Give it a go: Blacksmithing

Alastair McCloskey's picture
Apprentice Paul Oldham,34, is getting all his training on the job.

Blacksmithing may be thousands of years old but the craft seems to be back in fashion with more people wanting to give it a go than ever before, according to artist-blacksmith Sam Sherborne.

Sam, whose forge is based at Vulcan Studios on Sussex Street in Sheffield, said: "Who can say why things become fashionable? I don’t think it will ever go out of fashion again. It might be just an atavistic thing where people want to bash metal or they think want to bash metal and so give it a try for a weekend."

This month, as part of the Galvanize festival of contemporary metalwork, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with this ancient craft. On May 11 and 12 Festival Forge In returns for its second year at the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet.

Skilled blacksmiths from the British Artist Blacksmiths Association (BABA) will be in attendance and families are invited to get involved at the family forge to witness this skilled craft up close. 

Elsewhere in the Galvanize programme, Andrew Renwick from Ridgeway Forge is offering people the chance to become a little mester for the day by forging their own rustic stainless steel knife and fork. Participants will then get the chance to use the cutlery to tuck into a tasty pie and pea lunch.

If those events pique your interest, many blacksmiths also run short courses to teach the basic techniques of the skill and provide workshop experience. Sam, who has been a blacksmith for the last 25 years, has previously run day-long courses at Vulcan Studios and plans to start running them again in the near future.

The work of the modern blacksmith is varied with many specialising in niche areas such as making bespoke handrails to manufacturing parts for steam engines. Sam’s work has included garden gates and bridges to sculptures in schools.

He explains how he got started as a blacksmith and why he thinks people are still attracted to this ancient craft:

If you want to find out more about the various routes available to aspiring blacksmiths then visit: http://www.baba.org.uk/Training

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