The Artist’s Corner – Forging Ahead with Madeline Bailey

Enjoy this post featuring another talented artist who helped make the Realm book launch celebration memorable. I discovered Madeline at the Hartville Flea Market, where I picked up her card because I was impressed with a young woman working the forge. After perusing her website, I knew she could make a pendant that would be a perfect depiction of something a character in my novel would create and wear.

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is Madeline. I am a 19-year-old female artist. I enjoy creating things, whether it be digital art or traditional art, crochet, and writing. My passions are blacksmithing and knifemaking.

What has your experience been?

I’ve been a blacksmith/bladesmith for almost seven years now. I’ve apprenticed under Lockhart Ironworks and Maple Wood Forge. I’ve won awards in Southern Ohio Forge & Anvil’s Quadstate Gallery and am constantly learning from other makers.

Do you put yourself into your forging?

I try to do my best with everything I make. A lot of experience, trial and error, and problem-solving goes into just knowing how to do a simple scroll or taper, even more so how to do it well or quickly. I don’t always succeed how I’d like on the first try, but how I deal with that is also a culmination of patience and a willingness to try again. 

Did your work experience lead to the pursuit of metalworking?

Blacksmithing is the first job I’ve ever really had. I’ve always liked to create things, and the opportunity to learn how to be a blacksmith has been incredible. Something to note is how blacksmithing is the core of so many other fields, and it creates a base knowledge for many other crafts, like welding, farrier work, copper or silver work, jewelry, knifemaking, and many more. I get to explore outward with each new project I try.

How did you develop your passion for metalworking?

I’ve always loved art and helping others, and I never really felt intimidated by the fact that not many young women are blacksmiths. When I was around age twelve, my school had an assignment encouraging us to find someone we could shadow for a day in a job that we liked. I chose blacksmithing. My parents were incredibly supportive even through the difficulty of finding one. I was welcomed into one of Doug Lockhart’s beginner classes and started an apprenticeship soon afterward. I continue to learn and grow in gratitude for my craft each time I pick up the hammer.

What or who is your inspiration?

My family and friends have always been my biggest support. They’ve allowed my interest in this to thrive into a business and continue to be there for me throughout everything. My mentors and the blacksmithing community, their history, and their dedication to the craft are wonderful inspirations as well. In the past year, my unofficial fiancé has been a great motivator especially since he shares my craft, albeit more on the bladesmithing side of things. His own dreams, aspirations, and his unending support are wonderful, and I hope we can continue to help each other far into the future.

What do you enjoy creating?

I love figuring out new things. A good portion of what I sell is of my own design and took many tries to get right. Complex projects always push me forward and give reasons as to why I love blacksmithing. Some of these projects are trivets, scissors, bourbon glass holders, and folding knives.

Where can someone find you online?

You can find me on Instagram.  This account features a number of projects and reals depicting the steps of my processes and showcases my finished works.

Do you have a website?

Everflame Forge is my current website, although I’m developing a new one.

Have you competed in contests?  What awards have you won?

I’ve been in the Southern Ohio Forge & Anvil’s Quadstate gallery for six years now and have won awards most of those years. My first knife, a wine glass holder, and a folding knife won first place, along with other projects getting second and third. Although now that I’m no longer in the youth category, I’m ready for a bigger challenge. 

Have you been featured in a magazine or other publication?

Not yet! Primarily, I sell items through commissioned orders and from my table when I demonstrate blacksmithing at The Hartville Marketplace’s Moonlight Markets. Also, my new website will have online ordering available.

Do you create metal items for people?  How does a client contact you?

Yes, I’ll do my best to talk with anyone who wishes to buy or commission my work, hoping to find a way to make something they like at a fair price. Currently, the best place to contact me is Instagram, although my email works just as well albeit slower.

What is your process for creating an item?

First, I have to figure out the steps it takes to make it and if I have all of the materials. Using the forge, I can heat metal to over 1,800° F. I can control the temperature by how much and how long the metal is exposed to the flame to get an optimal forging color where the metal is soft enough to shape. Other temperatures are needed for different parts of the forging process, such as quenching and tempering. Using a hammer, I can draw the metal out, flatten, round, taper, bend, and texture it. Sometimes, I’ll use pliers or a jig to achieve a particular bend and a butcher’s block brush to remove scale. Depending on the work, I’ll use a belt grinder, angle grinder, drill press, sandpaper, and other tools. I usually finish by quenching in a particular oil to protect against rust and preserve my work for generations to come.

How is what you create for yourself different from what you create for other people?

What I create for myself is usually prototypes. I test and grow my ability by trying to make new things and that often leads to experimentation. If I like an idea enough to make it again, it ends up as one of the things I try to make regularly to sell. 

Has your work ever been used for commercial purposes?

Most of my work is for the personal use of my clients. 

What’s your favorite metal piece that you’ve created?

I’d have to say that so far, the favorite of my works is a lockback pocketknife, one of the first blades I’ve made. It really pushed my experience and took a couple of tries but is a testament to how far I can go. It’s far from perfect, but it always makes me excited to keep trying.

What’s your dream piece to create?

So far, I’ve been able to make a lot of what I’ve put my mind to, but I hope to get into more Damascus steel soon. I’m very excited to be able to work together with my fiancé on Damascus knives in the future.

What’s your biggest complaint about blacksmithing?

I wouldn’t complain about blacksmithing so much as the trouble I have with motivation on occasion. My energy is stretched between a lot of different things. Often, I spend time in my head. I am learning to control this and prioritize myself and my work.

Would you like to work full-time as a blacksmith?  If so, how do you see your business growing?

I would love to work full-time as a blacksmith. I’ll do my best with where I am now, but I definitely hope to partner up with my fiancé and build our businesses together doing what we love.

Do you work alone or with a partner?

While I love working with other people, I work by myself currently. It leaves room for the unfortunate side effects of demotivation and distraction. Although, every once in a while, I’m able to spend time with one of my mentors or friends making something. As I’ve said, hopefully that will soon change, and I’ll be able to work with my life partner.

%d bloggers like this: