Family of blacksmiths the focus of new TV series

Kent Knapp shares with Imagine TV Network about the understated challenges of his work and why the demand for mass-produced items has impacted craft of blacksmithing.

Words by Elaine Xu

For Kent Knapp, being the lead blacksmith at his company Milwaukee Blacksmith, which the television series is named after, means being accepting of differences. "I would say that I actually have much more respect for my children now that I work with them," he admits. Knapp's wife Shannon is the company's operations manager and their three sons and daughter take on different responsibilities in the shop.

Image credit: HISTORY

It is perhaps inevitable that work conflicts crop up, but Knapp says that the filming of the television series drew their family closer. "Often times, very difficult situations and things that make you work really hard will pull you closer together." Some of those "difficult situations" include managing his relationship with his children.

He shares that he was resistant to the ideas they proposed in the beginning because he felt he was their boss. "I realized how much they had to offer and we became a much strong team and family because of that. "Praising his children for their "great job" in building the family business, he shares that his hope is for his four children to continue honing their craft and to make a living off from blacksmithing.

To Knapp, the most rewarding experience for blacksmiths comes in the moment between finishing a project and sending it "out of the door." He elaborates: "At that moment, you're reflecting upon all the hours that you took to learn the craft and really take a look at what you put into [the project], what kind of beauty you put into the world."

Image credit: HISTORY

Milwaukee Blacksmith, which will soon premiere on HISTORY Channel, is not just a series that chronicles the ins and outs of a family working together. The craft of blacksmithing dates back approximately 5,000 years ago, and while Knapp has moved with the times by using hydraulic presses, arc welding, and plasma cutting, many of the blacksmithing processes have remained the same.

The increased productivity and lowered cost of production are a boon, but he remarks that the demand for mass-produced items creates price-sensitive customers. "Probably the biggest challenge for blacksmithing [businesses] now is to figure out how they fit into the current economy... I think the way that blacksmiths market themselves is what makes the difference," he adds.

Milwaukee Blacksmith premieres first and exclusively on HISTORY (StarHub TV Channel 401) on 23 March 2017 at 10pm (GMT+8).

 

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