A Persistent Handmade World

The Story of the Blacksmith Family of Voslobeni Village

September 02, 2015  |  By Audrey Nouvel, France

A Persistent Handmade World

In Voslobeni Village - Harghita County (Romania), a visitor can count 2000 habitants. Among these people there is a one blacksmith family. The father, Constantin Tinca, created the workshop boutique forty-seven years ago and gave it his name. But being a blacksmith is heavy work, and so only one of his children has made this job his main goal in life. It is one of his sons: Costel Tinca.

The first characteristic of their workshop is that it is a rare example of perpetuated medieval traditions. Indeed, they use the same methods in their work as this family did hundreds of years ago. In fact, the blacksmith’s activity exists since the fifth century before Christ. So, when I entered in this artist studio, I was amazed by the history that it contains. There were anvils, hammers and a fire place - all perfect elements to absorb the visitor in the history and medieval life. When I visited another room of this pleasant little building, despite of the iron dust, I continued to discover an old-fashioned sphere. Mr. Tinca made some antique weapons like flails, swords and glaives. All these pieces are made in a traditional way.

And indeed, the workshop uses a noble material: iron. Even the etymology of the word blacksmith makes iron a veritable part of the tradition. It is composed of two parts: black and smith. Black refers to the iron’s color and smith reminds of us the verb “to smite”. So, iron is an inevitable element of the family’s artistic work. They use white hot iron bars to modulate this simple material in objects, like flowers. The iron is also utilized to make hammers of different sizes and surfaces. This is very important to create unique pieces which cannot be made by a machine. Every hammer stroke makes an original mark.

In consequence, in order to make every piece inimitable, the Tinca’s do not buy their tools in stores and don’t import anything except the basic material: iron. All their realizations are homemade, even the screws. They even built the machines they use. This way of creation is very rare nowadays because of the imports of feeble quality material from China. The industrialization of our world is also a part of the process with the machines proliferation. But this kind of work has a price: the two men have spent years on some projects. This explains why some of their pieces can even cost 5000 Euros. But as people say, quality is better than quantity.

Therefore no matter if the time to create a piece is very long, the Tinca family is very passionate about this trade. As a result, during a normal day they usually work from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm and even sometimes until 11:00 pm. Moreover, they do not take long holidays in order to enjoy their creative work. The Tincas are very humble people who succeed in what they love. The fact that this is a family business is also an accomplishment: the son learned the job from his father surrounded by love and patience. However, even if Costel learned the job from his father, he prefers doing different types of blacksmith pieces such as flowers or birds.  Even if the fact that all their pieces of art have a meaning is one of their similarities. Costel compares them to paintings - he can express anything with iron. And although he shares stories, people can imagine their own interpretation of every creation. 

The complementarily between the father and the son is palpable when the visitor hears the hammer's language, specific to each blacksmith even if there are similarities. It is a special way of communication between two blacksmiths. Every sound of a stroke has a meaning. It is like composing music. The stroke can make a hard or a soft sound, this sound is interpreted by the other partner who then chooses an adapted way of smite. It can be a bit dangerous because if one of them misunderstands the sound, he can hurt the other one. But both men are fond of their work and do not really take into consideration the risk brought by the fire, the hammer or the iron residues. This explains why they can create things as beautiful as doors' and windows' decorations, portal, street lamps and huge gates.  

Though the Constantin Tinca worshop is in Romania, the creations are not only reserved for Romanian clients. The Tinca family have contacts in a majority of European countries, especially the Latin ones. This could be explained by the fact that they have their own website (www.tincafierforjat.ro) but also because all pieces are handmade. Due to that the workshop has clients from France, Italy and even Switzerland. They work to embellish expensive villas across Europe, but also for the Orthodox church. They have made a gate for Mount Athos (orthodox monastries) in Macedonia, this place being considered by UNESCO as a world heritage center. This explains why they gain step by step a great reputation in the world. And indeed, nowadays, because of the fact that so many objects are made for a very cheap price, clients are asking for quality products more and more. 

Finally, this workshop is a very successful business, as the blacksmiths love what they do and their main goal is to make clients delighted. They are very proud of their way of creation, so they want to keep it as a family’s legacy. It will be a little bit complicated because Costel's wife has a different trade and a different way of life. Moreover, when they have a child, he does not think that he would push him or her to become a blacksmith: it is a vocation. However, like he said "iron is in our blood". 

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