Since 1979 Artist Blacksmith’s Association of Finland has promoted high-quality Finnish forgemanship and metal craft design. The objective of ABAF is to encourage and improve the operational and entrepreneurial opportunities of its members as craft professionals. This aim is achieved with education, communication and organizing exhibitions and demonstrations.
The diversity of professional capabilities of the members of ABAF reflects the uniqueness of blacksmith’s craft in Finland. Ornamental wrought iron has traditionally complemented Central European architecture during the renaissance, baroque and art nouveau periods. Due to lack of large urban settlements the Finnish blacksmith was historically a maker of tools and other agricultural objects. Our largest cities have although fine examples of ornamental ironwork especially from the Nordic art nouveau era, also known as jugend. Older ironwork is preserved for example inside the Finland’s national shrine, Turku Cathedral. Some of the side chapels’ skilful wrought iron fences date back to 15 th century. Forgings still bear their makers imprint ‘Henrik Hienotaeseppä’ (Henry the Fine Art Blacksmith) which makes the work the oldest personally signed art object found in Finland.
The revival of artist blacksmithing in Finland begun in the early 1960’s when metal artist Kauko Moisio started co-operate with architects. Moisio’s minimalist and distinct vision of forging suited well in era’s modern functional buildings. One of the benchmarks of the fruitful collaboration between Moisio and architects Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen is the decor of Church in Rock, the main architectural attraction of Helsinki. Moisio’s metal works around the altar area represent the same inimitable Finnish design as Tapio Wirkkala’s wood and glassworks or Alvar Aalto’s furniture.
Since 1960’s Finnish blacksmithing has evolved along with the global modern metalwork revival. Today ABAF has over one hundred members including students and hobbyists to internationally renowned master blacksmiths alike. To maintain and develop the noble craft of blacksmithing is the essential goal of the association. International co-operation is a significant tool in this intention. ABAF is a member of international blacksmithing organisations ABANA (Artist Blacksmith’s Association of North America) and BABA (British Artist Blacksmiths Association). We welcome our international colleagues to make acquaintance with Finnish metal design via member galleries.