The Blacksmith's Project Book: Intermediate and Advanced Projects from European Masters
"The Blacksmith's Project Book" presents 20 original intermediate and advanced projects for blacksmiths looking to further hone their skills and learn techniques from European master smiths. This hardcover 248 page book, with over 900 high-quality photos, clearly explains the necessary steps and techniques for completing projects which include metallic fusion, damascening, chromatic finishing techniques, foldforming, patination, sculpture forging, and other interesting topics.
Antonello Rizzo's first bestselling project book, "Secrets of the Forge", contained almost 50 original projects by Italian master smiths for beginning and intermediate level blacksmiths. This excellent new book brings the level up a notch and has the intention of also serving as creative fodder for the smiths' own project designs.
The bonus 21st chapter of this book is a fascinating essay presenting the essayist’s heartfelt thoughts on the restoration of old wrought iron.
You can be sure that there is plenty of material in The Blacksmith's Project Book that will be of great interest to any practicing blacksmith.
What they're saying about this book:
“This is an exceptional book with many projects that I plan to attempt myself.” – Barry Myers, On the Anvil Newsletter (The Phillip Simmons Artist Blacksmith Guild).
"… an extensive collection of projects to inspire and challenge those who've made the art of blacksmithing part of their life. If you're a committed and enthusiastic smith with experience, or if you have a deep appreciation of the work smiths create, this book would be of interest to you." - Chris Holt, The Hammer's Blow, Spring 2021
"The Blacksmith’s Project Book sparks the imagination, informs and inspires. Written as a resource book for blacksmiths, there is much to be gleaned by makers and artists in any medium, and anyone who is an art or craft aficionado. Flip through the pages or read front to back, each time you open this book you will find something new. You will meet master blacksmiths from around the world, delve into their individual process and style, and learn new blacksmithing techniques. It may unlock secrets to a process that has been puzzling you, or knock loose a block in your design flow.” - Amy Mook, Hot Iron News, (Northwest Blacksmith Association)
“The … publisher’s description of the book is accurate! The techniques, tools, and desired effects of each step of the creative processes are clearly portrayed in color photographs and written descriptions. While the projects are “intermediate and advanced”, the instructional steps along with inclusion of details such as starting materials amounts to a recipe for how to accomplish these projects. I believe even a novice smith, like myself, could do them with patience and determination. The definitely artistic nature of some of the projects is inspiring. The pieces presented in this book have motivated me to continue to attempt to expand my skills and their use in the creation of art in metal.” - J. Jarrett, The Appalachian Area Chapter of Blacksmiths Newsletter
“I intend to put my review copy of this book in the Indiana Blacksmithing Association library and purchase a copy for myself because there are many fascinating projects in this book that I would like to try. The wide variety of subjects means there is something of interest for everyone.” - Bill Kendrick, The Forge Fire.
“I found The Blacksmiths Project Book to be very useful. The layout and design of the book was thorough and easy to follow and filled with great variety of tips and ideas. I would recommend this book to any of my fellow Blacksmith colleagues as a great teaching as well as learning tool.” - David S. Short, Forge Master for Tidewater Blacksmith Guild
“Fills a void in blacksmithing texts available today ... a serious treatment of a large collection of different skills ... priced slightly below what comparable advanced text books are selling for. With the wealth of information contained it is truly a bargain.” – Bob Menard, The New England Blacksmiths Newsletter.
“I’m well pleased with my purchase. The text is clear, and the pictures are excellent. This is a worthwhile book to add to your personal library.” – Rob Fertner, Editor, Newsletter of the Central States Metal Artisans.
"I found this book to be very well done and excitingly refreshing. It is full of ideas that I want to try, some of which I have not seen before. If you are interested in blacksmithing and metal work on just about any level, I highly recommend that you get a copy.” – The Editor, The Saltfork Craftsmen Artist-Blacksmith Association Newsletter
“The Blacksmith's Project Book is an exceptional publication.” - Northern Rockies Blacksmiths Association Newsletter.
