At a time when almost everything can be made by machines, it’s such a delight to find people who still prefer to do things purely by the hand. Blacksmithing is not an exception here. Currently based in New Jersey, U.S.A, Ryu Lim is a Filipino blacksmith, born and raised in Pampanga who also won in History Channel’s Forged in Fire blade-making show. A full-time real panday with 17 years of experience under his belt, he shares to us a thing or two about his craft that is Blacksmithing.
From fascination to passion
In a nutshell, Blacksmithing is the art of deforming a raw piece of metal with a hammer and fire, transforming it in to something both beautiful and useful. Ryu notes, a blacksmith however, “is the general term for a person who works metal by hand. Although there are other terms used to specify exactly what the smith specializes on. For instance, a Bladesmith works with steel and mainly makes blades such as knives, swords, axes, and other sharp tools.”
According to Ryu, he was first introduced to the art when he was still a kid while watching the blacksmiths of Arayat, Pampanga work their magic. As he has always been mesmerized by the use of fire, hammer, and steel, it didn’t take him too long to realize how his curiosity and fascination further grew into passion and obsession.
Transforming dull to pretty
“Blacksmithing is for anyone, as long as he or she is willing to sacrifice hours of labor, blood and sweat for something they truly believe in and take pride on. It's not for people who are afraid to get their hands dirty,” Ryu says. And as it takes a lot of time, practice, and dedication to learn, as per Ryu, “It's not the easiest thing to do at first, but definitely very rewarding once you see yourself improve in the craft.”
For him, nothing is more satisfying than seeing pieces of raw materials and that with the aid of his hands, the fire and his hammer, he can watch them transform into a thing of beauty and functional art.
Hands on fire
“For all of those who wish to try their hands on this craft, I suggest you just go for it,” Ryu encouragingly says. He also has these five things you can take note of should you decide to pick up that hammer and put your hands on fire:
1. “It's only hard at first, but everything is hard at first. As you get used to it, it becomes more and more fulfilling and rewarding.”
2. “If it is something you can love and be passionate about, follow your heart and keep working and pushing yourself.”
3. “Never be satisfied with your own work.”
4. “Keep challenging yourself and sharpening your skills.”
5. “Be your own toughest critic. Oh, and safety first!”
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Photographs from Instagram.com/ryu.lim