Aug 26, 2009

Blacksmithing in the San Francisco Bay Area

For the last 5 weeks, ending yesterday, Cristin and I have been making a once-a-week journey to Oakland to take a introductory blacksmithing class at the Crucible. The Crucible ( is a non-profit in Oakland which serves as a avenue for the industrial arts in the community. They tend to focus on alot of arts related to fire, hence the name.

The class teaches you several basic blacksmithing techniques as you create 4 projects over 5 weeks. You create a hook, which is looks like an enormous fishing hook, but designed to hang on a wall. You create a knife, or a shiv out of rebar. You create a spoon - the two week project. Finally you create a 2-pronged fork. And most people create two of each - one piece heating up in the forge while the other piece is being worked on. Here is a photo of some of the steps in the various projects:

There are a few other photos up on picasaweb of Cristin and I here: Blacksmithing Photos, but the most important photo is the one that resolves the "pics or it didn't happen" issue:
Cristin and I had a blast, so a small plug for these classes. Turns out that in a few weeks, they are running a special weekend "sampler": . They have morning and afternoon single session classes on both Saturday, Sep 19 and Sunday, Sep 20. It isn't cheap, but it isn't horrible either, $85/class. If you take two on the same day, you get $15 off the set. Cristin and I going to head up there on Saturday, Sep 19 for the whole day and if anyone else is interested in going, let me know.

The classes offered as samplers include:

  • Blacksmithing: undamental skills needed to forge steel and understand blacksmithing tools. Each students will walk away with a small finished project.
  • Glass Fusing: glass/heat interaction, glass cutting, fusing (combining colors), slumping (shaping glass into or over molds to create flat and dimensional forms), as well as a brief description of firing and annealing procedures.
  • Glass Flameworking: fundamentals of flameworking, and will cover a small variety of techniques like color pulling and applying, frit application, and marble making.
  • MIG Welding: Metal inert gas (MIG) welding, also known as wire-feed welding, falls between arc welding and TIG in the welding spectrum. Quieter and cleaner (and some say easier) than arc welding, MIG welding is typically used in production fabrication such as furniture making, light construction, and auto restoration. In this workshop you’ll learn the basics of MIG welding and plasma cutting.
  • Ceramics: no description online, but I think this is sculpting.
  • Jewelry: sawing, filing, sanding, soldering, texturing, annealing, stamping, polishing, safety, and design. Each student will walk away with one finished piece.
  • Sand Casting: Working with resin-bonded sand, you’ll learn the foundry basics as you build your own molds. As part of a casting team, you’ll have the exhilarating experience of pouring molten aluminum.
  • Resin Casting: Learn the secrets of plastic casting using flexible molds, just like the ones that professionals use for product development. You'll learn to make molds of found objects and use them to create plastic reproductions. Each student will walk away with one piece.


Jason said...

Very cool! I did some bronze casting and welding in college, it was a lot of fun.

changingman said...

Here on this blog post the photo of the Anvil was able to reflect a strange emotion on me, it immediately made me recollect my days in high school at our weekly metal work lessons. Its strange how a photo can put you back in time. Here I am now middle aged and the this photo brings me back to some very happy times in my childhood from my high school Claremont high Kenton Middlesex England. We simply loved metal work lessons as it was one of the great ways to participate in engineering. I thank you Greg for placing such a simple photo yet it is able to reflect some happiness which passed me by life. It also brings me back to our motor engineering lessons as those lessons were held in the same room as the metal work lessons. It would be great if my former metal work teacher Mr Morgan and Motor Engineering teacher Mr Burk were to come across this post:) I thank you Greg for allowing me to recall such seemed to be forgotten moments. Its no kidding a picture can say a thousand words. Mark Earl McGlashan