Surfing the Old Year out.

Happy Haven Forge  Albania 

Hello everyone, welcome to my blog. The intent is still to bring to you topics, pictures and links of interest to those that have an interest in the Art of Blacksmithing even though I have relocated to Shkoder, Albania. I will also bring you the humorous side of starting up a Smithy in an area  where there are virtually no Artist Blacksmiths or Blacksmiths to my knowledge. Naturally I am fluent in Albanian, not don’t speak but 5 or 6 words, That will be the adventure and challenge of it. I am looking forward to getting started and bringing you my bits of wisdom.   Thanks for stopping by hope to See ya at the Forge!


Video  —  Posted: July 21, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Been a long time

Posted: May 7, 2018 in Uncategorized

Hi everyone, I have been gone a long time. This past month I had a flurry of activity making  a lily in a vase, a Crucifix and I am partially done with a sculpture of two dancers. Both the Crucifix and sculpture are in keeping with more modern lines, more figurative rather than literal interpretations. It was good to be out there using the hammer. As you can see the drawing of the dancers looks more like boxers. Hahaha.

My dog Mimi came in for a visit. She has a broken leg and was all happy to be outside. We have to keep her corralled for at least 8 weeks to make sure it is healing well.

Photos left to right: Female dancer parts, crucifix full face, Lily in a vase, reverse twist of headboard, next two body of Christ being formed, side profile of crucifix, Dancer sketch and my girlie dog Mimi.

Okay folks there you have it. I am still blacksmithing, just took a hiatus for a few(?) months. Hope to be back making more stuff. I will post when I complete the dancers and a headboard I am making.  

Thanks for stopping by!

See ya at the Forge!



The Garden Gate

Posted: September 14, 2017 in Uncategorized

It went through several design changes due to material changes. I remembered what a friend of mine told me once, don’t work so hard make it easy on yourself. Here in Albania my original version would have been too much and out of place considering the building it is next to, so I settled on the basic rectangular shape.

I had to re-learn a couple of things about tack welding sheet metal, the first being it is too thin for my machine because I don’t have and can’t get 1mm rod. This caused me to burn a couple of the edges and required a different approach. I put a thin strip all the way up and welded the sections in place. This might be better in the long run because it allows you to remove damaged or rusted sections as needed and you can replace them without any welding required.

The hinges are just stock store bought hinges, making this required my entire shop to be moved around and the boss was in a hurry. Her sister was visiting the following week. The handles are plain as is the gate latch bolt.

The idea was they would disappear and you could focus on the gate. It seems to work. Same thing with the sheet metal sections, they are all 14cm wide and I painted the flanges to give them the appearance to be floating. I would have used a black with blue pigment added, but I couldn’t obtain a pigment to tint it with.

Everyone is happy with the black and the gate. My work is a success!

In the two smaller photos you can see the old gate with it’s Communist Jail feel to it and Happy Haven Forge Albania ready for action once again. 🙂


Latest Project

Posted: August 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

Latest project is a garden/privacy gate leading to the backyard. It will replace an old gate made in haste to keep the marauders at bay before this part of the property was reclaimed from the communists and fenced off this July.

The gate is made from left over materials from the fence and a temporary sheet metal wall. To speed the hammered look I made a special tool, :). I thought I would be able to weld each individual section onto the frame, but that didn’t work out so I used welded strips to hold them in place. The hammering made the sheet metal fairly stiff. I also thought I would have enough ventilation in my back section of my shop, but with the zinc coating I decided not to chance the exposure and set up in the forge side. Very tight for this size project. I will move both doors back to the larger back section to weld the frame, hinges and slide bolt in place. I will add a few more pics when I finish the entire project.

Thanks for stopping by!



BlacksmitHer Interview

Posted: March 5, 2017 in Uncategorized

Hi Guys!

You will never guess what happened to me last week. I was contacted by Victoria Patti of BlacksmitHer Radio ( to be a guest interviewee. What a surprise. She knew all about my blacksmith books and was up to date on my fiction books as well. Surprise, surprise. I hope I didn’t sound too bad as I know I don’t have a radio like voice. I don’t when it will cast, but be on the lookout and of course I will let you know right here as always.

Lately I have been doing a bunch of tin work, making shelves and covers of a sort for a few guys I know here. Of course I don’t have a break so it makes forming the metal interesting and I forgot to take pictures. I have one such project left and will get some before I finish it and after. It is a half shelf for myself. I need to get the paper scraps off my desk. The are always spreading out and taking over.

The Kayak season has started, in truth I could have been out a couple of weeks ago, but I kept putting it off until the real feel temp got to 60 and by then it really was 60. It was a beautiful day yesterday.



Snow capped Albanian Alps in background.

That’s the update for now. I expect this year to do a couple of Aluminum castings and I will be sure to photo doc them so you can see how that goes.



See ya at the Forge!!!


P.S. My new fiction book Rozafa’s Secrets is one step closer to being published. Here’s the synopsis:

American Blacksmith John Reid is excited about participating in the first Annual Rozafa Castle Craftsmen Festival in Shkoder, Albania.  While in route an Inspector Buchari of Interpol Albania requests his assistance in combating his country’s international criminals.  John’s strong sense of justice will not allow him to turn his back. He agrees and confirms criminal involvement with the event. Unknown to John, Rozafa Castle has secrets of its own. Secrets capable of toppling corrupt members of the Albanian Parliament from their pedestals of power. When he is discovered by his host Victor Glasser and unable to escape he fears becoming yet another skeleton lost in the bowels of the ancient castle. His only hope lies with his Albanian friend Nik and Victor’s kept woman Donika.




Welcome 2017

Posted: December 31, 2016 in Uncategorized

In those last ten seconds of the New Year where almost universally across the globe can all that hope for the new year be a force that propels use all into prosperity and peace.

