The Smith - Matthew Hopkins Berry
I’ve been smithing since 1990. I started out with a hammer, and anvil, a coal forge, and a book. These days I have a lot more tools. Since then I’ve taken numerous classes in bladesmithing, jewelry techniques, and foundry work. I spend a large amount of time working with other smiths, exchanging techniques and ideas. You’re never done learning to be a bladesmith.
I do all the work on my pieces, excepting collaborations with other makers. I start with steel bars, blocks of wood, ingots of bronze, sides of leather, and other ‘raw’ materials. My goal is to make pieces that excel both in function and appearance, which often go hand in hand. I build each piece to last for generations.
Bladesmithing is an ancient craft. Some tools and techniques have not changed in 1000 years. Many of my tools are antiques. As much as I admire the legacy of the craft, I use modern technology where it produces a better result than traditional processes. My largest deviations from traditional bladesmithing are the use of modern steel directly from the mill, and heat treating with kilns and salt baths for precise temperature control.
I specialize in historical pieces from pre-christian northern Europe, but I have made pieces from the bronze age up to modern knives. I tend to focus on pieces from the 1st millenium AD because I find the aesthetics of the various styles intriguing. There is something very organic and complex about Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Viking art that I love. Unfortunately much of this was lost with the conversion to christianity, as the complex decoration was declared 'heathen' and more spare and simple styles took over.
I also do some work in what I’d call historically-based fantasy pieces. These are pieces that aesthetically are close to historical examples, retain all the practicalities & performance of historical pieces, but also pull from modern fantasy art & literature.
I’m currently an apprentice bladesmith in the American Bladesmith Society. Someday I’ll get around to testing for Journeyman. I’ve been on Forged in Fire twice. The first time (season 5 episode 14) I lost in the final round. The second time (season 6 episodes 1 & 2) I won.