How the Smith of Kirillov Shod the Flea with Horseshoes

The blacksmith’s work was associated with magic from time immemorial. The smith could work with indomitable fire element. Thick metal melted and turned into a liquid. Shapeless pieces of iron turned into useful and wonderful things. Masters doing magic around the smith’s hearth were considered to be magicians. Their work was generously paid and smiths were held in respect. The smithcraft was in its heyday in the 19th century when smiths worked everywhere. There were plenty of them in Kirillov and its outskirts. Both tools, crosses for numerous churches and decorative elements for architectural buildings were made in the forges.

A lot of time passed before the smithcraft began to develop again. In spite of the fact that neither his father nor his grandfather was a smith, Nikolay Mitin is a keeper of ancient traditions, a wizard with steel muscles and poetic soul. He belongs to not numerous fanatics of a hammer and an anvil. He says about himself: “the forge is for strong people”, “I can also create things which were made in the forge”. Nikolay Mitin has been working in the forge since 1989, having mastered blacksmithing himself. First he forged usual driver’s tools, such as crow bars, hammers, sledge-hammers. Many modern forges are mechanized, but Mitin made all tools and devices for his forge himself. According to him, he always had a longing for the forge fire, red-hot metal and the smith’s hammer. Nikolay Mitin equipped two forges and mastered artistic forging. He forges gratings, crosses, locks, metal details of fireplaces, fulfilling numerous orders in his smithy in the Peski village.

Restorers asked for his help many times and commissioned forged nails, gratings, locks and keys for them. Nobody wanted to restore the entrance gate of the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery – its lower part was deteriorated. They looked for specialists in Cherepovets and outside the Vologda region. But the master lived nearby. The restorer S.B. Kulikov said: “ cannot notice where the old forging is and where it is new”. The largest article made by Nikolay Mitin was a bar for the gate of the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery, it weighed almost 100 kg. A lot of wonderful works of art made by the smith of Kirillov can be shown in the Kirillo-Belozersky, the Ferapontov monasteries and the Goritsy convent. Using restorers’ drafts, he made special bench axes for restoration work.

His son Alexander works together with the father. Sasha liked sweetish smoke of the forge, tenacious reddish metal which could be easily worked with a hammer when he was at school. It was he who helped his father to restore 4 metres high gate of the monastery. According to the father, his son has mastered the skills of the smithcraft and will occupy a rightful place among masters of one of the most ancient professions in future.

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