the smashing of glowing hot steel with large hammers.

So what exactly is this book?

This book is written to show the range of possibilities when it comes to smithing and working with metals as an artist. The author shows us a spectrum of his works and gives us a look into the creative process by including notes and sketches and how he designed and developed the pieces.

This isn't an instructional book. There aren't any specific lessons on how to work steel or iron. If you are a blacksmith looking to expand your abilities in the design and the "art" of the craft this book will give you some valuable insights by someone who has been doing it for decades.

Or if you are a fan of the work that blacksmiths do and you want a contemporary glimpse into the evolving craft of it you will enjoy this book.


Artist Blacksmith Sculpture - The Art of Natural Metalworking by David Freedman

David Freedman has taken the art of blacksmithing in a new direction. His metal work ranges from giant insects in the woods of Scotland to seaweed inspired gates on the Cornish coast, ethereal deer in the ancient forests of England and organic seats in some of the UK's finest historic gardens.

David's unique sculptural metalwork is shown here at its best, set within the landscape that inspires its creation.

David has been forging creative metal sculptures, delicate copper water features, decorative wrought ironwork gates and much more for over 20 years from his backyard workshop in the UK.

Rather than a beginner's guide or a blacksmithing manual, this book is more than a catalogue of David's work, with stunning photographs, design notes and sketches as well as perspectives from blacksmiths around the world and a look into the forge, past and present, giving a unique window into the ancient yet ever evolving blacksmith's craft.

This collection is also a source of inspiration for those interested in garden design and garden art as well as public sculpture.



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