My Peruvian Odyssey

Blacksmithing | OT: Sandbox YAK

I recently went to Peru to give a seminar on blacksmithing techniques to the local peruvian metalsmithing community. The seminar was sponsored by Aceros Arequipa - the main steel manufacturer in Peru. This video includes my experience of the traffic, sightseeing, visiting blacksmith shops, the seminar, and even my travels to Cusco, Aguas Calientes, and Machu Picchu. There is no narration, but there is some really nice Andean music, still photos and live video included in this movie.

The seminar, which is in its 6th year, is geared towards the revival of ornamental ironwork in the country. Most metalworkers are currently creating simple straight picket grillwork and gates which address home security. The emphasis on these seminars is to show other metalsmithing techniques which will allow peruvian metalworkers to find new markets for their products. The seminar I gave went into various forging techniques and the use of oxyacetylene torches to hot form and cut mild steel to create a candleholder.

This seminar was the first time in which the participants were actually able to learn by performing the various techniques. They learned the basics of forging a leaf from 3/8” round, hot cut textures into 1” square using the torch, twisted beautiful patterns in 3/4” hex bar, and learned to apply a rustic copper patina to the finished candelabra.

I also had the opportunity to visit several blacksmith shops and to learn more about the tools and types of metalwork the typical metalworker uses. I have to say that I was very impressed with the metalwork these folks are producing with the limited equipment they have at their disposal. The average shop has a welding machine, a grinder, and vise. Few shops have forges or anvils, and even fewer have oxyacetylene torch setups. I’ve learned that something needs to be done to make the equipment available and affordable to these metalworkers. They have the desire to better themselves and their craft, but they are running into roadblocks in being able to afford to purchase the basic tools needed for their craft.

I will be returning to Peru in the near future to give additional seminars. Now that I have a good idea of what the peruvian blacksmith is up against, the workshops will be geared towards their ability to independently sell their hand crafted products to markets other than the home security market. The key is in showing that the blacksmith can financially make a better living from being creative in the decorative arts and crafts field than simply cutting and welding straight bars for gates and grillwork.

I want to give a special thanks to Gerardo Castillo for going well beyond his responsibilities for Aceros Arequipa. He was a gracious host who helped me get around Peru. If it wasn’t for his assistance I would probably still be lost somewhere in the Amazon. Another thanks goes to Cesar Vasquez. His ability to communicate the needs of the peruvian blacksmith and the openness to listen to new ideas on how to unite the metalsmithing community was refreshing. It isn’t every day that a large steel manufacturer takes on the task to improve not only the professionalism of the metalworker, but insists on making an impact on creating a more beautiful Peru by increasing the level of craftsmanship among its native inhabitants.

I also want to thank Nicolas Monterroso Ramos for being my initial contact via my web site. He put me in contact with Aceros Arequipa and really made this trip possible. He also showed me around the beautiful city of Lima and showed me his shop. I have to say that out of all the blacksmiths present at the seminar, Nicolas has the most enthusiasm and desire to learn the art of blacksmithing.

Last but not least, a heartfelt thanks goes to Carlos and Jack. These two guys run the blacksmith shop for Aceros Arequipa. They did the brunt of the work to set up the forges, anvils, vices, helpers, and oxyacetylene equipment. When I got there, some equipment had been purchased, but the majority of the setup was yet to be realized. These guys stayed very busy all week not only having to learn my class so they can teach it throughout the year, but they had to get everything in order for the classes to start the following week. It was a true pleasure working with you guys!

All in all, this was a most noteworthy experience in my metalworking career! I actually have a 20 minute movie I created documenting “My Peruvian Odyssey” in the podcast section of my web site. Or you can click on the YouTube play button below to view the same movie. Take a look to see how I spent three weeks in beautiful Peru.

Frosty's picture

QuiQue!! What a story; no


What a story; no wonder we haven't been hearing much from you recently. What a good deal, you get to travel around Peru AND help a bunch of folk.

Thanks for sharing.


"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;
The real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light."

- - Plato

QuiQue's picture

The story is not over


It's been a real blast! I don't think these workshops/ seminars on blacksmithing are over. Actually I believe we are just beginning. There is much that can be shared with the Peruvians. They can use the knowledge many of the US blacksmiths have acquired over the years. Some of these folks are already accessing the blacksmithing content we have posted on the Internet. Their main problem is that most of them do not speak english. And the translators on Google and Alta Vista are terrible for translating technical terms.

But there is hope...

Let's all give of our metalsmithing knowledge when ever someone asks. I'd love to see blacksmithing continue to be a viable craft for generations to come. Wouldn't you? 

Rocio Heredia's picture

 Hola Enrique, Thanks for

 Hola Enrique,

Thanks for sharing your video "My Peruvian Odyssey".

¡Increíbles tomas de la Ciudad Perdida de los Incas! 

