Vitja Mikkjals Smiðju á Trøllanesi í summar, og fáa eina áhugaverda uppliving. Frásøgn og framvísing av arbeiði í opnum eldi, er eftir avtalu. Øll eru væl komin inn á gólvið. Opið er gerandisdagar frá kl. 13-20. Sí prísir o.a. í høgra bjálka.
About Economusée Mikkjal the Blacksmith
From the time of the Faroese settlement ca year 600, the production of tools and equipment has been of great importance in the struggle to survive in these tough islands in the North Atlantic. Hardly any wood or metal was available, so practically everything had to be imported by boat from our neighbouring countries.
There are many examples of the skill the Faroese had in manufacturing iron and steel and there are smithies and smithy relics in many villages. None of the old smithies are active today, however, to demonstrate how the blacksmith used to work e.g. the forge. There are four villages in Kalsoy, the two northernmost of which, Mikladalur and Trøllanes, are renowned for their smithies and skilled blacksmiths. In these smithies, they would primarily manufacture for own use, but many goods were also sold, e.g. tools and equipment for farming, whaling and fishing.
Objects manufactured in Trøllanes and the neighbouring village Mikladalur are found at Norðoya Fornminnasavn (the local historical museum). Knives, horseshoes, whaling hooks, axes, pots as well as small objects, e.g. candlesticks and hinges are found here.
Picture 1: Objects at Norðoya Fornminnasavn
The Faroese society experienced an immense transformation in the 19th and early 20th century. The industrial foundation changed fundamentally as fishing replaced farming as the main industry. The change caused small village smithies to close as the production moved to larger smithies on the mainland. The new smithies mainly focused on servicing the fish industry. Equipment and other tools which had formerly been homemade were instead imported from abroad. This development meant that much of the expertise and knowledge of ancient tradition and techniques disappeared.
Who is Mikkjal
Mikkjal is a young man in Trøllanes with a love of smithy work. He started working in an old abandoned smithy where even the forge had been removed. His skill as an artisan soon made him in demand as blacksmith in Kalsoy. Eventually, he acquired tools and experience. In 1994 he built a production hall part of which was fitted out as a modern smithy.
Mikkjal fell in love with art metalwork and began making iron railings and banisters. The demand is steadily increasing and most of Mikkjal’s time today is devoted to artistic blacksmithing.
Mikkjal Joensen was born in Trøllanes in 1965. In addition to working as a blacksmith, he has been a farmer on the Kallsgarður farm, which is his father’s copyhold farm. Since he was very young, Mikkjal has been enthusiastic about blacksmithing. In 2006, when the cattle of the farm was sold off, he had more time to work in the smithy and working on car- and tractor repairs was largely replaced by metalwork.
Mikkjal has also worked with the designer and artist Rógvi í Bø. Together they have produced e.g. tables and chairs and other handicraft. This work provided Mikkjal with experience in creating moulds.
Picture 2: Mould used for the domed boss on the Viking shields on the chairs made by Rógvi í Bø.
Mikkjal’s art metalwork activity has been growing. His assignments have included making church tower spires, churchyard gates, railings around monuments, staircase- and balcony iron railings etc.
Picture 3: Iron railings manufactured by Mikkjal
Tools & New Facilities
Mikkjal’s smithy is equipped with new tools and machinery and according to consultant Kasper Andresen1 the smithy is excellent and has everything required of a modern smithy.
With the present equipment and working conditions, Mikkjal can manufacture everything from small candlesticks to large objects requiring a lot of space. The production hall may be rearranged and extended according to the requirements, which is a great advantage.
When the smithy is equipped with forge and tools for working in forge fires, the opportunities for Mikkjal to really shine in the blacksmith trade will increase considerably. But it will also provide him with better conditions for manufacturing small objects for e.g. tourists.
Kasper Andresen2 has presented a plan for the layout of the smithy with a forge fires, and the architect Mayfinn Norðoy, Kontrast, has designed at new modern building for the Economusée project, so the history can be told in a fantastic environment. This will allowed Mikkjal to take visitors to observe the work process and tell the blacksmith history of the Faroes.
As previously mentioned, there are several old smithy remains around Mikladalur and Trøllanes. One of these smithies is so well preserved that it still has a forge, bellow, water mill and tools. This smithy will be connected to the Trøllanes Economusée concept.
Picture4: The Smithy of Nornastova in Mikladalur
The Environment & New Possibilities
The environment around Trøllanes is highly suitable for creative activity. The high and steep mountains are challenging and an inspiration to creative thinking. When Mikkjal was younger he says, he could not imagine that it was possible to run a proper smithy in Trøllanes. He was convinced it had to be on the mainland where the customers are. But at 15, he started working more purposively with his smith’s work and has since bought tools when he could afford to. Today, he is convinced it is possible to run a smithy in Trøllanes and perhaps it is even a privilege to be situated in such a remote place.
Picture5: The smithy is situated in beautiful surroundings, is well equipped and can be extended.
The old and the new smithy
There is room for an extension.
Establishing an Economusée in Kalsoy to represent the blacksmith’s craft in the Faroes is appropriate as Kalsoy was and still is famed for having had the cleverest blacksmiths. Today, machines have replaced the traditional craft and the know-how is disappearing. This makes it even more interesting and important to get serious and establish a blacksmith Economusée precisely in Trøllanes.
This summer, the first part of the building are finished. Next year, hopefully the extension are ready for the exhibition.