Owner/founder - Backcountry Blacksmith Inc.
A little About the inspiration...
Born in the Rocky Mountains and raised in the backcountry of Alaska, Alexandra Paliwoda expresses her love of the great outdoors with her hand-forged ironwork. True to its name, the Backcountry Blacksmith was forged in the remote wilds of the Wrangell-St. Elias, Alaska. Having lived in such a remote and rugged locale, steel was to her the most similar medium to the ruggedness, yet forgiving nature of that beautiful hinterland.
Alexandra began working with steel 19 years ago when she was certified as a farrier by Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana, forging horseshoes for various horseshoeing applications. “I just remember falling in love with the smell of hot iron and melting beeswax in the morning at farrier school”, she says, laughing. And she always kept that fire stoked, professionally as a farrier and by forging steel as a hobby, until it became her full time career years later.
Alexandra lived in Alaska for a total of 20 years, growing up in Haines, on the coast, then moving to the deep interior. She worked in agriculture, tourism, as a farrier, ran a bakery, studied glaciology and natural sciences at the University off Alaska Fairbanks, lived a subsistence lifestyle, built her own cabin, hunted moose and caribou, cut and chopped many a cord of firewood, climbed, hiked, kayaked, canoed and explored as much as possible that beautiful north-country.
Curiosity and dreams of warmer weather led to her to occasionally travel overseas during the colder months of the year. Thus far her travels have taken her 900 miles up and back down the Amazon River, to the South Pacific, New Zealand, Australia, Southeast Asia, Nepal a couple times, from Fairbanks, Alaska to Patagonia, Chile, and then, moving out of Alaska! “What is quite hilarious is that I said I would NEVER move “Outside”, to the lower 48! And I remember stating specifically that I would not live Idaho. Well, Driggs, Idaho has been my home for almost 7 years, and I absolutely love it here!”
Before settling in Idaho, Alexandra worked with two blacksmiths in Colorado, learning the tools of the trade. “I really wanted to make beautiful art from steel but needed guidance! I lived up in the mountains at my grandfathers cabin, which was a long, steep hike to get to in the winter. I had my forge, anvil, one hammer and one set of tongs. I hammered out piles of twisted, marred steel until I finally made something that actually resembled a leaf!” Now at home in Driggs, her shop is quite a bit more extensive, and she feels very lucky to love what she does. “I believe that quality of life is paramount, so really, I can’t complain!”