He’s been imposing his artistic will upon metal for more than three decades, yet Craig Drew’s fiery passion for blacksmithing burns just as hot as the first time he picked up a hammer. The Leader caught up with him at the end of 2017, just after he returned from the Blacksmiths World Championship in Italy.
TAMWORTH metal worker Craig Drew has hammered his place in history, taking out the silver medal at the Blacksmiths World Championship, which was held in Italy’s Tuscany region.
Mr Drew and his four other Australian teammates were given the theme “dreams”, a material list and three hours. They created artwork based of the Aboriginal Dreamtime, transforming the featureless metal into a landscape of mountains and rivers, with the Rainbow Serpent gliding above it all.
It took the Aussies a few moments to realise they had taken out the silver medal – in an earlier speech the words “Australia” and “Austria” had been lost in translation.
“There were a lot of Austrians there, they probably dominate the people who were there,” Mr Drew said.
“We thought they called up Austria and my wife goes, no, that’s you guys. We needed a bit of a smack across the face to realise it was us, but we were pumped.”
For most of the team, the trip was about the experience rather than the competition, so to come away with the silverware was an unexpected bonus.
“We’re getting to a stage in life where we just want to tick things off, and that’s pretty well what it was,” Mr Drew said.
“The whole town turns out, it’s like blocking off Peel Street, everyone dresses up in their Sunday best. It’s amazing how they support it.”
When The Leader asked what Mr Drew could make from the lump of steel he was working on, he replied “open up Google”.
“Once you get the imagination going in conjunction with the hands, you can make anything,” he said.
“You’ve got other mediums where you can get in and touch it, but with metal work, you’re automatically isolated because it’s so hot you can’t touch it,” he said.
“The hammer and the anvil are your fingers. It takes that extra little bit of thought – okay, I know the shape I want this to be, how am I going to do it?”
More than three decades of beating metal with a hammer takes it’s toll physically.
“I’d love to go back to it full time, but the body says no – I must have a use by date on tattooed on the back of my head,” he laughed.
“I've been in the industry for 20 years, teaching for 15 years, but I can never let go of this.”