In the Town Council of Irixoa there is an artisanal forge where Álvaro Varela Rodríguez works as a blacksmith.
The craft of blacksmithing is one of the most deeply rooted crafts in Galicia. Blacksmiths were the ones who provided society with numerous tools, especially those for cutting and for farming. When the industrial products became cheaper, the volume of artisanal production of these goods decreased substantially. Today, some of these traditions are progressively disappearing, even though the craft is still alive. Thus, the craft is mainly dedicated nowadays to manufacturing decorative and artistic elements.
In the process of elaborating iron pieces, Álvaro works maintaining the artisanal methods. His work is carried out always – from the moment he receives the commission until the very end – following the process below:
In a forge one can find the following elements:
In the old days, in many places, blacksmiths were considered some sort of magicians (feiticeiros as they would call them in Galicia) with magical powers, who used the basic elements of fire and water to transform matter. Today, that magical aura which revolved the craft has disappeared, even though the idea that the blacksmith is a master craftsman with an enviable talent is still current. Álvaro Varela wants to do his bit to ensure that artisanal forge progressively acquires greater importance and so does the craft of blacksmithing. Following this aim, he elaborates his works in a completely artisanal way.
His training is mainly self-taught. However, his first steps in the profession were carried out alongside Antonio S.M., known within the area of Betanzos by the name of “el mañas”. He then carried out works related to welding, machinery to manufacture clogs, wells, etc. After that, while he was carrying out the Military Service, he worked at the Park and the Workshop of Artillery in La Coruña. He later set up his own workshop and specialized in artisanal forging.
– Interior curved handrail (published in the magazine Love, number 187 on 1 April 2015).
– Chandelier belonging to the Parish Church of Nuestra Señora del Carmen (A Coruña).
– Lamp for the Church of the Virgen de los Remedios in Betanzos (A Coruña).
– Other works such as: balconies, wrought iron grilles, doorways, lanterns, etc.