Blacksmith forges a new path

Kendall forges a path in blacksmithing

Life & Style
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Mallee blacksmith John Kendall has been honing his skills for more than eight years, and says he has seen a resurgence in demand for quality, long-lasting metal pieces.

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WITH the advent of the industrial revolution, blacksmithing almost became a dying art.

But a recent resurgence in demand for quality, long-lasting metal pieces is occurring, according to Mallee blacksmith John Kendall.

"It is quite surprising how many people are coming to blacksmiths, because they want that solid piece of work that is going to last," he said.

"And they don't mind spending that bit extra, or waiting that bit longer for it to be created, knowing that it is going to last - it is an appreciated art."

John has been honing his blacksmithing skills for more than eight years, in his workshop called The Kendall Forge at Pinnaroo.

"Back in the olden days, everything was done at the blacksmith shop, from weddings to dentistry, nails to house fixtures, farrier work to armour and blades - if it was metal they could make it, if it was sore they would pull it out," he said.

"They were centrepiece of any town.

"Blacksmiths are the reason why we have engineers today, they were the first panel beaters, mechanics, blacksmiths had a major hand in making the first Model T Ford, they made the first lathe, they made the first tune in music.

"I was always making things out of wood with my pop and then in high school, I was always into tech, always tinkering around with scrap metal and hard rubbish, welding things together."

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One of John's first achievements was making a home-built motorbike out of an old bicycle, scrap metal and a lawnmower engine.

After school, he completed a Certificate 1 in sheet metal engineering and Certificate 3 in Micro Business Operations.

"When we first moved to Pinnaroo, I was working on farms here and forging as a hobby, until five years ago when I decided to go full-time as a business," he said.

"It find it brings great focus to my life, giving me a bit of an outlet/release as I once had anger management issues - I don't anymore.

"Heat, beat and repeat."

John is only one of five registered blacksmiths in the state, but he says it is a growing industry because of hobbyists.

John Kendall has been honing his blacksmithing skills for more than eight years, in his workshop called The Kendall Forge at Pinnaroo.

John Kendall has been honing his blacksmithing skills for more than eight years, in his workshop called The Kendall Forge at Pinnaroo.

John teaches forging himself, and has his own mentor - Marty Veenstra, who runs the Port of Echuca blacksmith shop in Vic.

"Marty has taught me to blacksmith the proper way, from hammer technique to reading the fire and reading the steel, where to hit it, what to look for - he has taught me a lot," he said.

John said he makes a lot of campsets, along with dog tags, gates, ornaments, armour, swords and axes.

"Often I will also make something and put a price on it," he said.

"I can't shoe a horse yet, it is something I hope to learn in the future."

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John sells pieces online, but also attends farmers' markets, country shows and medieval fairs.

"It's taken me a lot of places," he said.

"We get a lot of business from markets and medieval fairs we attend. Obviously a lot of them have been cancelled now so we will depend more on online orders."

One day, John hoped to have his own workshop or shop front in the main street of Pinnaroo to sell his pieces and showcase forging.

"It'd be great to have somewhere to show people what we can do," he said.

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