Sometimes people ask me how I managed to get where I am as an artist-blacksmith. One of the most important things to remember is to do the best work that you are capable of at any given time. “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” Aristotle. A second trait that serves us well is tenacity. Never give up, be tenacious and keep trying to do the best job that is possible under the circumstances.
I see two things as being vital to producing good art or craft. One is the idea or concept, and the second is the quality of the execution of that idea. Neither is enough on its own. A great design or idea is not fully expressed and communicated if the craftsmanship is poor. Likewise superior crafting of a poor design tends to be empty and unsatisfying. We need both together; it’s simple, but not always so easy.
So how does an artist maintain their edge and keep their work fresh? The simple answer is by playing, by being open to new ideas and techniques. Set aside specific time during the week to work on something that is not the usual stuff, not for money, its just for your own fun. Experiment, screw things up, play with the metal and see where it takes you. There are two ways to do something, the first way and the right way, and they are never the same. By blindly attempting the new, a better way is often revealed. This kind of work is fun, if frustrating, and brings you energy and ideas. Many good ideas come directly from the work itself. The hammer, fire, and iron become your best teachers. So many hammers, so little time!