The Contemporary Blacksmith Hardcover

By: Dona Z. Meilach – Published: 2000

The Contemporary Blacksmith

Price : $ – Amazon

Philip’s Ranking: 3
Beginner Blacksmith: 0
Advanced Blacksmith: 0
Inspiration: 4
Historical: 0

Video Review: N/A

Dona Meilach has collected over 500 photos of ironwork from 175 blacksmiths in this 250 page review of some of the best blacksmiths at 2000. 

This was one of the first books I picked up, from Half-Priced books, when I started blacksmithing and when I looked through it I was pretty disappointed. I had hoped that it would be a great book for inspiration but as I flipped through the pages I saw photos of project after project I had no idea how to even start going about constructing and I put the book up on my shelf with little intention to return to it.

Looking through it again 5 years later with a lot more blacksmithing under my belt my opinion on this book is very different. There are still a lot of projects that I am unlikely to be able to recreate, such as a 20 foot tall public art sculptures, but now that I’m not coming at the book without trying to find beginner projects in it I like it a whole lot more. The extra years of experience also make it a lot easier to understand how inspiration from these works could be incorporated in my own projects.

Dona breaks the works up into thematically similar chapters:

  • The Artist Blacksmith: Past and Present: pgs. 9-30
  • Tools, Techniques, and Safety Cautions: pgs. 31- 50
  • Architectural Ironwork: pgs. 51-90
  • Sculpture: pgs. 91-128
  • Vessels and Containers: pgs. 141-154
  • Furniture: pgs. 155-176
  • Lighting: pgs. 177-196
  • Fireplace Accessories: pgs. 197-214
  • Specialty Objects: pgs. 215-230
  • Blade Smithing: pgs. 231-240
  • It Is Said… Artist’s Statements: pgs. 241-250

All the works are are well shot and the photos do a great job of highlighting the artists work. 

One of the most interesting chapters is the final chapter “It Is Said” where almost every artist who has work presented in the book is able to provide a short statement about who they are.  I especially appreciate this as historically so much ironwork goes unattributed and many of the greatest smiths of history are unnamed and unknown individuals. 

Overall I gave this a 3 out of 5 stars mostly because many of the works will be beyond the normal hobby blacksmith.  If you are a professional blacksmith or advanced hobbysmith I’d give this more in the 4-5 star range.