When I walked into the large garage of the Makerspace, I was prepared for an interesting experience, and I have not been disappointed.
From the pounding of metal on metal, to the screech of grinding machinery, I could tell that this place was 100% hands on. The garage was full of tools and machines that I had never seen before, including a car that had been completely gutted out and was in the process of being converted into an electric car. I also saw a small forge, which glowed red-orange with heat.
After taking in the scene, I introduced myself to the instructor, John Haskins. He seemed like a very cool, laid back kind of guy, and I immediately found myself asking questions about how things worked. “How hot does the forge get?” I asked. “This one gets to about 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit,” he answered. Wow! I thought, that’s really hot!
Jesse, a newbie here at the Makerspace, was pounding away at a metal rod, flattening the edges. I observed his process, and noticed how he would frequently place the metal inside the forge to heat it up, which I guessed made it more malleable and easier to work with. Then he would place the glowing metal in water to cool. He repeated this process. Pound, heat, cool, repeat.
I took pictures and asked questions while all the action was happening around me. I noticed a small, metal flower lying on a table. I asked John how he had made it, and he told me that he had spent less then an hour shaping the petals and twisting a short rod which was the stem. I was impressed at how little time it took to make something so pretty.
I also noticed a beautiful metal maple leaf, and wondered how it was made. I found out that it was shaped by multiple chasing tools, and the decorative leaf was an example of repoussé. Someone nearby was making a their own chasing tools (you can even make your own tools here?!).
John continued to answer all my questions and assist others. I felt very comfortable and interested in what was going on. I had heard of Blacksmithing before, but I had never been interested until I actually saw it being done in real life. I even had the inclination to pick up a hammer and try it myself! All I accomplished was a few dents in a scrap of metal, but I am sure I could improve with practice.
Not only does the Makerspace provide tools, materials, and instruction, they also provide a comfortable lounge area and a pantry full of drinks and snacks! So you could pound away at your own creation of metal, and if you got tired, you could simply take a break and crash on a comfortable sofa with a coke and a poptart. Sounds good to me, I thought.
Without a doubt, the Makerspace is an ideal place for learning the basics of Blacksmithing. Its also the ideal place to go any day of the week if you’re looking for a fun, educational, hands on experience. The people are friendly, and you’re free to create anything out of metal that your heart desires.
-Written and Photographed by Kaela Lawrence
You can see more of Kaela’s photographs from that day here on our Flickr account. As always we welcome and encourage people to come check us out every Thursday at 7 pm for our regular weekly get together. This is a great time to find out what we are all about.
Currently we have reoccurring events during the week. They are as follows:
Every Tuesday Evening is the Robotic Night Out (RBNO) starting at 7 pm
Every Wednesday evening is the Electronics Night starting at 7pm
Every 1st and 3rd Monday of the month is the Artist Night Out (ANO) starting at 7pm
Periodically there are classes on Blender (see our calendar for dates) and Software Freedom.