Podría apostar que tu español es perfecto ahora... Wink

rocio heredia, designer metalsmith |

QuiQue's picture

Mi español no es perfecto,

Mi español no es perfecto, pero much ha volvido ha mi mente y puedo hablar español mucho mejor. El problema es en escribir en español.

It was a true enlightning experience!

warren's picture

Thanks for sharing

Thanks for sharing your trip. The video was a pleasure watching and the music brought smiles. You always seem to do everything first class. The trip must of been a pleasure doing and it is very inspiring.


Jim Cotter's picture

Great video and music track.

Great video and music track. Must have been a cool trip.
Hope you ate your fill of Ceviche. Cheers.

QuiQue's picture

The ceviche was fabulous! It

The ceviche was fabulous! It was my first time eating raw fish cooked with lime juice. I believe the peruvians were the first to come up with this dish. They certainly know how to make it with special suaces and additional vegetables. I was amazed at how many different types of vegetables, fruits, and herbs they have in Peru.

Glad you enjoyed the video.

QuiQue's picture

Warren, I am glad you

Warren, I am glad you enjoyed the video and that you appreciate the time I've put into giving a quality presentation of my experience in Peru! It took me a couple of days to put it together, but I thought it was worth putting the effort into communicating my experience with you.

BTW, I used the Macs iMovie application to compose the movie. It has a built in "Travel" template to help with the intro and chapters.

Bill Roberts's picture


looks like you had a wonderful time. Sounds like so much fun. Great video. Really enjoyed the music, and the shots of the mountain views and ancient stone Bet you can hardly wait to go back. I can only imagine that you still feel like you have your head in the clouds. Did you get to sit on the shores of Lake Titicaca?
thanks for's the next best thing to being there.

Bill Roberts

QuiQue's picture

No, I didn't get to Lake

No, I didn't get to Lake Titcaca. Cusco was high enough for me. I didn't know what the effect of altitute can do to your body. It took me a day to get over the headaches, muscle cramps, dizzyness, and upset stomach. Boy, the bad thing was that after getting use to the altitute, I left for two days to go to the lower altitude of Machu Picchu and then returned to Cusco to go through the torturous physical pain in Cusco once more before leaving for Lima.

But I do have to say that there was more good times than bad times during this trip. My eyes were opened to another way of life. There are subtleties in the culture of these ancient people that we are not exposed to here in the US. The Peruvians are for the most part kind, gentle, and eager to be your friends. The women are also beautiful with their copper tone skin color, long black hair, and beautiful sparkling eyes and smiles. ;-)

Dal's picture

Great Stuff

Brilliant stuff. Can't wait to see the Marci Chandelier Part 3.

QuiQue's picture

Yea I can't wait to see it

Yea I can't wait to see it either. Undecided Somebody kick me in the butt to go finish the chandelier!

Alex in Welderland's picture

Amazing lands

Quite fabulous, Enrique. I can imagine the experience of sharing your work and learning from their's must have been very rewarding.

Thank you for the wonderful video,

"a special place for a special pet"

QuiQue's picture

Yes, it was truly rewarding.

Yes, it was truly rewarding. I'm having a difficult time reintegrating myself back into the normal stuff. Seems like everything has a dull sheen to it...

I guess this is what happens when you come down off of a really special high. Geez, what's next?... gotta go create it...

SteelyJan's picture

QuiQue- would love to make that trip! jealous!

As a new member I've only seen some of your work. Phenonmenal!!!!!
I love art deco and have use elements of it in alot of my furniture design. But I took alittle time out this morning to view some of your video. WOW!!!!
I had a peruvian assistant for many years and I learned a lot of doing things so simply. I actually got an idea for a lamp watching some of the "primitive techniques they were using. I hope to get some of my work up soon. ( have to get my son to do it as I'm not overly computer oriented. But I am addicted to this web site
Thanks Janet

QuiQue's picture

Glad you've joined the

Glad you've joined the ArtMetal community Janet. You were talking about art deco. I don't know if you noticed when you visited my personal web site, but I have a photo gallery dedicated to a book I had the opportunity to scan which was written in the early 1900's.

Metal Art Exhibit Catalog (Paris 1925)

The actual album is located here. Hope you enjoy it and can learn from the old masters depicted in the ironwork they produced long ago. 

visitor's picture

The actual album

That album is wonderful! I'd never seen most of those pieces' pics.

We haven't met yet. I'm peter fels and have been bothering innocent bits of metal since the mid '60s, here on the edge of the far left coast.
I think that we have irritated a number of people in common.
Congratulation on dragooning Rich W to Artmetal.
He's a very admirable guy.

Rich Waugh's picture

Hey Pete, it's great to see

Hey Pete, it's great to see you pop in here! Feel free to hang around and get your brain picked. (grin)

Anyone that isn't familiar with Peter's work should look it up and be amazed. When I grow up (not likely, I admit) I want to have a front door on my studio that is as impressive as Peter's.


visitor's picture

Forging pen

Dear, Kike.
I would like to see pictures of forging pen.