- Some of the primitive knife designs resulting from my nephew's recent 'hobby." Image: Rick Tate

This Christmas, my husband was among the many in our family to receive from our nephew a hand-forged knife made from railroad spike. Our nephew just turned 16.

This past year, my newphew decided to build his own forge out of an old propane tank. I haven't had the good fortune to see the forge yet so I don't have details on its construction, but his dad (my brother) told me he did the entire thing on his own.

Now, this teenage metalsmith spends time visiting junk yard and junk shops, as well as old deserted pieces of railway and machinery, looking for spikes, nails, pipes and discarded pieces of metal and wood. Over the break, he went on a quest to find some T-Springs for his latest knife project, and is hoping to save up for an old anvil (which we all learned this season are quite expensive).

My brother told me he if often up before the rest of the family, getting the forge ready and working on new projects, from knives to jewerly, to paperweights. One gift for me was a pretty substantional bracelet he pounded out of an old copper pipe. The thing is not only attractive, but it's heavy enough to serve as self defense (hopefully, that won't ever be an issue). My father also received a large knife my nephew made from an old bed post and scrap wood.

From copper pipe for fashion cuff. Image: Lisa Tate

From copper pipe for fashion cuff. Image: Lisa Tate

What most impresses me about these gifts, is that when so many teens are working hard to learn coding and graphic design on computers (good and worthy skills, I realize), it is nice to see some still desiring to get their hands dirty, and take on some creative DIY, especially using items that would otherwise be rusting away and forgotten.

For those who lament the younger generations becoming more sedintary, living on their phones and computers, and forgetting some of the skills we ourselves may have long forgotten, there are still plenty of them ready to forge ahead into the future of creative, old school hands-on crafts.

Thanks to my nephew, I'm more excited about where the next generations of makers and artisans will take us.

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