Skilled Trades Careers

Crafting Art from Fire: Mark Teece, The British Blacksmith (SkillHero Spotlight)

DateMay 10, 2024
The British Blacksmith

While technology continues to play a larger role in our world, Mark Teece upholds the tradition of expert craftsmanship and the importance of connecting with others. A former chemistry professor turned blacksmith instructor, Mark, coined the "The British Blacksmith", has been blacksmithing for 11 years and started teaching his own classes outside of Syracuse, NY about 8 years ago.

In this skilled trade feature, SkillHero sits down with Mark to delve into the impact he aims to make through his craft and reigniting a passion for hands-on creation. Check out our Instagram post spotlighting Mark. You can also view this Q&A on our LinkedIn account. This dialogue aims to enlighten aspiring trade professionals on the opportunities and personal growth the skilled trades offer. Let’s dive in!

Q&A with Mark, The British Blacksmith

SkillHero: Can you tell us a bit about how you transitioned from being a chemistry professor to becoming a blacksmith?

Mark (The British Blacksmith): I've always been someone who thrives on practical work. When vocational classes were phased out at my school while growing up, I gravitated towards chemistry for its hands-on lab work. Throughout my academic career, I continued metalworking, which eventually brought me to blacksmithing. The allure of combining my passions of working with hot forged steel and teaching led me to begin offering classes to spread knowledge about my craft.

SkillHero: How has your background in chemistry influenced your blacksmithing technique?

Mark (The British Blacksmith): It's all about problem-solving, really. Both fields require a keen sense of how things fit together and the creativity to see a project through. That analytical edge definitely enhances the craftsmanship in blacksmithing, blending the technical with the artistic.

Mark forging metal

SkillHero: With your extensive experience in teaching, how do you approach educating your students?

Mark (The British Blacksmith): Teaching is something I deeply enjoy. My classes are project-based, which I believe is the best way to learn. It starts with demonstrating the basics, then encouraging students to take the reins. This method not only teaches them the craft but also instills confidence as they see their own projects come to life.

SkillHero: It sounds like you've built quite a community through your classes. Can you expand on that?

Mark (The British Blacksmith): Definitely. What started as a one-time class often turns into a recurring engagement. Some of my students have gone on to apprenticeships, started their own business, or started working on their own commission work. It’s rewarding to see a thriving community of craftsmen and women, all supporting and learning from one another.

Mark instructing

SkillHero: Absolutely. Your approach resonates with our mission at SkillHero to empower the next generation of skilled professionals through building upon skills and fostering community. Looking at the broader scope of blacksmithing, what are the career opportunities for someone skilled in this trade?

Mark (The British Blacksmith): While it's tough to make a living from blacksmithing alone, the skills acquired are incredibly versatile. Knowledge of metal fabrication and welding opens up many doors in areas like architectural ironwork and restoration. The demand for high-quality, handcrafted metalwork is definitely on the rise.

SkillHero: In an era where technology impacts every profession, how do you incorporate modern tools and techniques in your teaching, while keeping the traditional essence of blacksmithing alive?

Mark (The British Blacksmith): Modern tools like induction forges and TIG welders have revolutionized the craft. They increase efficiency and precision, allowing for more intricate and higher quality work. It's about embracing these technologies to enhance, not replace, the traditional skills.

Mark in workshop

SkillHero: What is your personal vision for the future of blacksmithing education, and how do you see your role evolving in this landscape?

Mark (The British Blacksmith): I see a significant resurgence in people appreciating handcrafted work. My goal is to expand the community of blacksmiths, foster collaborative learning and mutual support, and continue to push the boundaries of what we can create with metal. The future looks bright, and I'm excited to be part of it.

SkillHero: Taking a step back, what do you think we could be doing to bridge the labor gap in the skilled trades in general?

Mark (The British Blacksmith): It has to start in high school. Many schools have phased out vocational programs, which is a real loss. If kids don’t get exposed to trades early on, they might miss discovering a career they’d love. I’m working with programs to get into high schools and show students what’s possible in trades like blacksmithing and metal fabrication. We need to present these as viable career paths right when students are considering their futures. It’s about expanding their options beyond the usual push towards college.

Forging Forward: The Impact of Skilled Trades on Our World

Forging Forward: The Impact of Skilled Trades on Our World

Mark Treece's journey is a powerful reminder of the enduring value of skilled trades. His work not only preserves the heritage of blacksmithing but also paves the way for future generations to discover the satisfaction of making something with their own hands. You can follow Mark at @TheBritishBlacksmith on Instagram where he shares content from his courses and projects. Visit his website to book a class, join his newsletter, or view his custom ironwork.

At SkillHero, we are proud to spotlight individuals like Mark, who are not just masters of their craft but also dedicated mentors and community builders. Their stories underscore the importance of skilled trades in our society—a cornerstone in building a future where craftsmanship is not lost to history, but cherished and advanced.

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