Please click on the photos for a larger image
"The Preservation of Spirit" Hammers are inspired by people. People that stand out, stimulate, and excel. They drift towards the uncommon, the unseen, and elevate the human spirit. They are colorful individuals.
Through design, I'd like to capture their extraordinary personalities, and create a tool that preserves their unusual way of thinking."
Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
In 1997 I was invited by Ray Robinson to visit the LMF Foundry in Laurel, Mississippi. I stayed with Ray and his family for several days. Ray had built an impressive period style colonial shop on his property, lanterns and all! He mentioned that a friend from Louisiana would be stopping by for the night. That was the first time I watched steel forged at the anvil. I was entranced and in awe as Chris Marks heated steel in a coal fire and hammered out shapes throughout the night.
Chris operates Marks Forge in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. He specializes in pattern welded steel and was one of the first blacksmiths to receive Mastersmith status form the American Bladesmith Society. His interest in bladesmithing began as a boy. He recounted a story to me of the sharpening shop he walked by on the way home from school and which became one of his first jobs. Every day after school Chris would sharpen knives, what a dream job for a young boy. Chris has a deep history of blacksmithing in his family. He has done extensive research digging through Louisiana public records revealing some interesting family history. For example, his great great grandmother owned a smithy and was the primary nailmaker for the city of New Orleans.
I made a trip to visit Chris in 1998 and learned many of the basic principals of forging. We stay in touch by phone these days and I consult his expansive forging knowledge almost weekly. The hammer I designed for Chris represents his Creole cultural heritage and knifemaking background.
|The "Arnon" Hammer
Arnon Kartmazov was born in Siberia. He spent many years as an apprentice in both Israel and Japan. He's worldly, sophisticated, and broad-minded. I met Arnon at a conference in Washington. I remember his linguistic precision and cultured perspective. I even received a 15 minute tutorial from him showing how to use Japanese water stones.
The "Arnon" is a front weighted, bladesmith style hammer. The facets leading to the face are deep, creating a hex shape. The opposite end pronounces a very usable straight pein. Fitted with a 13" handle, ink stained red.
I've heard people say time and time again, "Mark is a great teacher."I consistently respond, "He's not a teacher, he's THE TEACHER."
It's undeniable, Mark is a bona fide blacksmith. He's published 3 books, has a powerful Youtube channel, taught hundreds of classes & workshops, demonstrated...everywhere, current editor of the Hammer's Blow, certified as a farrier, and an associate of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths.
I vividly remember a few times I was schooled by Mark. The first instance was a visit Mark made to my workshop. I had recently purchased a 250 lb Little Giant and deemed it fairly useless. Enters Mark. A fire was burning at the forge and Mark politely asked to use the 250 LG. He then proceeded to heat a bar of steel, step towards the hammer, and draw a flawless taper with the flat dies. At that moment I silently realized I had no idea how to operate the hammer.
The second time Mark and I were both asked to demonstrate for the Saltfork Blacksmith Conference in Perry, Oklahoma. The demo area was a livestock ring. The organizers partitioned the ring into two separate areas. Mark and I began our demonstrations simultaneously. The number of spectators on each side was about equal as we started. After a few hours I noticed my audience had dwindled. Almost everyone had migrated to Mark's demo.
Inception of the Aspery Modified
Many years ago I designed and produced a hammer titled "The Bailey Cross Pein". Mark purchased one of these. After about a year, Mark phoned and wanted to tweak the design of the hammer with a few modifications. The changes included a front to back taper( wider at the back), flatter pein, more weight at the nose, a longer & thinner handle, and a slight reduction in overall weight.
I forged the hammer incorporating the new elements, and the Aspery Modified emerged. This is the hammer Mark currently uses.
Brent Bailey Forge ®
3626 County Road P
Orland, California, 95963