In 1989, Jason Nickel began working in master blacksmith Jack Brubaker’s shop. Over the years, he built a deep understanding of and ability in the art of blacksmithing and in 2007 became the lead blacksmith in Jack’s shop. Now, Jason helps his apprentice, 13-year-old Paolo Ansaldo, learn the basics of the craft and develop his style. “Everybody has got their own something that sets them apart...People were generous to me when I was learning the blacksmithing trade. I’d like to keep the tradition alive in the next generation,” says Jason.
Paolo’s favorite part of blacksmithing is transformation: “I change this lifeless lump of metal into a beautiful work of art or a useful tool.” Paolo and Jason work together at Brubaker’s forge. Jason’s daughter, Iris, also decided to apprentice with her father after “always being around it [her] whole life.” The apprenticeship will culminate in a “durable and beautiful gate for the Bloomington community orchard.”