We have a natural human desire to discover our heritage and celebrate the ways our ancestors survived and thrived. At the Folk School, we offer many Blacksmithing classes offering a window to that past. From the Civil War, to Ancient Scotland, to Medieval times, to Colonial America – many of us are drawn to certain eras and cultures. Come to the forge and celebrate techniques, styles, and aesthetics from days gone by. Check out this list of classes that may interest the old soul smith in you:
Arts and Crafts Ironwork
Paul Garrett • February 22–27 (A Salute to the Arts & Crafts Movement Week)
Expand your skills as a blacksmith while immersing in the timeless elegance of the Arts and Crafts style. Explore traditional and modern techniques of forging, joining, and finishing metals to create strong, simple, and functional designs based on those of Greene & Greene, Stickley, Roycroft, and others. Gain professional shop knowledge, resources, and some toolmaking skills in this intermediate to advanced class. Basic blacksmithing skills required.
Elmer Roush • March 22-28 (Scandinavian Heritage Week)
Do you enjoy blacksmithing with a historical perspective? This class will focus on reproducing 10th-century Viking relics, including spearheads, axes, arrowheads, and locks. Drawings and tracings of original pieces will be available as guides. Knowledge of how to build and maintain a forge fire and basic blacksmithing skills are needed. Scandinavian Heritage Week honors the Folk School’s roots, inspired by “folkehøjskole” of these northern European countries. In the company of newfound friends, you will enjoy special food, music, dance, and craft traditional to the region.
The American Hand-forged Knife
Jim Batson & Chuck Patrick • April 19-25 (Earth Week)
Early American knife designs will be the focus as students with well-developed forging skills make blades of carbon steel, which will then be hand-finished and heat-treated. Haft with crown stag, bone, or hardwood and make knife fittings of iron, German silver, or silver. Early American folders will also be covered. Each student should finish at least one knife in this intermediate to advanced class.
Medieval Treasure Chest
Clay Spencer • May 22-30 (Weekend+Week)
Build a small copper chest similar to ones used by nobility and clergy in the Gothic period to carry their jewels and gold. The box, lid, hinges, and handle are formed and joined by rivets; the lock and key are steel; and the key may have decoration to match other features. Panels with chased, pierced, repousséd, or engraved designs may be added depending on time available. For advanced metalworkers – inquire with the instructor if you have questions.
Blacksmithing for Reenactors
Jason Lonon & John Scroggin • June 14-20
Are you a reenactor fascinated by historic blacksmithing and interested in making period camp gear? Join us for a week of history, hard work, and fun as we explore blacksmithing traditions and make a wide variety of hardware, tools, campfire utensils, and more from the Middle Ages through the American Civil War. We’ll also cover the art of demonstrating historic blacksmithing for the public; bring your period clothing for demo night. Beginning to advanced smiths are welcome.
Colonial and Early American Lighting
Jerry Darnell • June 28-July 4
Experienced blacksmiths with interest in Colonial work and pieces that shed light on another era – join us. In this fast-paced class, we’ll focus on Colonial lighting by forging a different project each day: corner standard sconced peermans, tall rush lights with unique bases, pipejoint table rush lights, small chained chandeliers, and other fixtures. Students must be able to manage a forge fire and have intermediate forging skills.
Tomahawks & Axes
Ryan Johnson • July 31-August 2 (Weekend)
Learn how to forge a traditional trade axe or belt axe. Students will focus on one design (possibly more if time permits), forged and finished using both traditional and contemporary techniques. We’ll also discuss tomahawk history. Basic blacksmithing experience is required for this intermediate-level class; students are requested to contact the instructor prior to class to discuss their project.
David Burress & Caleb Burress • August 30-September 5
Gain insight into the role the Celts played in the spread of ironworking technology in ancient Scotland. Join us as we recreate their beautiful and functional items of everyday use, along with the knives and weaponry that this warrior race used to defy an empire. A basic knowledge of blacksmithing techniques is recommended.
19th-century Blacksmithing, Shaker Style
Michael Saari • November 8-14
Improve your hammer skills while making items similar to known Shaker ironwork. Our Shaker projects this week will be a door latch and a fireplace/stove tool set. We’ll focus primarily on hand techniques, but will also work with the power hammer using spring dies. Beauty and function as combined in Shaker work will be discussed and supplemented with slides and samples. Students are expected to have fire skills and experience in smithing fundamentals.
Cory Marie Podielski is a freelance graphic designer, photographer, and writer for the John C. Campbell Folk School. She has been writing for the Folk School Blog since 2012 and enjoys interviewing artists, musicians, and craftspeople. In her spare time, she enjoys playing the banjo, dancing, printmaking, playing in clay, and assisting in Folk School bread baking classes. podielski.com