Blacksmith's Studio "Auseklis" of Open-air Ethnographic Museum of Latvia was founded in 1973. Since 1995 the Studio has been managed by the Latvian Chamber of Craft master blacksmith and national master craftsman Vilnis Vincēvičs.
The average age of the current Studio members is early twenties. Permanently participating in the Studio's work are students and graduates of the National Academy of Fine Arts, J. Rozentāls Art School, Department of History of University of Latvia, Riga Vocational School of Crafts. The Studio has also attracted a vivid interest from a number of artist blacksmiths and craftsmen from countries like Estonia, Finland, Norway and the UK. Over the recent years the Studio has trained seven national master craftsmen, four of whom graduated cum laude.
The activity of the Studio is based on striving to preserve and develop national craftsmanship traditions of blacksmithing. Our ethnographic wrought iron works have been exhibited at a number of national blacksmithing and crafts exhibitions. Members of "Auseklis" Studio have been among award winners for traditional forging in all three Ernests Brastiņš Memorial National Craft Competitions.
Blacksmiths of the Studio have participated in restoration and renovation of several cultural heritage objects. This includes restoration or reproduction of lanterns for the Castle of Ventspils, railing and lanterns for bridges of the Riga Channel, fittings for window-shutters of Mencendorfs mansion (Riga) Ramava manor, as well as window finishes for Durbe Castle and Kukši manor. Our donations include a weather vane for Aspazija Museum, finishes for wooden architecture at Jurmala city and Ungurmuiža Chapel, gates for the Museum of Photography. We have also restored forging for Jāņa Sēta un Konventa Sēta buildings, "Three Brothers" ensemble and Embassy of the USA. Items restored by us also feature in the restored Kurzeme farmstead at the Open-air Ethnographic Museum, Churches of Biķeri, Saulkrasti, Labraka un New Gertrude (Riga) as well as the gates of Nūrmuiža manor.
Works of the Studio members are displayed at the Open-air Ethnographic Museum exhibition hall and museum depositories, as well as the Studio forge at Mersrags. Ethnographic wrought iron works produced by our blacksmiths include hinges, handles, ancient locks, candlesticks, splinter holders and lanterns. We also forge nails, knockers, weather vanes and other items, which are successfully integrated in the design of log buildings and restoration of architectural objects. As to the objects of interior, the Studio offers fittings for stoves and fireplaces, chandeliers, candlesticks, coat hangers and other hammered works. The latest works of Studio blacksmiths are connected with building facades and architecture of gardens and parks.
A distinct branch of our creative activity is participation in various folklore festivals, ethnographic open-air events and town festivals. During those events the Studio masters demonstrate their craftsmanship and forging of miscellaneous items according to the ancient technologies. A special interest is usually generated by forging of archaeological items, ancient weaponry and historic coins.