Tonight was my first blacksmithing class at The Crucible. 3 hours a night for five weeks. I'm so glad I opted for the 5 week course rather than the intensive weekend course (8 hours for two days each). I can hardly lift my hammering arm! I'm so out of shape. I have a date with the gym for the rest of this week, I can tell.
Class was fun. Four people and the instructor. Me, Ted (late 20s techie), Molly (20, maybe?), Chris (30s, came dressed for an evening in the shop), and the instructor Chris (30s with a long narrow braided pony tail). We started with orientation and practice using the tongs to pick up pieces of 800F steel (practice involved the ambient 85F steel, of course). Then came demonstration of tonight's project: a decorative hook. Chris shows us the five steps, he easily hammers the steel into the shape he wants, and the end product is beautiful. "Have at it!" This isn't your high school shop class (or maybe it is) -- after the demo, we're left to do our things. Which we did for about 2 hours.
Hammering is hard! I rather like hammering, actually, but smithing is surprisingly difficult. Heavier hammer (3-5 lbs, not a 20oz framing hammer) and the frustration that you can't make anything remotely as nice as what the instructor made. I felt like I was back in grade school art class.
After much hammering, bending, twisting, and defeating of the urge to give up I finally produced my hook. It's lop-sided and still is rough from the forge but it's, well, an artifact. It symbolizes ... I really have no idea. It's just a hook, but if armageddon were to fall tonight I know how to make dozens more just like it. I'm sure that skill will be useful in the New World Order.
I want to take glass flameworking next, though. I got to tour the Crucible and the glasswork looked pretty neat. A lot like smithing, actually, except not so many 5 lbs hammers.