When I started forging and fabricating professionally, in 2006, the first person I worked for was a woman, Carla Hall (@chmetaldesign). I knew next to nothing, and she patiently tolerated my arrogance and mistakes as I struggled my way through. I was a mess in ways, but I worked hard and I learned. Her work demanded perfect finishes and transitions. Her designs were creative, combining organic shapes, a Japanese influence and Art Deco inspired geometry. She showed me perfect patience and trust, which I worked hard to try to deserve.
People sometimes comment about my being a woman in a typically man's field. I have worked with several talented, strong, independent female metal artists. I've worked with many supportive and lovely men as well. The blacksmith community on the west coast is truly a wonderfully wild place. Being a woman has never been a handicap for me; the tools don't know or care who wields them, only how.
I say this all this for women who might be in a place which is less open minded and free.
Even for myself, under the best of circumstances, it took me a long time to see myself as the master of my own world and trusting that I have everything my male counterparts have. Eventually, I realized we are all just blundering through the best we can! Now, I am free to win and lose battles on my own terms, and I wish that for you as well.