“I really enjoyed reading this and read it from cover to cover, however it is just as easily used as a reference guide to make any of the included projects. It has a total of 20 projects that range through several styles of smithing as well as finishes to make your work have that hint of color you may be looking for. Each project comes from a different smith, all of which produced amazing work. While many of the projects are what I would call Sculpture or Art Projects, there are plenty of great useable projects and tools as well. For me no blacksmithing project book would be complete without at least one blade and The Blacksmith’s Project Book did not let me down. There is a nice section on making a Bill Hook By an italian smith named Roberto Magni. He shows how to forge and heat treat the blade, make the handle and attach the handle, and sharpen the blade. Every project has many photos describing the process in a nice step by step progression. I recommend this book. It is a good addition to your library and a great source of some new ideas and inspiration.” - Jon McCarty, BAM (the Newsletter of the Blacksmith Association of Missouri)
"... there is a lot to learn by studying the various projects." - Albin Drzewianowski, Hammer Notes (The Newsletter of the Mid-Atlantic Smith’s Association)
"I decided to physically get (The Blacksmith’s Project Book) into folks' hands for a community review of the book which worked very well. I sent the book to Clay Spencer for his input, he took it to an Athens Forge meeting and it was well received by those who looked through it. In fact, a few told me they’d bought the book. I showed the book to others at a few conferences and meetings that I’ve attended this year and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Many very accomplished smiths have been quite impressed with the quality of the photography, instructions and descriptions of the projects discussed. Many have bought the book so they could follow it and make the projects themselves. Some bought it to use at their home forge groups so their members can attempt the projects at meetings. The artisans featured are referred to as “European Masters” and the level of execution is in line with that denotation. Instructions for the projects are clear and concise, easy to follow. The projects do require at least an intermediate level of smithing skills and some are quite challenging. Below is the table of contents. As you can see, there are a wide range of projects covered including sculptural pieces, repoussè, restoration, patinas and finishes. Techniques covered in this book go far beyond just simple “learn these forging skills and make something pretty”. The projects teach you to think structurally and plan ahead for the fit-up process. Balance, connection, texture, proportion, shaping and finishing are just a few of the many facets of smithing covered. Stakes, sinks, shaped hammer faces, chisels, grinders, power hammer and hand hammers are just some of the tools used in these projects." - Alison Bohorfoush, Bituminous Bits, Journal of the Alabama Forge Council
“This book would be helpful for any blacksmith trying to broaden their ideas and technique." - Monica Coyne, Artist Blacksmith
“… I really like this book and feel that it’s a bargain at just under $50. (It) is printed on quality paper and the photos are crisp, clear, plentiful, and do a very good job of portraying the work being done. The projects are beyond the scope of beginner work and comprise a variety of subjects from sculpture to hardware to tools and jewelry. The steps for each project are well written and provide sufficient information to duplicate these wonderful pieces.” - Paul Novorolsky, Editor, The UMBA Journal (Upper Midwest Blacksmith Association)
“… a few of the projects shown will be made in my shop in the near future. I think that any (black)smith would find helpful information, either as a guide to the items made, or in the techniques used to make them.” - Ira Wiesenfeld, The Anvil’s Horn, a publication of the Arizona Artist Blacksmith Association
"Mr. Rizzo has assembled a very nice overview of 20 projects as done by skilled artists. These are not your run-of-the-mill blacksmithing projects, but are nearly all sculptural in nature. You get a chance to see how a professional gets to the end result they want, which is a real treat, and with 900 color photographs it has a lot to offer. Many of the smiths in the book may be familiar-the most notable being Zeevik Gottlieb,who shows you his main steps in creating a steel figure. The photos are close, clear and very informative, giving you a good look at a real master at work. Another particularly interesting project is the eye-opening design and construction of a Venetian door knocker. Seeing the layout will spur you to consider the proportions you use in your own work so you can reap the results as well. All in all, I think this is a worthy follow up to Mr. Rizzo’s previous book (Secrets of the Forge) and is definitely worth your time, especially if you are looking to expand your own work artistically and differentiate your projects from others." - I Forge Iron, Book Reviews (teenylittlemetalguy, Anchorage, Alaska)
