Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Chipper; The Evening After

I did remember to pick the thing up, and spent a fair piece of the afternoon cutting off the stuff small enough to run through, then doing some more pruning of small stuff and chipping it, then stacking the big stuff for later. Then put everything away so the Yard Security Trainee won't decide to chew the cord in two.

So now my hands hurt, and I've got enough scratches to look like I fought with my daughters psychotic cat. And I got to watch Trainee sniffing through the chips and finding somehow 'choice' bits to chew up further. Between this and the way she jumps, I have to wonder if the little bastard has some rabbit in her family tree.

While performing these joyous activities, I was considering my forge and tools, and an old saying. You've probably heard it: "Do what you love and the money will follow". Guess what? They LIED! I've spent a total of about 24 years smithing; learning, trying, recycling failures, getting ideas and working them out. I've turned out blades of all types and sizes, roasting forks, candleholders, fire kits, chandeliers, screwdrivers, belt buckles, pennanular brooches, knife/fork/spoon sets and I don't know what all else. I've been at the big Irish Festival in Texas, several different celtic festivals there and here, Medieval Fair and some other stuff including fur trade rendezvous. And the best I've done, figuring materials, coal, electricity for the blower, grinding belts and polishing stuff, travel and etc., would be somewhere at or just below minimum wage. There are some people who fill a particular niche in forging and make a good living at it; most live somewhere in the region of 'hand to mouth' and do other things on the side to make ends meet. I have no idea how many fine bladesmiths I've heard of who got hurt or something and couldn't work for a while and were on welfare or people were taking up collections for them. And if it's a health problem it's worse because they usually don't have insurance.

Don't misunderstand, I have loved the making and learning of this. I enjoy the hell out of demonstrating and teaching this stuff, and I wish I had more of a way to pass on what I've learned. It just irritates the hell out of me when someone with a disgustingly cheerful outlook tells some kid the above-noted saying. I never tried to discourage my kids from trying things, and working to be good at what they like; I did make sure they understood that there are bills to pay and obligations to take care of, and that doing something just because you like it often has to take second place. And what REALLY pisses me off is when someone(parents, coaches, teachers) tells a kid who doesn't really have the talent for a game or instrument or whatever that they do and pushes them halfway to death. A kid tries hard but just doesn't have that extra bit, don't lie to them; tell them the damn truth. Yeah, they may hurt, but they'll hurt more if you push/let them run into something they can't make it at. Make damn sure they understand that if they love doing it that they should continue to do so, but don't lie to them and let them make it their life.

Other side of that? A kid with real talent that nobody will push the kid to develop. Talent, if you don't develop the skills to use it, is worthless; no matter how incredibly talented you are, if you don't work at it you won't make it. There are very rare exceptions, but hoping you may be one of them is not the way to make it.

God, how did I get here from running limbs through a chipper?

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