While many people in the summertime are talking about the Mother of Dragons – Daenerys Targaryen from HBO’s Game of Thrones, a blacksmith in Lacombe could be called the forger of dragons.
Brian Herrick, a blacksmith and welder, along with his colleague Kane Smith recently completed a 6 ft. tall dragon sculpture that was to a large extent hand-forged.
“It was a commissioned piece. A fellow wanted us to build it to hold his gate sign,” he said.
“I and another fella started out with a silhouette and went from there. We didn’t have to much guidance from the client about what he wanted, but he said he didn’t mind surprises. As we got more into it, it ended up being quite big.”
The dragon took a considerable amount of time, with many of the finer details taking up much of the time.
“Putting scales on took most of the time,” he said.
“The whole thing has scales on it and that was about 280 hours doing that. Shaping the legs took a long time as well and it took about six days to make the arms and the head. Those were six to eight hour days.”
Blacksmithing, an ancient art, is still alive and well in Canada.
Herrick started his journey in welding before finding the more artistic blacksmithing.
“When I first started out — I was in the oilfield working, but in the last 10 to 12 years I got interested in blacksmithing,” he said.
“The head, arms, feet and tail are all hand-forged. That is the old fashioned method of heating up the metal and then pounding and shaping it to what you want it to look like. For the head and arms, I worked along with a professional blacksmith that I know who works out on Vancouver Island.”
Herrick originally found time to blacksmith during his time in agriculture, the seasonal nature of which gave him time to work in a shop throughout the winters.
“Since the ag business is seasonal, we would have a workshop in the winter where we would do all sorts of industrial stuff,” he said.
“We always liked to work on things a bit different. I’m retired from the agricultural business, but I got into blacksmithing and I started my own little business.
“I do furniture, railings, gates and that sort of thing. They are generally more artistic-type projects. I moved from the welding over to the hand-forged and blacksmith stuff.”
Herrick’s interest in blacksmithing was spurred by a course he took in Edmonton.
“I took a course from a fella in Edmonton,” he said.
“It was a weekend course he put on in his shop and we made some hand tools, so like tongs and punches.
“We did heat treating, but also shaping and bending. That is what blacksmiths do: they make their own tools. You can either use a propane furnace or a coal-fired forge, which is like the one at the blacksmith shop in Lacombe.”
He added about the dragon, “I have never done anything like that and I thought it would be a challenge. We didn’t really have an idea what we were going to do when we started.”