MEET THE MAKER: Julian Suitor

Julian Suitor is a familiar face here at the Hammer. A blacksmith based in Braidwood, Julian often incorporates timber into his work, so is often found in our dressed timber racks looking for the perfect piece of recycled timber. He also makes custom handles for some of the doors we build. Julian took some time out to tell us a bit more about his practice.

Julian at work

Julian at work

Tell us what you love about timber...

I have always felt that timber and iron are made to be together. A lot of my work is set against timber, or timber forms an integral part of its function – handles for knives and axes or the archway for an iron-clad door. Trees, woods, bush – they all give us so much and for as long as we have been recording, we have been using timber to build our houses and keep us warm at night. There is just something about a rough sawn piece or an exposed beam that adds warmth and coziness to a dwelling.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

What are you most proud of making?

I always feel a sense of satisfaction and achievement with each new piece that a make. In Blacksmithing, I feel as though you can never really settle in a rut, as there are so many skills that blend into each other – you are constantly pushing forward. Lately, I am very happy with the axes I have been forging. I am trying to incorporate as many of the old ways as possible – before steel was plentiful and still precious, smiths were forge-welding carbon steel wedges into mild steel billets – a feature of many of my axes. One of the most satisfying aspects of this craft are minimizing waste and stretching the material as far as functionally possible.

One of Julian’s axes

One of Julian’s axes

Rustic or Clean Dressed (timber of course)?

I have always been a fan of rustic, I love the cracks and patina that develops over time, telling the story of where it came from or the life it has had since being repurposed by human hands. Although I did recently pick up some clean dressed bench tops from the Hammer for my leatherworking/clean area…

A door handle Julian made recently for one of our ledge and brace doors

A door handle Julian made recently for one of our ledge and brace doors

A metal flower

A metal flower

If you had to work with just one material…

I would choose High Carbon Steel. I believe that as a maker/craftsperson you should make what you love. My passion lies in making edged tools for hands to use, and I believe that Carbon Steel hold an edge like no other…

One of Julian’s carbon steel knives

One of Julian’s carbon steel knives

Downtime is best spent…

In the garden and cooking. We grow most of our own fruit and veg and really enjoy gardening for its ornamental value. Having lived in all states of Australia, the biggest draw of the Canberra region for settling down was the four seasons and the bounty that only a deep chilling in winter can bring. And nothing makes you feel more alive than wet earth between your fingers.

Recommend us your best source of inspiration

Go for a swim in an icy river, then a walk through a lonely forest and sit by a fire that you have built. Do it alone.

What do you love about your job?

I love working in my own space and having the opportunity to create the things that come into my mind. I also love that it feels like a never-ending learning journey. I will certainly die without becoming a master – there is just too much to explore. Hopefully along the way I can share with people some of the pieces that I create, and they will go on to be used and perform how they were intended. For me this is the greatest satisfaction.

Getting the coals smoking

Getting the coals smoking

Julian can be found on Instagram or you can contact him directly if you want to talk to him about a project or book in for one of the many courses that he runs.