Blacksmith Workshop History

Parksville Museum Forge: 2017

The Parksville Museum Forge project features western Canada’s only full-sized traditional Japanese style swordsmith forge. As an artist in residence, the plan is to have a variety of work going on in the workshop during the Friday markets throughout the summer. Learn about the construction process.

Island Blacksmith: Traditionally crafted knives from reclaimed steel.
Built to traditional specifications using reclaimed and natural materials.

The Island Blacksmith: 2011-the present

The island workshop is located in a portion of a shared creative arts space. Plenty of rusty old tools and scrap metal to add character and a few modifications including shelves, doors, a boardwalk, a chimney, and some lighting transformed the eight by twelve space into a very useable and inspiring blacksmith shop. Tour the forge, or see the workshop set up archives.

Day 6 of the secret island workshop set up.
Back in Business, the first lighting of the forge at the Island Blacksmith Workshop in 2011.

The Wandering Years: 2002-2011

During this time, workshop space and time were scarce. Most of the metal work during this time was done in situ or in makeshift locations. Mainly fabrication like coping for skateboard ramps, boxes and ledges, playground equipment and fencing, and general repairs made up the bulk of the projects. Dave was fortunate enough to be able to spend some time teaching at a design school in Japan, and to be invited to make a spontaneous cameo appearance at the Barkerville blacksmith shop one day.

Hammertime at Barkerville Historic Village.
Cameo appearance at Barkerville’s Blacksmith Shop.

The Barn Shed: 1995-2001

After the proving grounds of a couple of cold winters in the lean-to, the small barn-shaped shed next door became available for use. The eight by twelve foot workshop improved on the previous shop with a woodstove, electric power for tools, shelter from the rain and snow, and more dry storage space.

The first Crossed Heart Forge workshop building.

The Portable Set-up: 1995

This was a stripped-down version of the workshop that was used for a public blacksmithing and heritage crafts demonstration as part of an artisan street fair in the Kensington district of Calgary.

Outdoor heritage crafts demonstration in conjunction with The Pine Shop.

The Lean-to: 1992-1994

The first top-secret workshop consisted of a six by eight foot tin roof on posts wedged between two sheds and a fence. The roof had a hole to accommodate the tree that shared the floor space. Offering little protection from the winter wind and snow, it was later modified slightly to enclose the high side and some of the openings.

Interior view of the original Crossed Heart Forge lean-to.
View of the lean-to roof, the workshop is completely off the grid.

The Village Blacksmith Shop: 1992

This shop, where I undertook some short-term training, belonged to Mr. Emmanuel A. Schrock, Blacksmith. It was located in the former livery stables in Fredericksburg, Ohio. Plenty of space and many tools and raw materials to choose from. Read about Mr. Schrock and see more pictures of the shop here: islandblacksmith.ca/emmanuel-schrock/

Emmanuel A. Schrock: The Village Blacksmith Shop.
The forge and anvil in the shop of Emmanuel A. Schrock, where I had my first training.

The Outdoor Trials: 1990-1991

Preliminary experiments with heating metal were mainly aimed at quenching and tempering steel for small stock removal blades. Various configurations of empty coffee cans and reversed vacuum cleaners had varying degrees of success and very short lifespans. It was these crude trials, though, lit by moonlight and the swirling glow of dancing flame and spark, that first imparted the love of mastering the art of combining fuel, air, fire, and steel.


Read more about the beginnings of my metal working journey here: A Brief History