Meet Vince Bergkamp, a veteran blacksmith with over 30 years experience.
I started welding at 12 years of age, a skill I picked up through a combination of observation of my father and uncle, as well as trial and error. I remember being a child, bending metal over a Vulcan anvil in our farm shop.
Well-read in the novels of Jack London, as a young adult I sought out an adventurous wilderness lifestyle in Alaska in 1976. As I settled in the state, in addition to blacksmithing, I learned the skill of shoeing horses, a role known as being a farrier. Inspired by this new-found skill, I organized the first Alaskan Farriers clinic in 1986, which I ran for the next 16 years.
Having an opportunity to visit the Land of the Midnight Sun was a big attraction for some well-known and highly skilled European blacksmiths. Subsequently I was fortunate to receive instruction from second and third generation artisans from the United Kingdom. Having been the beneficiary of so much expertise, I now enjoy passing on this knowledge through one-on-one instruction and through demonstrations.
Additionally, I have entered numerous farrier and forging competitions, which have done much to increase my skills in the craft.
“I often dream of the different forms I want to forge out of iron. Iron and steel is a wonderful medium in which to work.”
One of my favorite projects was an altar railing for St Michaels Catholic church in Palmer, AK. I have also done three commissioned prices for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Anchorage, including stands for a canon and bell from a 1700’s sailing ship.
While I take great pride in all of these notable accomplishments, the vast majority of my work has been for homeowners. I know having these uniquely crafted works mean a lot to my clients, which means the world to me.
In 2015, my wife and I moved just north of Eagle, Idaho to be closer to family. Since then I have been reestablishing myself as a professional blacksmith in the state, including instructing and doing various iron work projects.
As you can hopefully infer from the above, blacksmithing is a great love of mine. When asked why it means so much to me, I like to defer to Samuel Yellin, an American master.