"Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." - Benjamin Franklin
Early this spring, I received a rare opportunity to meet a true master of our craft, of which, would dramatically transform all my forging endeavors. After meeting Jerry Darnell of Mill Creek Forge, I quickly became mesmerized by the traditional approach of colonial ironwork and was quickly left wanting more. For those not familiar with Mr. Darnell, he has been a blacksmith for 48 years and has earned an extensive long list of accolades. Apart from teaching at the John C. Campbell Folk School, The Ozark School of Blacksmithing, and the Touchstone School of Crafts, Jerry has provided a long list of demonstrations at numerous conferences throughout the country. Jerry is an esteemed Master Blacksmith, Author, and provider of Historical/Museum ironwork and I’m beyond fortunate for his mentorship. You can access his website at www.millcreekforge.com
From the moment we met, Jerry extended a warm welcome into his forge and the opportunity to learn under a master’s supervision and within five minutes, even the most familiar tasks I’d previously performed had now carried a new meaning. I was instantly put to the test after showing some of my iron work wrought with my propane forge, in which Jerry asked me to replicate an eyelet after his demonstration. After comparing the two items, Jerry was able to deconstruct the process and illustrate the difference in what makes just a regular ol’ eyelet truly superior. Within this short introduction, including his demonstration of making a spoon within 2 heats, I was ready to abandon all previous instruction and immerse myself in his traditional approach.
Within just a few trips, I find myself appreciating even the smallest of tasks. Nails, chainlink, fire pokers, and general forge welding instruction have provided more insight that would’ve taken easily years to acquire had I attempted on my own. With each free moment I get from my busy schedule, Jerry always provides a warm welcome into his shop for another lesson and I’m sure I keep him more than entertained with outlandish internet blacksmithing “wisdom” that he clarifies for me, lol. Here is just a glimpse of the world you step into when you pay him a visit.