“In the past, if your town didn’t have a blacksmith, you didn’t have a town,” he says. “Also, the doctor and the blacksmith were the two most wealthy people in the town. I am not wealthy by any means, and nobody knows what I do. They understand welding and they understand cast iron, but I don’t cast iron. I forge it. I’m hammering that metal into a new shape.”
Despite struggling to find his niche in the world, he says “I’m staying true to the basic idea of a blacksmith, but I like to do it in more of an artful way now than maybe it would have been done in the past.”
Blacksmithing’s passage from technology to art was surely a one-way trip. Short of an economic collapse or a zombie apocalypse, it’s hard to imagine returning to a time when the smith’s forge could meet everyday needs for an entire economy. But it does make me wonder about smart phones. Hand-forged iron and steel goods were more ubiquitous in their day than cell phones. When wearable computers have replaced mobile devices—a shift that is on lots of to do lists in Silicon Valley—maybe someone like Eric Smith will revive the phone as an art form.