Thursday, May 28, 2009


Curiosity is a human trait. The number of people who are actually ON the cutting edge of any skill set, be it sales, production, engineering, or social studies are very few.

I asked in an open forum a few months ago "Why should I train my competition?" That being a question which can be applied to almost any business or profession. Though I felt it was a rhetorical question, I was a little curious about what was going on in people's minds when they wanted to come to me and "be my apprentice". (It happens every every single person on that blacksmithing forum.)

The answers were quite illuminating, and I am glad I asked it. Generally speaking, the blacksmiths were united in their answers which were a variation on "I'll do it if I get paid/praised/laid."
The students however seemed to be of three camps....

1) So that the skills don't get lost to perpetuity forever,

2) so that they could massage an arts and crafts bump to do a hobby, and

3) to learn enough that that they could do this as a living instead of working at the fast food franchise.

Answer 2 and 3 were expected and are totally praiseworthy of course, but I was a little surprised at the large number who answered with number one.

Its kind of funny that none of the professional blacksmiths actually said "I want to teach this because otherwise the information will be lost forever." I don't think any blacksmith, metal worker, or pretty much any professional is actually on the "cutting edge" of even re-discovered information. Perhaps people on the outside of the trade feel that that continually developing a new skill set is analagous to being on the "cutting edge", that if there are no new discoveries in the world, there are at least new discoveries in their own life.

It is really not too hard to imagine a black smith or a metalworker who does such stunning work that it stands out like Paul Anka writing and singing "My Way" . We all want that flash of genius and would love if it happened to us! I fear most will simply have to become comfortable with the metalworking equivalent of singing in the shower. The important thing, of course, is to get out and DO IT. Even a shower song is better than no song at all.

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