Wes Alberson was shocked when he received a direct message on Instagram from Leftfield Pictures, a reality television production company.
Alberson, an Associate in Science student at Durham Tech, has been developing his bladesmithing craft since 2015 – but he didn’t expect to end up on a nationally televised History Channel program for it.
In January 2017, a representative from the production company saw Alberson’s Instagram account for his small business, Rougemont Forge, which Alberson uses to sell bladesmithing products at local fairs. The representatives asked if had interest in competing on the fourth season of The History Channel’s Forged in Fire.
“It was surreal,” said Alberson, 21. “It was just one of those things you can’t pass up.”
The series features world-class bladesmiths competing to create history’s most iconic edged weapons through forging, the process of using extreme heat to shape metal.
An online questionnaire and two Skype interviews later, Alberson and his mentor, Robert Timberlake, were on their way to film the show in New York City in March of last year.
Four teams of two had three hours per round to create a meat cleaver that needed to pass a series of tests for strength and sharpness and get the stamp of approval from three judges. The winning team would receive $10,000 and Forged in Fire’s Master and Apprentice Title. The episode aired July 11, 2017.
Alberson and Timberlake were cut in the second round of the competition, but say the takeaway was significant.
“In hindsight, I would’ve done a few things differently, but it was a great learning experience,” Alberson said. “When it first aired, I was worried that people would think poorly of me as a bladesmith because we didn’t do very well, but that ended up not being true. I attend the North Carolina State Fair every year and I’m still selling my knives and teaching people about bladesmithing so no one has held anything against me.”
After he graduates from Durham Tech in May, Alberson said he plans to earn his Bachelors in Business Administration to grow his small business from either North Carolina Central University or the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
View the full episode on history.com or click here.