An Interview with local craftsman Mr. Dražen Jozeljić
26 April 2021
As part of our living history project, Mr Dražen Jozeljić talks to us about his craft.
For a start, tell us something about yourself?
My name is Dražen Jozeljić, I was born in 1983 in Oćevija where I still live today.
How long have you been in this business?
I have been in this business since I finished school, for 18 years.
How would you describe this craft?
Ironwork is not easy, but when you love what you do, and develop a passion for the job, it is easy to get used to it, and then the job is a pleasure.
Since when has this forge existed?
We are not entirely sure of the exact date this Maidan was founded but according to some local data, it is approximately 600 or 700 years old.
How many generations before you practiced this craft?
Also, unknown data because there have been numerous generations since then. The craft has been passed down from one generation to another. I know that all my ancestors worked in this field, it is hard to imagine how many generations that is.
Can you make a comparison of how it was before and how it is now in terms of your job?
Today, there are tools that make life easier and some machines that have taken over certain jobs, but we still working according to the old system with the help of water and fire. In the past, there was no electricity, so a water hammer was designed, and only later was an electric hammer inserted, but water is the main thing, it does everything.
How important is it for the community for your craft to survive?
Looking at the overall situation, it seems that the state is not interested in this craft surviving, but it would be a great pity for it to disappear. I would not like that, but since there are only three forges in operation now, there is a good chance that they may not survive. And it should be preserved and nurtured because this is our tradition.
Will the forge survive after you at all? Do you have someone to succeed you?
Currently, there is no one to succeed me, but I do hope it survives.
Where do most customers come from? What is most interesting for them to buy?
In my opinion, there isn't anywhere that one of our products has not gone. Lately, Peka-bake, a bell-shaped ceramic or iron dish for baking on an open hearth is our most popular item. In addition, we sell souvenirs, tools and utensils.
Are you familiar with the mining project in Rupice and Veovača?
I am familiar with most of it. I can say that many local people are in favour of the project and that they are very happy with the work you are doing.
In your opinion, will the opening of the mine have any impact on your business?
It remains to be seen, but I think it could have an impact, in event that you need tools, we can certainly make for you.
How do you see the future and life after the mine opens?
I sincerely hope that life in the municipality of Vares will be better, that progress will be made, and that the employment of all those who really need jobs will start.
Do you think that Vares will experience its resurgence in the future?
I would like to see Vares flourish and become the town that it once was. I think you will succeed in that .
Do you have a message for the end of our conversation?
I would tell all the people of Vares not to leave, to stay in our city because better times and opportunities will surely come.