Updated: Feb 4
This is really something that I enjoy teaching. It gives me great satisfaction to see people come with no knowledge of the craft and then be able to leave with the skills to continue when they return home. In the three or so years I have been doing these weekends, I can only remember a couple of folks who have ever had any experience with blacksmithing. I also think people get so much more than just the ability to do a new craft.
I did a short video of the schedule of the weekend here. And I don’t think in any way that it encompasses in total what happens. My goal for the weekend is for people to learn some basics of the craft. And then be comfortable with what they have learned to go home and be able to set up a ‘smithy’ of their very own. At present I teach about two different styles of forges. A hole in the ground forge and a stand up drum forge. It thrills me to hear, in the months after, of people forging at home.
It used to surprise me that there are some who have never really started a fire, or really worked with it. A forge fire is a different type of fire. It is not like your backyard fire. It has a different life to it. Since our forge fuel is wood, it is an art into itself. We are basically creating charcoal on demand. It seems simple, and yet it is not. This is kinda important. Without a good fire, it is a real challenge to work with metal! It is something that really has to be experienced. You really have to feel it.
In order to get wood for the forge fire, well, it has to be split. I have it down to a manageable size. Not small enough for the fires, though. Being raised in southern Appalachia, using an axe to split firewood, was just something everyone did. These are much smaller pieces to begin with than that wood was. So, yes, there have been some who have never wielded an axe before. Again, no longer surprising to me.
Then we get to move metal! To take it from one shape and make it another. It is very elemental. We have the earthen forge, air from the bellows, water in the quench tank, and of course fire. You also have your very own spirit that is being used. In some parts, metal is an element as well.
I keep classes small on purpose. At the time of this writing, I limit it to six. I want to spend time with each person so they can absorb all the lessons. There is a LOT going on. And being able to offer tips as we go along is important. I don’t want this to be just an experience. I want to help continue the craft. Help people understand it doesn’t take a bunch of fancy tools and equipment to enjoy this craft. After all, not much has changed in blacksmithing in a few centuries. You still have to get it hot and then hit it hard.
I wrote before about having females in the workshops. There seem to be people from all walks of life that attend. Most of that stuff matters little to me during the weekend. We are learning blacksmithing. That is where all the focus is. That and food. My beloved is an exceptional hostess. She makes sure we are all well fed. Everyone works really hard, and she thinks we should eat equally hard. If it was left to me, folks would be eating sandwiches and such! She whips up home cookin for breakfasts and suppers.
I think to boil it all down, people learn how fantastic it is to be empowered. To work within themselves and stretch to gain new skills. That sometimes the ‘simple’ things are hard. That a good foundation is really important. That one’s limit can be one's imagination. Embracing the suck. It’s ok to think backwards. There are many ways to get the same result. They can do so much more than they think they can. Owning the work. Enjoying the process. You can start again. We also learn a little blacksmithing along the way.
If you have attended a weekend, would you agree? Did I leave anything out?
To learn more about this incredible weekend workshop and to schedule your adventure, simply click here!