Sector Spotlight: István Medgyesi, Blacksmith and CLOCK Sector Expert

In sector spotlight CLOCK members speak with us about their latest projects and share insights from their sector.

This issue, we speak with István Medgyesi, recently qualified CLOCK Sector Expert and owner of Vasveréb Kft (Ironsparrow Ltd.), a blacksmith company in Hungary. István is the first blacksmith to join the CLOCK community. Here he tells us about 21st-century life as a blacksmith, why he immediately connected with CLOCK and reveals some little-known secrets from his workshop.

István, some sources suggest that blacksmithing dates back to the Iron Age. Could you talk about that and your life as a modern-day blacksmith in Hungary?

Yes. Firstly, it’s worth saying, the job of the blacksmith and wrought iron artist is different. When we think of the blacksmith in the Iron Age, they had functional forging and the blacksmith who created weapons and agricultural tools. The wrought iron culture came later. The first signs of this culture were in Thessalonica, Greece (today’s Thessaloniki), where they discovered many small pieces of iron art at the palace of Philip of Macedon, the Father of Alexander the Great. All the fittings and elements, so the gates, balconies, doors, and fan-windows that we still create, grilles we call them, these become fashionable later, between the 11th and 12th centuries A.D.

As for life as a blacksmith now, as someone sensitive to social and political problems, well, it can be complicated. But let’s concentrate on the blacksmith’s job. I think we must simultaneously move forward with the times and preserve traditions. Alongside the creative side of my work, there are also commercial aspects. I have to negotiate with my clients to ensure they are satisfied and get what they want. I have to collaborate with my clients, drafting drawings and plans to bring their vision to life. And then comes the most important, blacksmithing to create the pieces in my workshop. And there is the logistics side too. Once plans are agreed, I ship in materials from the supplier. When I’ve finished production in my workshop, the objects get shipped out to the client. The life of the modern-day blacksmith seems more complex than the life of the ancient blacksmiths. But this is why I love it.

What are you working on right now?

I’m creating all the grilles for a large Mediterranean style rural cottage: a fence to the front of the street, door grill, large gates, terrace railings, hand railings for stairs, and two chandeliers. The clients are Americans, and the female client loves the heavy classic Mexican-style Mediterranean (old Spanish) scrolls and fences. These will be richly decorated and classically elegant. In this instance, to meet the client’s needs, I need knowledge of historical styles. And I love it. At work, I feel like I’m in the 18th or 19th century. I’m waiting for Zorro to appear in the workshop (laughs). 

How has your sector managed given the circumstances of the last year?

I’m lucky. The pandemic goes all around us but did not affect us. Not from a personal or business standpoint. I had a full schedule of jobs and orders and worked the same as before the pandemic. There has been no change in my work. The “home office” is my blacksmith workshop. I have orders to fulfil up to spring 2022. My sons worked in catering, so I understand that others have lost their jobs. It’s terrible.

You qualified recently as a CLOCK sector expert. Why did you choose the CLOCK programme?

I’m a member of the creative industry cluster here in Hungary. The president of this society János Keresnyei is my good friend. Two years ago, we talked about the Hungarian education and qualification system. He spoke about CLOCK, and in the meeting, he said the magic words: practice-based. I learned that with CLOCK you could obtain a qualification based on your practical skills. For me, the essence of all things is practice-based. Life is practical. What we say, that’s theory. In the end, only practice matters, what we do in reality. That’s why I chose the CLOCK programme. At the core was my favourite word, practice.

Share something about blacksmithing that people may not know!

Hm, something about blacksmithing, that people don’t know. Okay, but it’s secret. The blacksmith’s work makes the hand harder, and the movements make the body stronger and your conclusions objective. It will sensitise your soul and heart. 

Author Liz Appleby


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