SPARKS FLY: Eoin McSwan at his blacksmith workshop in South Grafton.
SPARKS FLY: Eoin McSwan at his blacksmith workshop in South Grafton.

Forging ahead with the man of steel

THEY may usually go about their work hammer and tongs, but the 30 blacksmiths that gathered at the Grafton Showground were more interested in the hammers and handles.

The handles were the theme for the annual weekend of forging that has been hosted in Grafton for the past four years.

Organiser Eoin McSwan said the blacksmiths who came from all over the country, were set a series of challenges, including making a door handle from a small piece of steel.

"When it gets going, and there's people going everywhere it's quite a sight," he said.

"But the weekend was a get together for us all."

On the forges, the blacksmiths competed on making rings, drawing out steel in a time limit, and the event theme of making a handle.

Don Shannon of Ulmarra took out the strongest ring, Graeme Kratz of Tucabia won the drawing out, and the handle challenge was won by Colin Drey of Bellingen.

A second generation blacksmith, Mr McSwan started his apprenticeship when he was 15, but has now moved his craft towards a more artistic outcome.

"A lot of the work now is artistic, and I've got a couple of projects with metal poppies for Anzac Day on the go," he said.

"It's certainly a bit of a dark art, but it was good to see some young people coming through on the weekend."

The next event for the blacksmiths will come at their display at the Grafton Show where they make items in front of the crowds.

The items produced are then raffled and proceeds donated to the show society.



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