Sep 7, 2015
Michael Budd is an artist blacksmith with a small, independent
forge in the town of Sligo, Ireland. Originally from England,
Michael grew up watching his father, who was a welder fabricator.
Although he began professionally blacksmithing in his 30s, Michael
quickly found success with his hand-crafted work and is an
award-winning artist as well as a lecturer and mentor. He supports
his family through public sculpture, privately commissioned work
and blacksmithing courses he provides at his studio, The Forge.
Everything Michael creates is hand forged and forge welded.
What We Talked About
- Michael spent his
childhood Saturdays in his father's workshop watching him weld and
fabricate. His blacksmithing career didn't begin until he moved to
Ireland at age 30. He found a great teacher who agreed to take
Michael on as an apprentice. Eventually Michael opened his
own blacksmith shop and decided to only perform forge welds instead
of MIG welds. Although a far slower process, it's much more
satisfying work for him.
- Because of the nature of being an artist and the pace of his
work, he and his wife (a goldsmith) agreed to make sacrifices to do
the work they love. He values the freedom and contentment of his
work more than vacations and new cars.
- For extra income, Michael holds demonstrations and teaches
classes out of his 75 square foot studio, which contains two forges
and three anvils. People come in for an hour and do a small project
under his tutelage. Michael says this often drums up sales as
- Although blacksmithing is a time-honored trade, Michael uses
modern technology to bring awareness to his art and to
blacksmithing. He uses social media, including Facebook and
YouTube, to feature his work.
- Michael earns his living in three main ways: teaching, public
commissioned work and private sales. He enjoys the diversity, but
admits it's challenging to get in-depth into a personal sculpture
piece when he also needs to be available for customers and paying
- Michael feels fortunate to rent his shop in Ireland from a man
in New York who charges very little. Michael thinks this is because
he had to install the electricity himself and the building sat
empty for 15 years. Even today, it has no running water or
- As for his business model, Michael says it's not a bad idea to
sometimes work on gut feelings and just a sincere desire to do a
project. Sometimes losing money on one job leads to profit on
another. He says, “If you want to make more money, then buy
yourself a welder and go at the thing you know how to do. If you
want to be a better blacksmith or a better artist, then you have to
take risks and take losses.”
- Recently Michael collaborated with an author and a filmmaker on
a special project for a new book called "This Burning World" that
will be made into a movie. His forged piece will be part of an
auction to earn money to pay for the movie production.
- On taking risks: “Sometimes you have to learn a new technique
for a job and even though it might take twice as long, it pushes
you forward as a craftsperson, artist and designer. It's not the
most cost-effective way to work, but if you always choose most the
cost-effective way, you won't produce the most interesting