2014 was a very successful year for Mark Gilsdorf, Artist-Blacksmith, LLC. This was my first full year working full-time as a blacksmith, after seven years puttering around as a hobby. As my friend Lisa likes to say, I’m “free range” now. I was able to develop a number of small forged objects for sale, some of which proved to be very popular. One-hundred and ninety-one bottle openers found their way into people’s homes this past year, one-hundred and twenty-seven of them with smiling skulls on top.
A big step forward for me was beginning to set up booths at local craft fairs and art shows. While some smiths turn up their noses at these types of events, I found that as an artist-blacksmith just starting out, they helped my sales and also helped me get my name out into the public and develop a number of clients who wanted custom work. (I just ask the many of you still waiting on custom pieces to be patient, I haven’t forgotten about you and am slowly working my way through the backlog of orders).
I also had the opportunity to visit with a number of blacksmiths in the Southwest and see an exhibit of the amazing work of Artist-Blacksmith C. Carl Jennings. A highlight of the year was also being able to participate in a class taught by master smith Clay Spencer at the John C. Campbell Folk School and share time with five other incredibly talented blacksmiths from around the country. I highly recommend a class at John C. Campbell if you get the chance.
As we enter 2015, there are big changes in store for my blacksmithing business. I have moved out of my former studio in Northside at 1700 Blue Rock Street. My new shop is located in the Essex Art Studios building in Walnut Hills. I plan to have my workshop back up and running at full speed by early February. Stop by and say “Hi.” My studio is #280, and is on the second floor. The Essex Studios are located at 2511 Essex Place (at the corner of E. McMillan). While I am sad to leave my friends in Northside, I think this will lay the groundwork for steady but real growth for my artwork and business.
This year I’d like to get back to doing more sculptural pieces, in addition to functional work. There may even be a power hammer in my future. I plan to continue developing my skills and range of products available, guided by my company watchwords: “Firmitas ~ Utilitas ~ Venustas” or “Solid ~ Useful ~ Beautiful.” I thank you all for your support over the past year and look forward to a new year of opportunities and challenges.
Don't forget to stop by my booth at the O.F.F. Market at Mad Tree Brewery next Saturday, Feb. 7th, from noon till 6 pm. The event will feature great craft beer from Mad Tree, pizza from Fireside Pizza and hundreds of amazing artists.