Thursday, 1 January 2015

Blacksmith Doris Report

Both Nick Hackett, President of ABA (Vic) and I were asked to speak about our work in the Eesti Kunstiakadeemia ( Estonian Academy of Arts ) Tallinn, Estonia.  We spoke to a class of students at the University there who were studying art, majoring in blacksmithing.  I was also asked to explain Blacksmith Doris.  They had heard from Sarah Johnston, a Doris who is an exchange student in Tallinn, about our group and were surprised that we would have the need for a blacksmithing gathering just for women.

I discussed our reasons stating that in Australia there are hardly any places to study blacksmithing. I explained that women felt awkward trying to learn with a group of men where there are expected ways of doing things, as they feel that they will be judged.  As I spoke I could see on the faces of some of the women students that they understood.

As far as I know Blacksmith Doris is fairly unique.  Australia has only a short  blacksmithing tradition and there is no longer much call for a smithing career, so blacksmithing is more of a lifestyle choice rather than a way of earning a living.  There are women around the world who sell the work that they make when blacksmithing so they are established and organised.  

There is a group of women who are dedicated and regularly come to Doris, as well as new comers.  Blacksmith Doris has become a place where woman can meet with the intention of being at the forge.  There is freedom in knowing how to build a fire that will heat steel well enough to move it with a hammer, and to be able to make things with that steel.  Some Doris’ enjoy learning traditional blacksmithing while others just hit the metal, happy to see where that process will take them.  Those that have knowledge share.  Some come for the company and others to draw.  There are no expectations and no judgement.  There is no obligation to complete a product.

The group would like to thank the committee for allowing us to have one Saturday of every month dedicated to women who wish to blacksmith; and the members for respecting the fact for another year.  We appreciate it.

A new year means a new timetable:

January 3
February 7
March 7
April 4
May 2
June 6
July 4
August 1
September 5
October 3
November 7
December 5

I wish you all the best for the year ahead.

Mary Hackett

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