The forge gives off a warm glow as sparks fly into the air. The hammer is coming down on a new sharp blade at the hands of this Harrogate bladesmith.
It is an art that may have all but died out in Britain but a handful of bladesmiths are trying to keep this special flame alive.
Dominic Banks, the founder of Forge Art Online, started his craft about three years ago, inspired by the blades in films like Lord of the Rings.
While there is not much of a market for swords, many professional and home chefs want to use homemade and unique knives.
Prices range from £150 to £200 for Dominic’s blades. He keeps a high standard for himself, which means that not every knife makes it out of the workshop.
A perfect storm of increased interest in British manufacturing along with the power of social media has fuelled Dominic’s passion.
He started taking commissions three years ago but the business has really started to boom over the last year.
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On a brisk autumn morning with a new blade freshly forged, bladesmith Dominic told the Stray Ferret:
“You do have to get over that barrier where you avoid using the knife because you have spent so much money on it. But the thing is: If the knife is made right and the heat treatment is really good then it should be really sharp and strong. When you use one of these knives you realise how bad most knives are.”
Dominic makes his knives out of carbon steel. They are more durable and can be sharper than stainless steel but can rust without proper care.
They are not to be left in water or put through a dishwasher for that reason, but that tendency to stain also means it can tell stories.
“Carbon steel has a lot of character. Say if you use a lot of onion in your cooking it stains the knife brown, whereas if you cut really acidic food like fruit the knife can come out in greens, purples and blues. Those colours all mix together and people really like that.”
What is the future for Forge Art Online? It may not be a full-time job just yet but Dominic hopes that it could be soon.
He is planning to hold workshops when the coronavirus pandemic is in the rear view mirror so he can teach people how to make their own knives. But his true dream is to make swords and other weaponry to be used in films and TV shows.
This is part of the Stray Ferret’s ‘hidden gem’ series. We are trying to highlight small independent businesses. They need to be tucked away but growing in popularity with an eye-catching and unique product or approach. Send us an email with your nominations.