Vienna, Austria 1990. The Alte Schmiede built in the basement of a 15th century building in 1880 was the shop of the late Otto Schmirler. The workshop has been made into a museum dedicated to the work of artist-blacksmiths and is about a 10 minute walk from St. Steven's Cathedral, at #9 Schönlantergasse street.
This 100 year old business made gates and railings, locks, window grills, and other fancy ornamental ironwork. The photo at top left is the view from the glassed in, foyer off the street entrance, looking into the shop. Not visible is the double forge immediately to the left of the photographer when taking this picture. The work in this shop required the blacksmiths to be able to handle every variety and size of iron bar in the fire. The forges were used to work everything from large gate frames to small animal heads and flowers.
The photo at top right is a closer view of the same forge at the rear of the shop. The forges are made from angle iron and steel plate. Water and coal troughs are hung in the front of the forges for convenience and an abundance of tool racks nearby keep the work area neat and unobstructed. Anvils are located well away from the forges so there is plenty of room to work large irregularly shaped iron bars. The electric blower which supplies this forge with air is at the upper left corner of the photo. The blower runs continuously so an air dam is used to control or block the flow of blast air. The air dam is visible in the photo at bottom left. No divider is set up between forge hearths to block a cross draft.
To the middle right is a picture of the forge located at one side of the shop. Note the sheet iron divider between the forge. This helps block a cross draft which would otherwise blow smoke out one side of the hood when a draft is blowing through the shop. A divider makes working handling and heating long bars difficult. Note placement of water and coal troughs on front of forge, and clear work area around forge and anvil. The anvil is set up somewhat distant from the forge. A mechanical tilt hammer of about 100 lbs. was located in the middle of the shop between the forging areas.
Two close up views (bottom photos) of firepot and appliances. The picture on the bottom left is the view underneath the forge showing the air dam, air supply piping, and ash dump gate. At bottom right is the side view showing the relative depth of fire used as well as half bowl shaped fire banking blocks made of cast iron. These blocks serve the same purpose of building up the depth of the fire, as fire brick does in our own forges. There are no raised edges or sides running around the perimeter of this forge so no cinder bed is present to build depth to the fire with coke or coal ash. The smith must rake the coals back towards the fire as they are shaken out of or pushed away from the fire during normal work. These half round appliances help keep the coke contained near the fire.
Angle iron frames riveted and welded together. Steel plate lines the hearth, it is roughly 1/4th inch thick. Hoods are angle iron and sheet iron construction. Simple and inexpensive.
Otto Schmirler is the author of 4 excellent books showing the hundreds of examples of his work produced in this shop and other shops where he learned the trade early this century.
For more on visitor hours and info go here: http://www.alte-schmiede.at/museum.htm
KUNSTVEREIN WIEN - ALTE SCHMIEDE
Visiting hours Mon-Fri 10 A.M. - 3 P.M. Tel. 512 83 29
Readers who have knowledge or documentation on this shop are invited to mail the author at the email address below.
Does anyone out there know the web site for this shop? Family members have a modern business office on the second floor above the shop and very likely have their own web site. I think they ran an architectural consulting business but am no longer sure of this.
The author can be emailed at address in picture below:
Last update February 8th, 2001.