November 23

Insight from a Blacksmith: Backstory

Craig Chapman’s story Insight from a Blacksmith was published in the 2022 Stories of Life anthology, Bones and Blue Eyes. His story won first prize in the Short category. Craig shared these photos and accompanying commentary to help us understand the process. Thanks Craig!

The workshop

My blacksmith workshop is a purpose built structure located behind the shed in my backyard. It is designed to provide a suitable compromise of shelter from the elements and ventilation. It contains the necessary blacksmith equipment: the forge (to contain the fire and heat metal), blower, anvil, vice, hammers, tongs and other tools. The anvil is perhaps the most iconic tool associated with this craft and tends to occupy a prominent position in the workshop.

Forge and blower in operation

I operate in the “old school” way – using a solid fuel (coke) forge as opposed to a more modern gas alternative. Coke is essentially refined coal. Although there is a bit of an art to establishing the fire it provides a reliable source of intense heat. 

Supply of coke and scrap metal
Metal is shaped on the anvil in combination with regular reheating in the forge.

I describe myself as an artistic blacksmith, mainly creating garden art, signs and other decorative items.  

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Apart from providing an enjoyable creative outlet, blacksmithing continually reminds me of the biblical metaphor of being refined by fire. Just as metal must be heated and worked repeatedly before the article is fully formed, so God uses our sometimes difficult circumstances to refine us. Going through the fire is a necessary part of this process. Blacksmithing therefore provides me with opportunities to mirror God’s creativity whilst cultivating a greater awareness of his purposes for my life.

Craig has had stories published in all our anthologies since we launched this annual writing-competition-cum-publication project. You can hear him read his past stories One of the Six and Andy. To read Craig’s latest story, Insight from a Blacksmith, get your copy of Bones and Blue Eyes from our online bookstore today.

Bones and Blue Eyes is the seventh anthology in the Stories of Life series, true stories of ordinary people experiencing a connection with the divine in the context of their ‘ordinary’ lives. They are electricians, accountants, butchers, mothers, preachers, children; people grieving, people rejoicing, people helping and being helped. In each story we see individuals believing, however shakily, in a God who cares and comes to them. The writers are honest about pain, doubt, poor choices, unjust circumstances, fear… This is not a collection of neat stories, perfect doctrine, and pasted smiles. On the contrary, many are unfinished stories of people who simply acknowledge that, along their way, the God of love meets them.


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