When Nicolas Wicks walked into a blacksmith’s shop in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2011, he didn’t know the visit would shape the rest of his life. As an American college student majoring in ecological economics, Wicks was spending his time in classrooms and on computers, and wanted to work with his hands.
He became an unpaid apprentice for the blacksmith, learned the craft, and came home to make another discovery—his grandfather’s welding tools were waiting for him.
On his mother’s side, Wicks’ grandfather and great-grandfather were metal workers. His great-grandfather, William Wicks, owned a welding shop in Queens, New York: He created pylons for the World’s Fair and, during World War II, taught welding to shipyard workers to support the effort.