This is a one-day course in practical hands-on blacksmithing. The aim of the course is to forge some fire-side tools – in order to learn some blacksmiths techniques. For beginners the options are to make a leaf poker or shovel. Or you can choose to make a finial using various twists. Try out the pineapple-twist or the cube-twist. If you have already done some blacksmithing, you can also make a pair of blacksmiths tongs. This is a great exercise which involves hot punching and hot riveting. After completing this course you will be able to make more tongs at home, as well as know how to fix an old pair of blacksmiths tongs.
Arrival is at 10am, where Gunvor the tutor will introduce the forge. The participant’s individual work spaces as well as health & safety is covered. The correct use of the coke hearths involves how to maintain the fire. How to achieve the correct heat in the right place. The minimum and maximum heat ranges and their corresponding colors. To give you some insight into the working day of a full-time blacksmith Gunvor will usually fill you in as to what’s currently on at the forge. If you are interested in full-time education in the craft, you will get a chance to ask the tutor about this.
After the introduction it time to get hands on. The approach is simple. Demos mixed with as much time at the anvil as possible. To get a feel for this craft you have to just give it a go, so Gunvor likes to give the participants a chance to make their own decisions, make a few mistakes etc. There is always more than one way to achieve the same thing. Although there is supposed to be just seven basic techniques of the blacksmith, it is very much a craft that relies on a person’s intuition and common sense. So the variation and combination of techniques is endless, which is why this craft keeps being fun. Knowledge is important – but anvil time is what you need the most. Keep practicing!
Beware you might get hooked!
If you have already done this course, consider signing up for blade smithing or axe making. You can also become a member of the Irish Artist Blacksmith Association and participate in forge-ins. It’s a great way to meet like minded people and pick up some new skills.