Press On...Forge Ahead

by Don Meyer, Ph.D. | Jan 02, 2010

"The imagination is the limit of your creativity."
David Fisher

I love being around creative people. It doesn't matter if the raw material is wood or steel or paint or words, I am fascinated by the process creative people use to create a work of art. 

David Fisher is a blacksmith. Most often, when we think of blacksmiths, our minds turn to horses and horseshoes. David Fisher is not that kind of blacksmith. 

I recently heard him tell his story and show some of his exquisite work. The moment I looked at his creations I realized he was an unusually gifted craftsman. 

In Randy McDaniel's A Blacksmithing Primer (2004) we learn that blacksmithing is one of the oldest crafts in the world. It started with a shallow pit in the ground for the forge, goat skin bellows for the air source, and using rocks for hammer and anvil. 

McDaniel claims that the smith has probably done more to change the world than any other craft. It was the smith who forged weapons from iron that made bronze weapons obsolete and spread the use of iron across the lands. 

The blacksmith contributed to the settling of the New World by making and repairing weapons, tools, hardware, and all forms of devices for transportation. Eventually this led to assisting in our independence from other countries. It was the smith in the late 1800s who became both the engineer and mechanic who designed and built the first automobiles and assembly lines. 

In 1973 the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America was formed with just 50 members. Today there are approximately 4500 members with 50 chapters. 

David Fisher began forging in 1987 as a hobby when restoring his old farmhouse and replacing the missing crane in the walk-in fireplace. Over the years his creative interests evolved from wood to a passion for blacksmithing resulting in the founding of Fisher Forge in 1992. Since then Fisher Forge has grown to include a wide variety of products from antique car parts to kitchen utensils and just about any hand-forged item you may need. 

He has won many awards and his hardware has graced homes all over North America including the White House Christmas Tree. In 2005 David was commissioned to make hardware for the Universal Studios theme park in Florida. One of his utensil sets was photographed for the August 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Magazine in which he was listed as Martha's favorite blacksmith. 

David Fisher's story is indeed inspiring. He speaks openly of this hobby that captured his passion. He speaks of the discipline and hard work through study and trial and error to grow his talent. He speaks of his goal to develop his original idea into a thriving business. 

As with any artisan, the craftsman is known by his tools. The minimum tools you need to start forging is an anvil, a forge, a hammer, and a pair of tongs. Just as the knife was an extension of David's hand when he worked with wood, so the hammer is now an extension of his hand as he works with iron. 

The blacksmith is called the smith and his shop is called the smithy. In Longfellow's poem "The Village Blacksmith" he says, "Under the spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stands." This is the shop, not the man. And Longfellow adds, "The smith a mighty man is he." 

David Fisher's influence goes far beyond his iron handiwork. He believes in treating everyone fairly by refusing to overprice his work. He also is currently pouring his own passion and skill into a young apprentice who works side by side with him. 

Creative people do indeed inspire me and David Fisher is one of those kinds of people. I am still pondering his remark, "My wife already knows I will die with a hammer in my hand." 

When I die, I wonder what I will have in my hand. 

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of 
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA 
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