Shai Vaknin is a tall, sturdy looking man with fingers of steel. Standing inside his blacksmith’s workshop he awaits those who come to see his artworks. In the meantime, he also makes a living constructing frames, but his heart… his heart is yearning for real Smithery; the kind that takes the rigidity out of iron, making it as soft as butter.
In one of the corners of Kibbutz Shomrat, north of Acre, Shai creates his remarkable works. Inside a room that serves both as an office and as a mini display room, Shai’s sculptures stand waiting for visitors to admire, maybe even purchase.
Here one can see innocent looking hedgehogs whose needles are pointy iron pins, next to a flock of sheep facing some dogs, all iron sculptures. On the shelves one can also find metal boxes in various sizes, useful kitchenware, razor sharp axes and cast kitchen utensils. Standing on the floor are a few massive tables and cabinets combining natural wood and iron.
“I always liked iron” confesses warm-eyed, radiant personality Shai. I experimented in iron even as a boy, however, one meeting with a person who suggested that I ‘go to Kibbutz Ein-Shemer and look for a blacksmith named Uri’ – changed my life. I went there to learn Smithery from him, and then I quit the jobs I was working and turned to the one thing I love doing”.
Shai always makes time for his visitors. He enthusiastically shows them his sculptures, gives them acquaintance workshops and lets them try working with iron for themselves. Just a moment, wouldn’t you like to know how nails were once made?!