I've had the honor of hanging out watching a forging session (but no where near as involved as Peter was). Man, it is intense. I was standing close by and it wasn't until it was over that I realized I had multiple burn holes in my shirt and a few burns on my face. The smith later slapped me on the back saying I was a smith at heart the way I was standing in close without concern of the heat and sparks. He said I had that look in my eyes. Yeah, firebug I guess. It was truly fascinating. And I'm pretty sure I don't want to be the one swinging those hammers. One of these days I'm going to finish building my own forge here at home...
Keith, if you ever get so excited that you want to really jump in and do it, Kawahara Sensei has told me he would be happy to have someone who commissioned a sword come out and help him make it. I've done that with another dear friend who is a smith, and it is a blast. Figuratively and literally. You're right, that forge throws off an incredible amount of heat, and you don't want to wear anything that can't afford a few holes. Cover your head too, because getting any of those sparks in your hair is unpleasant