Gora Forge owner Matt Peck is shown at his vendor’s booth at the Fiat Farm Spring Bazaar held on May 28. Thompson Goddard Photo

Continuing a family tradition

RUSSELL – Matt Peck, owner of Gora Forge south of Russell, is the third generation of blacksmiths in his family. What began several years ago as a part-time occupation, evolved into him working full-time as a blacksmith last year.

“I make pendants, key chains and copper roses which are purely decorative items” commented Peck.  He continued his work includes both functional and decorative pieces as well as small sculptures. “I have made most of my daily use tools such as hammers, punches, hardy tools, bending jigs, tongs, chisels, etc.,” as well as functional pieces such as hooks, hinges, bathroom hardware and curtain holders.

“About seven years ago I started with a small homemade coal forge and a piece of steel that I used as an anvil” explained Peck.

“As soon as I started, I knew I wanted to do more,” said Peck. His grandfather and father had both worked as blacksmiths and a couple years after beginning his blacksmith career he was able to purchase the family anvil from an uncle. He explained four generations of the family have forged items on the family anvil. “My grandfather and dad made tools and horseshoes. I make tools and decorative items.  My kids have also made decorative hooks and key chains,” he commented.

Last year he made the decision to leave his decade-long career in healthcare to begin working full-time as a blacksmith. “I enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to create things, I love repurposing and creating something from a raw material.” He explained how in creating a piece of work, there are steps which need to be followed,” like a puzzle he said.

“The better I get, the more I can see the steps clearly outlined.”

Another part of being a blacksmith which Peck enjoys is knowing the products he creates have a long lifespan. “I love how my forged items could be used for generations; tools I make today could be used by my grandkids one day. I have tools my grandfather made.”

There are certain challenges that are associated with being a blacksmith and working in the forge. Peck described them as being the heat, dust, and physical exhaustion, noting the temperature of the room is controlled by the forge as his workshop isn’t insulated. “You work around a lot of sharp hot surfaces” so burns and cuts are a regular part of a blacksmith’s work experience according to Peck.

He had some advice to those looking at blacksmithing as a career. “Take a class, try it out! It takes time, patience, and a huge financial investment to set up a good working shop.” He mentions it is possible to make some of your tools “but those skills need to be developed over time.” He says this career path can be started with “a small forge, anvil shaped piece of steel and a hammer” and as well, to check out the very supportive blacksmith community online.

Looking ahead to the future, Peck mentioned they are contemplating bigger sculptures, architectural blacksmithing and larger functional pieces. “I am currently refining my tooling for hammer and axe making,” he explained.

More information on Gora Forge can be found on their social media pages.


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