Most of the time when I think of art it is often surrounded by imagery of vibrant color. As human beings, most of us are fortunate to absorb through our eyes streams of color as we take in the world around us. Having said that, Gary and I were invited to spend some time with Gina and Cory Medhurst, owners of Kootenay Forge. The forge, as you would expect, is not the place to find vibrant color. What I did find was an immense dark building with shades of blackish blue all around us and one reddish orange glow coming from the propane fired forge.
Gina was kind enough to spend over an hour of her time with us, giving us a tour, and explaining all about the processes of running a forge while her husband Cory generously offered up a demonstration. Blacksmith work has been around since primitive man discovered a metal that could be manipulated when heated at very high temperatures; 2500 + degrees Fahrenheit. This discovery lead to making simple tools that were extremely useful for everyday life. Today, blacksmith work is still a practice and a skill that lives on. Gina’s father who started the forge business in Crawford Bay in 1982 has since sold the business to his daughter and her husband and passed down his skills and knowledge to them. I was thrilled to hear about their history as a matter of general appreciation for the practice of passing and carrying on skills from one generation to the next.
I got the impression that over the years Gina’s father was tirelessly innovative which only served to enhance their business and their health. He built a propane fired forge to replace the traditional coal fired which eliminated the health related risks of burning coal. As well, he built a giant drum like tumbler that uses steel punches that are recycled from a company in Nelson and that is fully ventilated minimizing fine steel dust particles from filling the room. Fascinating!
Upon the completion of Cory’s demonstration, I discovered that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder. It was mesmerizing to watch the pulsing glow of the forge as it engulfed the cold blue steel. The simplicity of the contrast between the two colors was exciting and reminded me that art is the discovery of beauty in many forms and vibrant colors are a tiny portion of that discovery.
Please be sure to watch the “Leaf Hook” demo by Cory with Gina narrating in our video below.