The first sentence, the opening phrase is always the most important one. So help me out here! How does one start to describe that for which there are no words? OK, I have words. But what I struggle with is to put them into coherent sentences. It’s like when you have the most amazing experience of your life and your brain stores the information in bursts or flashes and not one continuous movie. Your feelings are that of the adrenaline pumping at high speed and an extra dose of euphoria and that clouds everything! So how should I put THAT into words?

Imagine me arriving at the festival site of BathIron and without warning being swept up and immersed into the strange world of the blacksmiths. Imagine 2 metric tons of coke for the forges. I was surrounded by smoke, acrid foul smelling thick smoke that enveloped me and held me in its arms for three days. Imagine being surrounded by close to a hundred blacksmiths and aspiring students (even children) who were united under one generous cause: to rebuild the balustrades of the band stand in the Parade Gardens in the center of Bath. Imagine blacksmiths folding a rigid metal right in half like I fold gnocchi pasta on Sundays. Like there is really nothing to it! Imagine these very same demi-gods – because by now I am sure they cannot be human! – coming one after another and shaking hands with my companion, Mr Huber, and me translating every word, thought, anecdote. And imagine that I have never translated before in my life! Imagine that at the screening of the documentary there are close to a hundred people holding their breath and looking with awe at the film. And these very same hundred people bombarding you with questions for an hour,, hour and a half afterwords.

Translating and explaining what a blacksmith does was both a challenge and a pleasure. I learnt more than I can say about the characteristics of iron, the fire, and mundane things like sand.
Mr Huber’s masterpiece on display at BathIron.
The younger generation having a go at the trade of the blacksmith.

At the end of the day I was sooty, smelled like a smoked trout and was exhausted beyond anything I can describe. Yet I felt so incredibly happy! Each one of the blacksmiths was the most humble, unselfish person I have met. Ready to help and share those who want to learn the trade. All in hyper focus, working in unison and doing their very best and beyond to achieve the goal of the festival. And the balustrade they created is beyond any beauty I have seen. I felt humbled.


So why all the musical related pieces? For one, because the balustrades are going to be on a band stand. But also, because a young musician wrote a piece which was immortalized by forging its notes onto the balustrades. So, if you can read music and you circle the band stand you’ll be humming the below melody. Brilliant!


Go take a look at the other pictures and footage which were taken at the festival. If you look closely you might even find me explaining details of The Devil’s Blacksmith documentary. Better yet! Go look for a blacksmith festival in your area. It is worth it!!


Photos by Niki Jewett for BathIron @bathironfest and NHIG@hertiageironwork unless otherwise noted.