Modern blacksmiths are artisans who create both decorative art as well as functional designs. Some produce wrought iron furniture, fences, railings and weather vanes. Others forge tools for use in industrial settings. Today's horseshoes are usually made in factory forges, although there a few blacksmiths who still forge them the old-fashioned way, with hammer and anvil.
Types of Specific Coursework and Schools
If you seek formal training to be a blacksmith, among the schools that teach skills used in the trade is the Turley Forge Blacksmithing School in New Mexico, which instructs students in scrollwork and toolsmithing using various types of hardware. Other programs include course offerings through the New England School of Metalwork and the Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing, the latter offering a one-year certification in metalwork.
Blacksmith apprenticeships offer a chance to work under the tutelage of experienced shop owners. Rather than working with just one blacksmith, apprentices often work with several. In most cases, you must have blacksmithing experience when you apply for your apprenticeship. Expect little in the way of traditional handsmithing, as modern machinery prevails in the industry. Don't expect guarantees of future employment, either. To improve your job prospects, familiarize yourself with Blacksmithing Standards developed by the Appalachian Blacksmiths Association. These standards are registered by the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. They spell out the skills needed to be hired as a journeyman.
- The Artist-Blacksmith's Association of North America: About ABANA
- The Art Career Project: Create Metal Masterpieces with a Blacksmithing Career
- Turley Forge Blacksmithing School: Overview
- New England School of Metalwork: Current Course Offerings
- Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing: Certificate Program in Blacksmithing
- The Artist-Blacksmith's Association of North America: Journeyman Program
- Photo Credit Volodymyr Kaushan/Hemera/Getty Images
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