“I feel privileged to (have reviewed) The Blacksmith’s Project Book by Antonello Rizzo. Each of his chapters features the work of a master smith from Europe. Mr. Rizzo briefly identifies the tools and techniques employed in all of the projects. His color plates clearly illustrate the steps taken and the finished product. He primarily relies on photographs to show the actions of the smiths. Many of the projects in this book can be completed with reduced material size on a small scale. I enjoyed reading the book and visualizing how I can forge some of these projects in my own shop. I recommend The Blacksmith’s Project Book to intermediate and advanced smiths who don’t need detailed written instructions. Mr. Rizzo provides excellent color photos and brief written descriptions for all of the projects he covers. I believe that I can forge most of these projects from the descriptions provided, but maybe on a smaller scale, and I am looking forward to that.” - John Dale, California Blacksmith (the Newsletter of the California Blacksmith Association)
“…. an excellent book. A variety of projects which provide a good learning curve for blacksmiths pushing toward a higher level in their craftsmanship.” – Mike Otis, Forge Facts (The Rocky Mountain Smiths)
“If you are a blacksmith who wants to delve more into the sculptural aspects of metalworking, I think you’ll enjoy this book. The book contains over 900 color photographs that not only help you walk through the progression, but also see the tools and tooling used. I particularly enjoyed the Venetian Doorknocker chapter by Alessandro Ervas and can see myself applying some of the layout and interlocking component techniques in future projects.” - Steven Spoerre, The Upsetter (Newsletter of the Michigan Artist Blacksmith Association)
“Rizzo provides more than 900 high-quality photos and clearly explains the necessary steps and techniques for completing projects such as metallic fusion, damascening, chromatic finishing techniques, patination, sculpture forging and other interesting topics.” – The Badger Blacksmiths (the Wisconsin ABANA Chapter Newsletter)
“… a few of the projects shown - will be made in my shop in the near future.” - Ira Wiesenfeld, DVM, The Anvil’s Horn, a Publication of the Arizona Artist Blacksmith Association
"The Blacksmith’s Project Book: Intermediate & Advanced Projects from European Masters is an exceptional book published by Artisan Ideas. A copy of this book is available in our library. Once you see it, you will probably want a copy for your own. This book is not for complete novices, but if you have been forging for a couple years you will find many interesting projects that you will want to attempt, among which, an angle iron face project, a sculpted hand, a damascened fish, a shutter stop, patination techniques and many more. Everyone will have their personal favorites. The book’s 20 projects cover a good number of methods and techniques of topical interest. All projects are accompanied by high quality color photos illustrating the various steps plus well-written technical instructions. There is a lot of excellent material here which will give you ideas for your own original projects – which is the aim of both the author and the many blacksmiths who contributed to this book. The book is hardcover, has 248 pages, and hundreds of great photos." – J. Philips, Hot Iron Sparkle, Newsletter of the North Carolina Artist Blacksmith’s Association of North America
The last chapter of this book is not a project, but a rather passionate essay on the restoration of old wrought iron. Here's a comment on this chapter taken from an ABANA chapter newsletter:
“I found this chapter particularly interesting as it points out how the restoration of ironwork is often handled differently from the restoration of other types of art, especially in the choice of materials used to perform the restoration. Then he goes on to explain how many common restoration practices actually do more damage that good. Ervas emphasizes the need to understand the difference between modern materials and what he characterizes as “pre-industrial iron”. Ervas repeatedly talks about the need to use processes and materials that are “… carried out with the maximum respect for the original piece.” The artisan performing the restoration must balance both the aesthetics and “the restoration ethics” with regard to the piece of iron work.” – Clinker Breaker (Florida Artist Blacksmith Association)
Click here to see Black Bear Forge's YouTube review with John Switzer
Two Complete Book Reviews:
1) From "The Saltfork Craftsmen Artist-Blacksmith Association Newsletter"
“I was asked by the publisher to review The Blacksmith’s Project Book. I have to admit I was excited by the title words “intermediate & advanced” since it seems there is a void in blacksmith related project books if you want to go beyond the basics. This book did not disappoint.
