I had been a hobbyist blacksmith for 10 years, taking an Art Metal Work course taught by my neighbour at the local High School and occasional weekend courses.
In 2016 I attended the Fleming College - Haliburton School of Art and Design to complete their Artist Blacksmith program. The opportunity to attend this course came at a high price. 30 years of working in social work in shelters and doing street outreach had broken me. I lost my profession, my income, my pension and the largest part of my social network overnight. I spent the next year learning to live with my disability. It was a long year.
The HSAD program is a starting point, not a finishing school. It is a year program compressed into four months and is probably the hardest physical and mental experience of my life. I loved every minute of it and came out of the program in 2017 with a new identity.
Three years have passed and I have tempered the enthusiasm with which I embraced my new title of Certified Artist Blacksmith. I have only deep respect and gratitude for what HSAD taught me and I realize now that to be a good Artist Blacksmith is a lifetime of learning and a willingness to work harder today than yesterday. It is a tough vocation, but I could not have chosen a better way to live.