Hanoi Photo Club at a forge

There most certainly have been a lot of figures in folklore, poetry or literature made up about blacksmith. From ancient tales and mythology to modern poetry, the Blacksmith is a straightforward, honorable man with an honest profession. Most people might still thing of him dressed in a leather apron bent over the anvil with a mighty hammer in his hand. There was a craftsman nearly in every village around the world.

Those days are, of course, long gone, but this craft has never gone totally away.  It has undergone a lot of changes and lately in some countries there is a bit of a revival. While being an accomplished craftsman he now must also have the eye of an artist and a very good business sense would be advisable as well.

Sicot French Steel - Decorative ironwork - near Hanoi

Sicot French Steel - Decorative ironwork - near Hanoi

Today we had the chance to visit Sicot French Steels working place from Sebastien Sicot in Hanoi due to the relation of one of our members of the Hanoi Photo Club. Photographing Sebastien who, as an artist blacksmith running his own forge where he uses traditional and modern methods and tools, working and creating beautifully crafted pieces has been quite an event.

part of the ongoing work for a metal gate

part of the ongoing work for a metal gate

During the period of our visit to the workshop Sebastien was in the process of making a themed gate for a private commission. I was struck how in his hands chunks and lengths of steel where coaxed and fashioned with precision hammer blows into lifelike expressions of leafs, petals and alike. I have to say that I had no idea how intricate the skill is and how much is involved in producing the finished product.

The photographic challenges here of working in an environment with a lot of contrast lights had been a good opportunity to use different settings in our camera gear, use flash and different ISO settings. To make the most of the contrast between the orange lights of the flame, the grey metal and keeping the detail in the different textures and surfaces was challenging.  Shapes which where formed, the wielding of the tools and the distinctive clink of molten metal being transformed and trying to capture this alchemy of the blacksmith was fun as well.

Sebastian Sicot is a member of the well-known Compagnons du Devoir. You can find out more of this capable craftsman at: http://www.compagnons-du-devoir.com