After day one of the two-day blacksmithing course, Courtney and I feared we were too bougy for blacksmithing. We had both expected to be naturals and for it to be pretty easy – why we thought pounding hot metal to form into objects would be easy, I have no idea – and we quickly learned that it was not. By the end of the day, our hands were blistered, forearms were sore, and we were covered from head to toe in black ash (we’re both sporting some pretty great mustaches in these pictures 🙂 ).
To back up a bit, several months ago Courtney found a Groupon for a weekend blacksmithing class in Floyd, VA. A random art activity that involved a road trip had our names ALL over it. Saturday morning, we were up bright and early to drive to Floyd, which turned out to be an adorable small hippie mountain town. After we checked in at the Jacksonville Center for the Arts and were introduced to our fellow blacksmiths (all middle aged men, fyi), we were set loose to make a hook. Way harder than you might think. The instructors quickly became my new best friends because I needed A LOT of guidance slash they fixed everything I messed up and made my projects look nice.
We learned a lot about blacksmithing during the class. For example, I had no idea that the slaves on Thomas Jefferson’s plantation could produce up to 10,000 nails each day, at a rate of one nail per minute! It easily took me 30 minutes to make one nail; I would have been a nail-making failure back in the day. We learned how to use every portion of the anvil to make curves, sharp points, right angles, you name it. Who knew anvils had a practical purpose, besides dropping them on cartoon characters heads that is.
That night, after super long showers to wash off all the grime, we explored Floyd and all it had to offer. Which turns out is not that much besides a few restaurants and health food store. The grandma in me had no problem going to bed at 9:30 because there was nothing else to do 🙂 Here’s what we saw of the nightlife:
Sunday morning, after a good night’s rest and a delicious country breakfast, we were back at the blacksmithing. Miraculously, we were much better! We learned to make fire rakes, fire pokers, and nails, and everything we made turned out really well (the fire poker is my favorite of all).
I would love to try blacksmithing again. It ended up being very satisfying work and a lot of fun, and off all the adventures Courtney and I have had, this was one of the best.
We look pretty happy despite being covered in grime, right? Check out more pictures of the group here – scroll to the very bottom of the page to see my group.