We went to a blacksmithing workshop today and bashed metal with hammers between heating it up in a forge. It took a few hours to learn how to make a coil of metal as a keyring and a letter opener.
Our tutor was Charis Jones, who runs Sculpted Steel at the Forge at Etruria Industrial museum. She patiently talked us through the many steps to turn both a bar and a strip of mild steel into the objects we chose to make. Other choices included a snail and a poker.
I don’t have the grip I used to have and trying to hold a piece of metal in a pair of tongs was very difficult. I dropped my work on the floor a few times, and you can’t just bend over and pick up red hot metal, you have to be very careful. Luckily no one got burned despite handling white hit metal.
The hardest thing is being able to hammer properly, my wrists felt weak and my arms were aching. (They still are).
You can see our efforts and what we were trying to do in the photos. They are next to the examples of how they should look. I overheated my letter opener blade and the tip broke off. Luckily Charis sorted it out (which is why it’s shorter than my hubbies work). He seemed to take to it naturally and it helped calm him down. Very good for concentration and ‘flow’.
I think having an experience like this gives you an insight into how difficult the craft of blacksmithing is. What you realise is that it may look simple, but it isn’t!