Stupid and crazy

Metal home accessories come from a forge in Culten. The Saxons deliver to the whole of Europe. But there is a problem.
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Ein Mann und eine Frau schauen auf schmiedeiserne Arbeiten.
Blacksmithing has been part of the Ludwig family since 164o. They have long been known for their work beyond Germany's borders. Photo: PR

From Peter Ufer

Culten. Here, curtain rails are called Mabon, Odin, Nuada or Freya. Each piece carries a little mythology. It is a reference to the Nordic world of the gods. Metals have always been associated with legendary magic. This is also the case in the village of Culten, an old Slavic settlement in the upper Pleissen valley between the towns of Crimmitschau in the north and Werdau located in the south, today a district of Neukirchen.
Here in the last corner of Saxony, just before Thuringia, the Forge of the poles. Loki, the god of fire, was also indispensable to people in the past and gives his name to a pole with knots at its ends. The divine connection lives on in the manufactory to this day. Werner Ludwig is the 12th generation to work as a blacksmith. "We've always been crazy and crazy," says the craftsman and laughs. There is evidence of this craft in his family since 1640. He was born into this same family of blacksmiths in 1952 and was later lucky enough to meet a woman who shared his passion. She lived on his parents' farm in the very same Culten, house number 32, and it was there, in this historic location, that they set up their workshop together in 1980. They have been a well-rehearsed couple ever since.

Handmade products are in demand
Her two children grew up between forge fires and welding seams, sometimes bruising or burning their fingers. The son studied steel construction and today passes on his knowledge of this subject to students as a professor. Daughter Kathrin went to Halle to study at the Giebichenstein Castle and trained as an interior designer. Nevertheless, she stuck with it in both senses of the word. More by chance than anything else, she discovered a great demand among customers for handmade objects for the home and built her business on this.
Kathrin Ludwig has been living in Leipzig. She designs curtain rails in her studio. There are many different models. "Simple design, classic materials, craftsmanship and attention to detail are our basis," says the designer. She also likes combinations of metal and wood, but is constantly expanding her range. She discusses all details such as lengths and shapes with customers, designs and constructs special solutions, accepts orders and invoices them. Kathrin Ludwig says with pride: "Buyers from all over Europe now enjoy the handcrafted work, we deliver from Saxony to France and Spain, especially Mallorca, and have many loyal existing customers."
She passes the orders on to her parents' forge in Culten. The Ludwigs obtain the raw material for the bars from steel wholesalers. First, the rolled blue layer is removed from the material. The bars are then given the desired design, including curves, knots and points, in the forge. Werner Ludwig is in his element. The finished workpiece is brushed bright, burnished and dried. Fine sandpaper and steel wool are then used to emphasize the forged structures. Finally, a coat of hard wax oil is applied. The iron is given a classic black that reveals its origins.

Known beyond Germany
All the accessories, screws, rings, wall brackets, tie-backs and hooks all match in color. If you want a handrail, a table, a coat hanger, a shoehorn, an angel or a candlestick made from the same material, Cult.Schmiede will make it for you. Hundreds of orders land in the workshop every year. An order can be one bar or 30 pieces, depending on the customer's wishes. And nothing leaves the workshop that has not been thoroughly checked. Each individual part is carefully packed. The steel products are prepared for their journey to the customer. Hotels have also ordered products from the Cult. forge. The bars are appreciated by Germans, but also by the Swiss, Austrians, Dutch and Belgians. The cult metal obviously has great appeal.
It could go on like this, but although the 72-year-old father is still fit, he is looking for a "cult-like" successor. "Unfortunately, it's not that easy. Like so many others, we have a staffing problem," says Kathrin Ludwig. It would be unfortunate if the forge did not pass into the hands of a 13th generation. Or is the number 13 a bad omen from Norse mythology?

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