Mark was born and raised in a creative household in Toronto and he’s always had a desire to draw and make things. Using tools and different materials was just a way for him to bring an idea, practical or otherwise, to reality. Mark began to experiment with blacksmithing and forging techniques by trial and error in 1993. Through the forging process metal is squeezed, textured and formed at a bright yellow heat using tools as fingers.
“There is a window of opportunity to achieve what you aim to do before the metal cools and will resist. When the metal is too cold to work it is frozen in a new form with enticing hints of how it came to be.”
As time moves along he finds himself more often paying close attention to the effect of working the metal to unconventional outcomes. These effects and textures are partly dictated by letting go of the typical forging approaches, and at the same time letting the metal lead the way to new possibilities. A raw more organic form is the result.
“Industries are perfecting the raw materials into pristine homogenous profiles and I want to bring them back closer to their imperfect origins.”
Inspiration for his work comes from all the experiences in his life, surroundings, and the people that commission him. Many times Mark likes to mix concepts together and design crazy things that don’t exactly mimic/repeat nature or reality. Forging hot metal appeals to him on many levels including, the interaction of energy and design. Mark is voluntarily caught in a vortex of exploring and challenging the typical.
Pete Braspenninx, owner of Phyre Forge, is a graduate of the University of Michigan school of art and design (2004). He is an artist, blacksmith, and educator. His work has been shown, collected, and published nationally and internationally. His work focuses primarily on building shape and line through visual connections and joinery using traditional skills to make modern forms.
He also does architectural iron work along with sculptural work Pete’s work has been published in Anvil’s Ring, and De Klinknagel (Belgium). He has demonstrated at varied blacksmithing events, and conducted workshops at major craft centers. He has exhibited widely, including a solo show at the Metal Museum in 2018
For CanIRON XIII Pete will be demonstrating using traditional joinery techniques to create modern sculpture.
Dates: August 3-6, 2023 Location: Centre Wellington Community Sportsplex Host City: Fergus, Ontario Theme: “Sparking Your Creativity”
CanIRON XIII will run from Thursday August 3 to Sunday August 6, 2023 at Centre Wellington Community Sportplex located at 550 Belsyde Ave E in Fergus, Ontario. The Ontario Artist Blacksmith Association will host the event.
Dates: June 4, 4:00PM to June 6, 2:00PM PDT, 2021 Location: Online Host: Manitoba Blacksmith Guild
This year’s CanIRON is going to be different from past years’ events. Instead of driving out to the middle of nowhere Saskatchewan (sorry guys!) for the weekend’s festivities, you can enjoy CanIRON from the comfort of your own home or workshop. CanIRON VE will run from Friday June 4 to Sunday June 6, 2021 online via Hopin with smiths from across Canada, USA and International. The Manitoba Blacksmith Guild will host the event.
I’ve always been an outdoor enthusiast and have studied with several wilderness skills instructors. Over the years, I had either made or modified my equipment to suit a variety of conditions and environments.
My tinkering eventually led me into the world of custom leather craft. Friends and colleagues showed interest in acquiring my work and urged me to go public. As a result, my business Wildertools was born.
In 2007, I met American Bladesmith Society, Master Smith, Wally Hayes, whose friendship and generous guidance proved to be invaluable to me. Wally’s influence changed my focus to include hand-forged knives and ignited my passion for bladesmithing. My 14+ years of experience in the tool, die and fabrication industry gave me a firm foundation that benefited me during my apprenticeship. It wasn’t long before I became consumed by all aspects of the craft. From moving metal with a hammer to manipulating its internal structure with heat, this melding of science and art fueled my passion.
By 2009, my skills had developed enough for me to be referred to as the “Canadian Bush Master” in Tactical Knives Magazine, win first place in a Camp Knife Challenge on BladeForums (internationally recognized website) and later that year, receive the “Best New Maker” award at the USN Gathering (Trade Show). This was just the beginning. My work has evolved into a distinctive style, renowned for its raw beauty, high quality and strong emphasis on functionality. My pieces have appeared in numerous other publications. Most recently, I was featured in a 2019 Blade Magazine article titled “Secrets of the Pros” and ranked third place in the “2018 Best Bowie” competition held on BladeForums.
Throughout my career, I’ve cultivated and maintained a strong online presence by participating in internet forums and networking on social media. In 2016, I created @wildertools, an Instagram account that has reached over thousands of organic followers. My recognition has enabled me to work with a host of international clients, from Rock Stars with private knife collections to making movie props for Hollywood giants like 20th Century Fox and Disney.
I’m still learning every day and loving it. I’m proud of how far I’ve come and thankful for the opportunities I’ve received. Eager to share knowledge, I plan to offer more extensive bladesmithing classes. Hopefully, the next generation of potential smiths will be inspired as I continue to be.