In mid-September 2018, I went from blacksmithing practitioner to blacksmithing teacher (albeit in a very modest fashion). I taught my first absolute beginner blacksmithing course, “Forge Your Own Bottle Opener”, at The Steel Yard in Providence, RI.
For those who don’t know, The Steel Yard is a brilliant maker space and industrial arts education center where they teach blacksmithing, welding, jewelry making, and ceramics. They are also in the process of expanding their offerings via their “Super Studio” capital campaign.
The Steel Yard is also the place where I first took a weekend “Introduction to Blacksmithing” course in 2014 (taught by April Franklin) and caught the blacksmithing bug. So, the fact that I’ve come full circle and transitioned from student to teacher all within the same facility is pretty nifty (and says a lot about The Steel Yard’s programming, staff, and resident artists).
This isn’t to say that I wasn’t incredibly anxious about my first time teaching people who had never put a hammer to hot metal before. In three hours, I had to cover all the basics of forging metal, running forges (gas and coal), and all of the safety issues. Honestly, it’s a lot and then there’s also the fact that some learners progress faster or slower than others.
Fortunately, The Steel Yard supplied me with five capable students who were all eager and attentive. Though there were some struggles (punching a hole seemed to be universally challenging…), everyone went home with a fully-functional, hand-forged bottle opener.
I’d like to thank my first students for being the test cases for a shiny new blacksmithing teacher. Though everything went great, I did take notes on things that I’ll do differently in future classes this season. If you’re curious about classes at The Steel Yard, then click here.
Unfortunately, my remaining classes this season are full. But I’ll definitely be teaching again next season.