Christopher Niemer was born with metal in his blood—both his father and grandfather were machinists. Chris Niemer has been Department Head of The Crucible's Blacksmithing Department since its first opened it doors in 1999. “For me, metalsmithing is a form of alchemy, forging the past into the future using the tools that are present.” Keep reading.
The most prominent thing that Chris sees students getting out of the smithy is a tactile understanding of physical properties and geometry and an appreciation for how things are made. The results of a wrong hammer blow are very graphic. Learning how to work with metal teaches students how to understand angles, positioning, and force and how that is applied to material. Students also gain a new perspective on metalwork and walk away with being able to see the difference between machine-made and handmade. As Chris put it, “when things are exactly alike, you know a machine made it. When things have variance, you know that a human hand was involved.”
Chris credits The Crucible with giving him the greatest source of unrestrained creativity in his artistic work and he is grateful to have gotten the chance to build the smithy into one of the Bay Area’s best places to swing a hammer!