Meeting Michael Budd has significantly raised my appreciation for this ancient craft. About eight years ago, Michael heard that a local smith in Co. Sligo was looking for an apprentice. He headed off to the interview and returned six hours later....what happened during that interview changed his life. Michael told me..."When I set foot into the forge, I got this feeling I'd come home. It was very strange, but I still get that feeling when I'm in the forge. It was a few years later on that I found out my great, great Grandfather was a blacksmith along with five or six generations before him. Not that this has made me a better blacksmith but I do feel there is such a thing as genetic memory that we sometimes inherit."
This is a commissioned piece called Martin's Tree. It looks quite haunting here but absolutely beautiful.
Michael at work in his forge - he makes everything from sculptures to gates, railings to fire sets, pot racks to BBQ's but most importantly, he's able to do restoration work as well. He even makes his own tools which he feels is fundamental to improving as a blacksmith.
Michael has run his own forge in Rivertown since 2006. He told me, "I'm very passionate about my craft and feel I get so much out of it that it's my duty to encourage others to take it up. It gives me great joy that one of my former pupils has now graduated from Hereford College in the UK and is working as a blacksmith in the UK. It is sad that there is no formal training available to blacksmiths here in Ireland. Blacksmithing is one of the fundamental crafts both from a build heritage point but also from a history and Irish mythology point. It is also one of the world's oldest art forms and has been at the vanguard of every civilization for at least five thousand years. There is a wealth of heritage iron work in Ireland that is decaying or being badly restored and training in restoration is badly needed."
Wedding Altar Candles
Michael is obviously filled with his own inner passion and inspiration but he also draws inspiration from people, places, stories, nature, other artists and crafts people. He continued to explain, "It's one of the great things about doing something creative, you never really know where your next idea is going to come from. This is one of the reasons I work to commission rather than retail my work. I've been very lucky as well that my clients more often than not are happy to give me the freedom to use my inspiration. I hope this is a reflection of my work that people are confident to hand a project over to me. I strive to give the customer 100% and have always been rewarded with positive reactions to finished work."
Michael is based in Sligo Folk Park in Rivertown, Co. Sligo. I encourage you to go to his website to see more of his work. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring him at 087-6688400. Michael is a member of the Crafts Council of Ireland.
As always, this "Love Irish Crafts" blog post is part of my year long campaign to highlight creative people throughout Ireland in conjunction with the Year of the Craft 2011 - a Crafts Council of Ireland and Craft Northern Ireland initiative. (see their links at the top of my blog page).
Obviously, we need to work hard to keep this art form alive - any suggestions?