What this book is not: You will not find the overly repeated descriptions of blacksmith tools like parts of the anvil, hammer types, how to hold a hammer, etc. You won’t find out how to make S-hooks or draw tapers. And there is no lengthy discussion about how to heat treat chisels. If you are a complete beginner, some parts of the projects in this book may be a challenge. But I believe even beginners will get a lot from this book in seeing progressive steps on complex projects, seeing unique ways to set up and move metal, and seeing how certain tools are applied.
What this book is: You will find twenty projects from various, mostly European, smiths presented with 900 quality color photographs showing key steps for each project with brief explanatory text. Many of the projects are contemporary art sculptures. Some have that certain contemporary “look” (think Zeevik Gottlieb from Israel who demonstrates the first project - a joined figure sculpture.) There is an interesting Venetian door knocker, a somewhat utilitarian billhook project and window shutter stop as well. Each project is documented with photos of key steps including which tools are used and how they are used. The brief text explains the processes very well without getting overly bogged down in explaining the basics. The feel is almost like traveling in person to watch demonstrations in the various smiths’ shops. Stock sizes are given for each project (in imperial units.)
Techniques: The techniques you will learn from the projects in this book are largely scalable (some projects documented in the book use fairly large stock and are best done with a power hammer and/or striker but they can be scaled down) and the techniques can be transferred in numerous ways to other projects. Some of the techniques for moving metal are probably a little different than you may have tried before. There are also projects specifically demonstrating a new application of damascening, metallic fusion, a Swiss Patina technique, polishing forged work, Mokume Gane, and Chromatic Finishing. The last chapter covers some general basics of restoring antique wrought ironwork.
Recommendation: I found this book to be very well done and excitingly refreshing. It is full of ideas that I want to try, some of which I have not seen before. If you are interested in blacksmithing and metal work on just about any level, I highly recommend that you get a copy.” – The Editor, The Saltfork Craftsmen Artist-Blacksmith Association Newsletter
2) From "Hot Iron News (the Northwest Blacksmith Association Newsletter)"
"The Blacksmith’s Project Book sparks the imagination, informs and inspires. Written as a resource book for blacksmiths, there is much to be gleaned by makers and artists in any medium, and anyone who is an art or craft aficionado. Flip through the pages or read front to back, each time you open this book you will find something new. You will meet master blacksmiths from around the world, delve into their individual process and style, and learn new blacksmithing techniques. It may unlock secrets to a process that has been puzzling you, or knock loose a block in your design flow. Antonello Rizzo has chosen each chapter wisely, representing a great variety of design style, smithing techniques and skill level. The 21 chapters include 11 dedicated to sculptural projects of varied complexity, 3 more on hardware, jewelry and blade projects, and 6 illustrating the techniques of damascening, metallic fusion, Swiss patina technique, mokume, chromatic finishing and restoration. The projects are intended for blacksmiths of intermediate and advanced skill levels, though an ambitious beginner could find a project to challenge and reward them. Even the most advanced smith will find something new in this wide ranging collection of design and blacksmithing technique. The book layout is superb for readability and clarity. Each project begins with a concise introduction to the project and artist, followed by a photo essay with instructive text and captions. The direction given in the text and photos leaves room for your own personal style, and also requires some background blacksmithing knowledge as not every step is explained in detail, a relief from the redundant text of so many blacksmith how-to books which repeatedly describe even the most basic of details. The over 900 high quality photos are laid out in coherent sequence. The images tell of much more than a step in the process, we also get to see a large array of shops, tools and forges. Throughout the pages of this book there is the undercurrent of vitality, talent and creativity alive in the international blacksmith community. A search on each of the artist’s names led to amazing galleries of contemporary iron works, an explosion of artistic expression and amazing accomplishments in blacksmithing, the king of crafts. Be warned, you may be forced to plan a trip to Europe and beyond to satisfy your curiosity, which is sure to be piqued. If you are looking for a book with beginner to intermediate blacksmithing techniques try "Secrets of the Forge", also by Antonello Rizzo. The Blacksmith’s Project Book is a continuation in the same vein, for a higher skill level blacksmith. Each book is a standalone standout, and they make great companions for your library. I put The Blacksmith’s Project Book on my highly recommended list, it is a great addition to any library. Consider getting an additional copy for shop use, and get busy with some of these projects!" - Amy Mook, Hot Iron News, (Northwest Blacksmith Association)