Bladesmithing

Piece originally written for Image Interiors and Living.

Hidden in the idyllic lakeside-landscape of Russborough in County Wicklow, on a crisp Saturday morning, the therapeutic process of bladesmithing is in progress.

Slowly hammering the heated metal on our anvils, sculpting it to the shape of a knife, a group of six of us, ranging in age and skill, are mastering the art under the watchful eye of Danish-born blacksmith, Gunvor Anhøj.

I’ve opted for a knife with a curved handle, which involves manipulating my metal to a circular shape before using the hammer to bend and mould it into the shape desired – a task that involves concentration and patience. As the morning continues, excitement takes over as the final piece begins to form. Others, keener woodworkers than I, choose a simple handle, which allows them to add to it at home.

By the time lunch arrives, our faces have taken on the sooty sheen of a true blacksmith. We eat in the nearby café, before spending the afternoon learning a series of heat treatments (namely, normalising and hardening) that allows us to sharpen the blade, and sand our pieces to their shining glory. The final stage, tempering, is for us to do at home. To decrease brittleness, my oven is being used to brown my knife to a straw colour, before taking pride of place in my knife collection.

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