May you be full of peace, prosperity and health throughout.


The New Year has begun on Tonga Island – We all have to catch up:

Find out in which order countries worldwide enter 2017. Which country is first, which one is last?


Posted: December 22, 2016 in Uncategorized



Wishing everyone a Joyful Christmas and a Happy New Year with Health and Prosperity throughout the year.

Having a distrust of all things cloudy based I decided to take a leap of faith and try Dropbox to keep my books in progress sync’d between my computers. I have decided to use a small laptop instead of a tablet for my mobile work. So far the tests have been good and I have no reason to suspect that future use will prove to be any less successful.

For me this comes at the right moment as I begin my second pass of my new book, Rozafa’s Secrets due out Spring 2017. Now I am able to  work away from my desk when I want or need to without all the copy and pasting from word to Scrivener. Ah, much joy is had.

Rozafa’s Secrets – John Reid is invited to be a guest demonstrator and speaker at the First Annual Rozafa Castle Ancient Skills Fair in Shkoder, Albania and is engaged by the police to assist them to uncover a criminal enterprise.  Albania is a country where nothing is as it seems; everyone has secrets, even your friends.

Thanks for stopping by and until next time;

See ya at the Forge!!!




Posted: November 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


Being a Blacksmith is fortunate, why, because we always have something to be thankful for. Not hitting our fingers, burning ourselves, the ability to make a new tool and better yet to occasionally sell one!

So raise your glass and give a toast to the blessings that have been bestowed. Remember to think about all those others who have to go to the store just to get a chisel!

Image result for thanksgiving images vintage

See Ya at the Forge!!!





Mushroom Farm Experiment

Posted: September 8, 2016 in Uncategorized


   A while back I helped a friend of mine grow mushrooms here in Albania. The single most costly issue was having enough spawn to get the process going. Shipping to Albania is very expensive and many will not ship here. I found a place to ship small quantities to me and we made do. At the early stage it really didn’t matter, we had enough at 180 grams.

  The top pictures are the first habitat that we tried and while we grew mushrooms it was small, and didn’t allow for enough light for our species to grow to their full potential. At this stage we recorded our moisture both in the substrate and the air everyday. We learned a lot.

   My partner in crime Nik decided that we should convert his wood shed. So we did. We covered the walls with insulation and plastic on the inside. Made the top portion of the Southeast wall clear to allow enough light in. We had large bushes diffusing any direct light before it hit our windows so it worked out perfectly. We used blankets soaked in water as a humidity control, but soon found that with the concrete floor after getting the humidity up to about 90% we only needed to wet the floor every other day to maintain at least 85%. It worked out perfectly.

    Unfortunately Nik discovered that this business would take too much time away from his primary business of his restaurant. So after having success with growing our second batch of test mushrooms  he decided that he could not pursue this further.

   I agreed to carry on the experiment in the hopes that someone else would be interested in taking our lessons learned and my new batch of locally cultivated spores that were becoming spawn to the next level. Commercial production of mushrooms in Albania. I was successful growing a third batch of mushrooms from the spawn I produced. I also experimented with Shitake, Lions Head, Wine and King Mushrooms. I was successful with those except for the Shitake, though my yield of the wine mushrooms was not great, but I am sure I could have improved it over time.

  I offered our experiments and lessons to three people here and while everyone was hot to trot to start, once they realized farming mushrooms isn’t quite as easy as they think they backed out. Now to be honest one just couldn’t find a space to make it happen and was probably the best choice of the three, but he was space poor. I told him if he is ever interested again I would help him get it started.

   So in summary:

   Phase one: Grow Oyster Mushrooms consistently in a straw substrate. Accomplished.

   Phase two: Cultivate and collect spores to reproduce in commercial quantities. Accomplished.

   Phase three: Begin growing commercial quantities year round. Not accomplished

   Phase four: Expand other Mushroom experiments for commercial runs. Not accomplished.


   It was a great experiment for me as I didn’t know anything about growing mushrooms and still have tons to learn.  The entire experiment lasted from September 2015 to April of 2016. I did cultivate, inoculate, spawn  and grow oyster mushrooms from spores. I was very happy with the results. It can be done inexpensively in Albania. It would have created at least 5 jobs and a whole new industry of recycling the waste stream for either compost or animal feed.

    So Albania has to rely on imported mushrooms until some other Albanian entrepreneur takes it up. We learned a lot and had few laughs along the way.

   Back to the Forge!










It’s been a while

Posted: May 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

While I have been busy writing my new book and all the other stuff that goes with it. It always amazes me that whenever it says build a website in one hour it takes me all day or longer and then I have to edit everything for the next four days. Maybe they mean you can get signed on in an hour. Who knows, right? hahaha. New book is called –

— The Blacksmith Murders —


Now for what has been going on in my shop — I personally haven’t done much, a small candle holder with a Lilly and Cattail for my wife’s Aunt’s 80th birthday. She has asked many times when I was going to make her something and so I got hot.

My apprentice FJ on the other hand has been busy making all kinds of stuff. Candle holders, bottle openers, torches and a sign for a friend of his that has a cafe. Here’s a few photos of his stuff.

I walk by the sign all the time and forget to take a picture of it. We didn’t paint it or install it, but it looks really good. I will try to remember to take a picture of it for next time.

I continue to kayak Lake Shkoder and will make it down Buna River to the Adriatic this season. That’s that plan anyway.

From Albania,

See ya at the Forge!!!!


Putting the handle on his hammer today means that he can start to use, “his Hammer!” He did a fine job of making the tools to make it and making it. I am sure he will use it for years to come with pleasure. Nothing better than using something you made. Okay here’s a few photos: