Oksana Kirilyuk works at a Minsk smithy. Economist by education, Oksana has worked as a blacksmith for four years.
Economist by education, Oksana Kirilyuk has worked as a blacksmith for four years. She's 36 years old and last 10 years of her life are connected to metal.
First Oksana bought a pregnang horse that was doomed to death at a meat processing factory. Then the horse born a foal, then another one. So Oksana needed to build a stable. All welders the wanted to make some works for her stable were not reliable so she decided to become a welder and entered a special training course.
As Oksana had been interested in ancient mythology and Viking history, she wanted to work with metal. Had finished the welders' courses, Oksana realised she's able to master a blacksmith's work. For about two years she had been an apprentice to famous Belarusian blacksmiths before started to work by her own. First independent forged work by Oksana was a steel rose.
Oksana makes decorations for fireplaces, cottages, gardens etc. She works both with cold and red-hot metal.
Oksana sees her job as a kind of art not only craft. Many ordres she executed were made for Oksana's friends. «If I like the thing I work with, I can execute it cheaper it costs», she addes.
Blacksmith's work is not seem to be a women's one, at least in Belarus, because traditionally it was a toil. Contemporary blacksmith uses a compressed air hammer to flatten red-hot metal and rather light hammers to shape it.
To make a steel leaf, Oksana burns the metal hot, than flattens the metal bar to make the leaf-shape, makes some decorations like veins, curves the leaf and polishes it. The process takes not more than an hour.
This job reduced her visual acuity because a blacksmith needs to see at a fire the metal is burning hot in. «The forge is to be a dark place because we have to watch the colour of metal to process it correctly», – Oksana says.
Oksana lives in a small town of Molodechno (80 km north-west from Minsk) but works in a Minsk smithy. This building on a Minsk suburb belongs to a man who is not interested in the blacksmith's work any more and has decided to sell the smithy. Oksana, who is leaving Belarus for two or three months to work in a Norwegian 10 century smithy, thinks that these days may be the last she works at this place. She says it with sadness because finds the smithy to be very comfortable and cosy.
Relatives and friends of Oksana have got used to her job, though first were surprised to with Oksana's choise, as it usually happens with such unexpected changes.