Beating hot metal is somehow primordial. God gave humankind the ability to observe and learn by experimentation. When my son Levi and I get his forge up and running it’s an elemental creative experience.
Like sailing a boat; all you’ve got is the breath of God, and a properly designed sail. He just pulls you forward as long as you cooperate with the wind.
Working a forge is similar; you’ve got fuel (coal or wood), and a blower for air (we don’t have a bellows – not yet anyway). Together they make a really hot fire that’ll melt your work if you’re not paying attention. It takes patiently acquired experience to manage the fire, and get the metal up to the right temperature.
Like sailing, you’ve got to watch your wind and trim the sails for the maximum pull. At the forge, you’ve got to watch your fire for maximum heat, and the metal so you don’t just burn it up. You know it’s too hot when you pull a sparkler out of the fire on your way toward the anvil.
Neither of us knows much about what we’re doing, but we’re fearlessly experimenting all the same. We’re having a great time learning together, and realizing just how elemental this craft really is. So far Levi has made a few knives out of old railroad spikes and files. Files make very good blades; ducedly good steel! He’s even begun working on his first sword.
I love elemental creativity. It’s about simple ingredients all working in harmony to make amazing things.