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 Cold, hard iron seems an unlikely medium with which to create organic form. Its nature is strong and stubborn. The methods used to manipulate this material seem so antithetical to natural process. It is, after all, a process of intense heat and violent force that allows the blacksmith to change the shape of the material and create form and line to suit some preconceived design . But the irony is that the hot metal cannot simply be beaten into obedience. The work must reflect an intimate understanding of the nature of the material and the processes of blacksmithing. The work, to be good, must be a cooperative effort between brain, eye, hand, heat, hammer and anvil. A young smith's work always looks forced and beaten up. With time and understanding comes increased grace of form with less effort. In many ways the popular image of the blacksmith being master by brute strength over a difficult medium is simply wrong. The best work comes from the hands of a smith comfortable enough to dance and play with the hot metal. At this point, it seems a very natural process indeed. The iron withdrawn from a coal fire at yellow heat is placed on the anvil with respect, like a living thing, and is forged into a new alignment. The rhythmic hammer adds energy with each blow-- energy direct from the smith's body. During that brief time of forgeable heat, it's as though the smith's energy and the energy of the hot metal conspire to allow the new form to emerge.

-John Little

 

 

John Little is a Nova Scotian blacksmith/sculptor. He was born in Newark, New Jersey (USA) in 1943. Having received a BA from Brown University in 1966, John pursued a Master's degree in psychology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since 1970 he has been a full-time blacksmith in East Dover, Nova Scotia and has exhibited locally, nationally and internationally, with works in private and public collections. His architectural work can be found throughout Atlantic Canada. For over 30 years John has been forging iron and steel into decorative and sculptural forms. His commitment to exploration of form, technique, and innovation has consistently led him in new and exciting directions. Inspired by his lifelong involvement with percussion he has recently discovered some very interesting acoustic possibilities related to forged sculptural objects. His sound sculptures have been used in a variety of new music genres from orchestral to dance to jazz.