Smithing as a profession...

How many people here work with metal, in an artistic form, as a profession? Is it lucrative? Difficult career?
I'm in college, and have been thinking about pursuing other things than my
major, once I've graduated....
Any information appreciated. ~Dancing
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DancingLavoisier wrote:

I don't know how many, but I have worked with metal - quite a bit of which went on a horse's foot - for almost 50 years. I also do the artsy fartsy thing with illustrated firescreens, gates and signage. It ain't blacksmithing, but it pays the bills.

If you're not lazy, you can make a living, but you won't get rich.

In terms of physical labor, it's much more difficult than any sedentary occupation; in terms of personal satisfaction - for folks like myself - it's infinitely superior to any other occupation.

Folks who make their living fooling with hot iron range from PhD's to elementary school dropouts - but all of us consider ourselves blessed.

You have to follow your muse.
--
Tom Stovall, CJF
Farrier & Blacksmith
  Click to see the full signature.
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I agree with Tom.
I have been a full time knifemaker for a year after my corporate job dried up and the company closed. I decided to not look for another job but to instead take my 12 year hobby in knifemaking and building things out of metal, and try to make a go at it. I have never been poorer, but I have never been happier. You have to be driven and not procrastinate or you will fail. I think the hardest part, at least for me, is getting people to know you are there and what you can do.
Tom has enough history to be further along than I am as a business owner and can give more "success" advise, but I am making it and things are getting better every day.
Tom said he makes "artsy fartsy" things in addition to his shoeing and I think that most people in this type of work cannot dedicate to ONLY their one favorite. I make knives (my favorite) but I also make plant moving carts for a guy that sells nursery supplies. I also make gates, fences, hydraulic presses and treadle hammers for sale.
If you really want to do this, try to get more than one product. When one goes cold for a while, the others may heat up.
Good luck, be happy.
Bob www.warnerknives.com
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Immediately join ABANA (abana.org) and your local abana affiliate and start asking questions. You can get a lot of answers by attending the ABANA conference this summer. There will be about 1000 people there who can all render you an opinion. I think there are lots of good artist blacksmiths around this country, a few of whom are making a decent living, many more who are scraping by and a handful who are making a real good living at it. The most successful of them (my opinion) have hit on unique marketing schemes that make the difference, assuming that they all have good general business skills and are self starters. Read about Samuel Yellin.
Pete Stanaitis ----------------
DancingLavoisier wrote:

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ABANA is an excelent resource but you should also contact NOMMA (National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Assoc. 532 Forest Parkway, Ste A, Forest Park GA 30297 404-363-009) Many of NOMMA's members make a very good living at modern"smithing" NOMMA has a publication I believe which gives some career information Best of luck.
Regards, Charles

profession?
my
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DancingLavoisier wrote:

Want some real advice? Get an engineering degree and do the smithing as a money-making hobby. What we need now are engineers, because we're losing the race to the Moon to the Pacific Rim.
Yeah, I beat hot metal. It can pay the bill$, but it's killing me slowly. It's my Art, and one is supposed to suffer for one's Art. I have little burn scars everywhere, yep, even there. I have a permanent sunburn on my face and neck from the UV, it never goes away. Of course, there is an upside, finger tight is now 10 foot pounds, cylinder heads aren't that heavy anymore, lifting weights in a sauna is very healthful, the toxins don't have a chance to settle into the cells, and due to the EPA, I never have to worry about black lung disease from the coal. High tech, son... that's where the money is. We're a vanishing breed, because the World has moved on to CAD/CAM and molecular electronics, and the suits in Marketing make that more sparklingly desirable than hand craftsmanship.
Charly the Bastard the Last Dworf in Ansteorra Head Metal Forger In Charge, Dwarven Metals
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Damn, I guess I scared him off.
Charly the Bastard wrote:

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"DancingLavoisier" <dancinglavoisier(A-T)charter.net> wrote in message

I have been involved full-time as a metalsmith since 1974. What made it possible for me to do this was to offer metal repair, restoration and preservation, in addition to my original metal work. I believe that there is a LOT of money to be made repairing metalware (go here to read my essay about this: http://walkermetalsmith.com/jrw_essays.htm ).
If you want to know more, check out my website which has a lot of info about this: walkermetalsmith.com.
Good luck. --James R. Walker, Metalsmith
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