At the request of his colleagues last year, local blacksmith Jason Lowe decided to apply to participate in the show “Forged in Fire”.
He didn’t think he would ever hear from him.
He was wrong.
About a month later, he received a phone call from an out-of-state phone number, thinking it was a telemarketer. He ended up being one of the show’s casting agents, who asked him to do a virtual interview the next week.
Shortly after, he learned he was going to be on the show where blacksmiths compete in a three-round elimination contest to forge knives and swords and win $10,000.
“It was surreal because when you watch the show and stuff, you’re like, ‘Oh wow, I’m really gonna be on the show,'” Lowe said.
An Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and Rescue Specialist with Washington County/Johnson City EMS by day, Lowe began forging blades about a decade ago – building on his lifelong interest in knives and swords. Lowe learned about blacksmithing from a friend who created things like locks and hinges, and decided it had piqued his interest enough to build his own forge at home.
“I built my first knife, and it turned out really good for my first knife,” Lowe said. “Then it all went from there: studying, learning, studying different techniques, visiting different blacksmiths who are friends, and now (we are) 10 years later almost.”
Lowe is the second Jonesborough blacksmith to appear on the show this year, following his friend Brandon Franklin, who appeared on the program in January.
Lowe said he actually filmed his episode before Franklin, but Franklin’s episode aired six months before his. Lowe said he filmed his episode about a year ago, but couldn’t speak to anyone about his upcoming appearance until last week. It’s made for some interesting conversations for Lowe over the past year, who has had to respond carefully when people tell him he should try out for the show.
“Everybody would buy my work and the first thing they’d say is, ‘Man, you should try ‘Forged in Fire,'” Lowe said. “I would just have to say, ‘Yeah, maybe one day. “”
Lowe said being on the show gave him a different perspective on competition, as he learned first-hand that it’s much easier to make mistakes in the heat of battle. At the end of the day, Lowe said, he was exhausted and ready to go home.
“Before I went on the show, I was like, ‘Why didn’t he weld this first?’ Then when I got on the show, oh, I found out,” Lowe said. “I did. I made a mistake on that which you will see on Wednesday. I was like ‘What? I can’t believe I didn’t do this.
And while on the show, Lowe said watching it for the first time would be a new experience because he didn’t know what the judges were saying or thinking or what the other blacksmiths were doing during the competition.
“It kind of feels like you didn’t participate in it,” Lowe said. “I know that sounds stupid, but it is.”
Lowe’s episode airs Wednesday, June 8 at 9 p.m. on the History Channel. If you would like to see Lowe’s work, you can find it on his website, tavernhillblades.com or on Instagram, @tavern_hill_blades.
“I don’t care about a knife sitting on a shelf, I just want to build a workhorse knife that everyone can use in different situations to, you know, stand the test of time,” Lowe said.