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The Maine Blacksmith's Guild has a unique creation story. Our traditions and techniques are an amalgamation of different styles from different parts of the state and indeed the world, including different time periods.
Our core structure is borrowed from the Howell Works Blacksmith's Guild which was apart of an industrial town and ironworks in the early 19th century. The ironworks housed the largest blacksmith shop in the United States at that time, to maintain the wagon fleet to bring the goods to market. Today the Guild is a group of Blacksmith shops with common purpose in philosophies and mission to protect our craft the way it was defined, not how the modern day wants to define it.
After World War II, in the 1950's, Blacksmithing in the traditional sense was all but dead in the United States. Between Industrialization and the World Wars, many of the village blacksmiths hung up their aprons to go to war or to work in factories. As time marched forward technology bridged the demand and thus substituted and replaced the work of the Blacksmith. When the Wars were over and people returned home, the blacksmiths were no longer required to support the economy; therefore, the need to teach people the old ways of ironworking was no longer required. In 1950's there were only two organizations in the United States that existed before the World Wars, one was the Northern California Blacksmithing Guild, which no longer exists today, and the Howell Works Blacksmiths Guild, which we rebranded into the Maine Blacksmith's Guild as we collected more historical blacksmith shops throughout the state. Over the course of the last three decades, we expanded the fledgling Guild from one shop in Northern Maine on the Penobscot river to four working Blacksmith shops, spread across the State, including additional workshops in Europe & South America.
Not only do we provide learning spaces and learning opportunities in Maine, but every year we sponsor apprentices to go to Europe on expedition. The purpose of this expedition is to catalog and recreate all the lost ironwork that has failed to be passed on. We take that knowledge and bring it to back to Maine so we can share it with others. Over the years of foreign expeditions, we have established working relationships with Blacksmiths in Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, and Brazil. In this pursuit we are able to bridge the gap between continents and learn the important work that never made it across the Atlantic.
Today the Guild operates as a private non-profit organization and continues to educate, preserve, and bring up the next generation of Blacksmiths in Maine and abroad.
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