On a busy day in Kashief Booley’s smithy in Prince Albert, there’s an industrial opera in progress. The forge breathes like a dragon. The cherry-red steel sings as it is beaten into shape on the anvil. The hot metal hisses as it drops into a bucket of water to be quenched and tempered.
Then there’s the heavy percussion of the mechanical hammer and the whine of the grinder, showering sparks. And the different note that every finished piece makes, when struck. It’s all soul music to Kashief – and something more besides.
Over the forge, in Arabic, is written one of Islam’s best-known texts – the Prayer of the Blacksmith.
“When you light up a forge it’s a spiritual process. The minute I first saw a blacksmith at work, I was fascinated. Fire and human creativity are powerful elements. And metal is a comfortable medium for me. I love designing and working with it.”
And living in the stylish village of Prince Albert under the spell of the graceful Swartberg mountain range has its own artisanal inspiration for Kashief.
He makes chandeliers, chairs, tables, small and massive gates, grates, wine racks, bedsteads, lanterns, butcher’s racks, burglar bars, door handles, anything made out of metal.
Being a blacksmith requires a strong arm, good hand-eye coordination, a certain degree of fitness and the creative ability to visualise things on a multi-dimensional level.
And as he works, as he strikes, as he forges and as he cools, Kashief Booley brings the magic and the music out of the steel and into the world.