A blacksmith is a craftsman who creates metal designs by hand- forging. Using various tools, and either beating, cutting, or fashioning the pliable non- liquid metal, stunning ornamental and practical items are produced. It is an ancient and charismatic craft, guaranteed to impress. But make no mistake, this is also a skill that is quickly learned and affordable for most. In a relatively short time, you could be turning out metal art to be proud of. If you enjoy working with your hands and can manage fire, you can explore this exciting craft.

Blacksmithing as a hobby has seen a surge of interest in recent years, as more people decide to re-discover this traditional art. There was a time when every community needed their blacksmith for all their metal needs, but the industrial revolution changed things, and blacksmithing, like so many of the old skills, has fallen to the hobbyists. There are,of course, still plenty of blacksmiths operating on a commercial basis. That's not to say that it's not a constantly evolving form of artistic expression. It lends itself freely to adaptation so that it can be an extremely useful talent to have.

The sort of things you might make range from large items such as gates, grilles, railings, furniture or light fixtures, to smaller projects like kitchen utensils, weapons, ornaments or religious icons. And there are so many more uses for your blacksmithing skills. Let your creativity run wild!

How to start blacksmithing!

There are certain hazards involved in the process, such as fire, tools and red-hot metals, so this is a hobby that is best begun under guidance. If you are still under 18 years of age, it is absolutely essential that you get adult supervision. The easiest ways are either through a class or course, which may be run privately or through your local council, or by finding a blacksmith in your area and learning on the job. You might find one by asking at craft stores or at craft fairs, or by checking in the local phone book or online.

You will usually be working with steel, although the old term wrought-iron or iron-work is still used. The language of blacksmithing is so old that there are often anomalies which persist, or several words all meaning the same thing. You can set up a simple home workshop in your backyard using basic, readily available equipment, which is open to improvisation, so that a metal drum and hairdryer are perfectly adequate for some purposes! Most blacksmiths use propane-fired forges, but coal-fired forges are more usual for the hobby blacksmith. As you develop your skills, you will probably want more space and equipment, but start small and see where it takes you.

For those who are already confirmed hobbyists, intereacting with other blacksmiths is a great way to get new inspiration and solve problems. There are bound to be clubs or courses in your area, or you can use the internet for research, or one of the many excellent books or magazines that cover this popular subject. Get out there and find out more, and if you have got something to share, bring it here so that we can make this a useful point of contact for all you inspired metalworkers. We look forward to hearing from you!

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