For more information: Virginia Blacksmithing Institute Website
Try Your Hand at Blacksmithing!
Swing a big hammer to strike a glowing piece of metal against a solid anvil and create something beautiful, useful – or both! Courses meet at the Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing, South River complex, 200 W. Twelfth Street, Waynesboro, with most scheduled one Saturday and Sunday, 9 am-4 pm. Unless otherwise noted, courses are led by instructor Dale Morse, who attended Penland and John C. Campbell craft schools in NC, and studied in Germany and Italy.
From beginning and intermediate blacksmithing to metal jewelry and stained glass, there’s a course to meet your skill level and area of interest!
NOTE: The Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing is located in a gated warehouse complex. Students will need to obtain the keypad code when registering. Required attire for all classes: natural fiber clothing only - no synthetic materials; boots or closed-toe shoes (no sandals). Shoes/clothing will get dirty. Eye and ear protection provided.
Build a Helmet
Create a helmet with your own embellishment to show off at the next SCA event or Renaissance Fair. Refine your shop safety, fire management, and hammer control skills. Saturday and Sunday, 9 am-4 pm, Meets: Jun 21-22 OR Sep 20-21 OR Dec 20-21
Build a Shield
Learn all you need to know about shop safety, fire management, and hammer control. Create a shield with your own emblems ready for mock battle - a great piece to show off at the next Renaissance Fair.
Meets: Jul 19-20 OR Oct 18-19
Build a Spear
Practice shop safety, fire management, and hammer control as you make a spear head of your own pattern…worthy of Middle Earth! A dowel will be provided for each spear head.
Meets: Aug 16-17
Fire, Rakes and Leaves
Learn basic blacksmithing skills plus an introduction to leaf making. Projects will include a forged fire rake. Saturday and Sunday, 9 am-4 pm.
Meets: Aug 23-24
Hook Rack & Candlestick
Hammer metal to create a candlestick and wall-mounted coat rack in this beginner level course. Class includes safe shop practices, fire management, efficient hammer techniques and basic forging.
Meets: Sep 13-14
Fireplace Tools for the Home
Tired of the handles on that store bought poker falling off? Learn to create a fire poker and a shovel, fireplace tools that will last for generations. As time allows, you will also make individual hooks, or a hook rack for your new fire tools. This is a project driven class. Prior blacksmithing experience not required.
Meets: Sep 27-28
Wall-Mounted Pot Rack
Learn basic blacksmithing skills, shop safety, fire management, and hammer control, plus riveting and bending tools and techniques. Projects include a wall-mounted pot rack.
Meets: Oct 11-12
Ready to go camping? How about making your own campfire rotisserie and cooking utensils? You will learn all that good safety, fire management and hammer control info. In addition you will make a really cool and useful project for that camp or back yard fire pit.
Meets: Oct 25-26
Blacksmithing for Women - Chased Leaves & Repousse Floral Form New
Learn about shop safety, fire management, and hammer control in this beginner’s course, where you’ll create leaves and a rose out of metal – and take home your own creation!
Meets: Nov 8-9
Build a Wine Rack
What better way to store your favorite wines than in a wine rack you have made yourself! Or, create a gift for that wine lover in the family. Craft either a counter-top or hanging wine rack in this project-driven class. Each design is simple but elegant, decorated with grape leaves rendered in steel. Prior blacksmithing experience not required.
Meets: Nov 22-23
Table Top Candelabra New
Along with shop safety, fire management and hammer control, this class covers beginner scroll work. Create a beautiful three-candle tabletop candelabra. Perfect for holiday gift giving!
Meets: Dec 13-14
Fun-da-metals Evening Course
Artistic metal fabrication and blacksmithing is what you will learn in this comprehensive course. Topics include shop safety, layout and design, cutting, oxy-acetelyne torch techniques, mig-welding, drilling, grinding, finishing, and beginning blacksmithing. Build a stool, garden gate, or fire screen project - or work on a project of your own.
Meets: Four Tuesdays, July 8, 15, 22, 29 OR August 5, 12, 19, 26 OR September 9, 16, 23, 30 OR October 7, 14, 21, 28 OR November 4, 11, 18, 25 OR December 2, 9, 16, 23
Create decorative patterns in metal by forge welding steels of different carbon contents as you explore pattern development. You will make three billets of damascus in three different manipulated patterns. This is a good class to take prior to Intermediate Tongs, Tools and Knives. Prerequisite: any Blacksmithing Beginner Class or previous blacksmithing experience. Saturday and Sunday, 9 am-4 pm.
Meets: Jul 26-27
Tongs, Tools, & Knives
Forge your own set of tongs and get an introduction to knife making in this two-day intermediate class that focuses on simple tools, hardening and tempering. Prerequisite: Any Blacksmithing Beginner Class or previous blacksmithing experience.
Meets: Aug 9-10
Introduction to Soldering and Stone Setting NEW
This class introduces soldering fundamentals for sterling silver jewelry on day one and bezel setting of cabochon stones on day two. Prior experience helpful, but not essential. $25 materials fee payable to instructor covers sterling silver and non-precious cabochons. Students are welcome to bring their own stones.
Meets: Jul 19-20
Metalsmithing/Jewelry - Tool-making and Repousse NEW
Tool-making for Jewelers - Teaches the fundamentals of creating and tempering high carbon steel tools for chasing and Repousse at the blacksmith’s forge. Opportunities to use tools in the jewelry studio on day two and refine or add tools as needed. Carbon steel and copper for Repousse work provided. Materials fee of $10 payable to instructor.
Meets: Aug 30-31
Introduction to Metalsmithing/Jewelry
Using copper and brass, this class will translate traditional designs and techniques of blacksmithing to the intimate scale of jewelry. Students will use hammers and bending tools on brass and copper to learn the graceful art of moving metal. Different patina techniques will be described. There will be some torch work. $10 materials fee payable to instructor.
Meets: Sep 6 OR Nov 22
Torch Fired Enamels NEW
Painting with fire! Torch firing enamels onto metal is an affordable and fun technique for students of every level. It offers extreme spontaneity and versatility for students looking to add color to their jewelry designs without the time and experience requirements of kiln fired enameling. $10 materials fee, payable to instructor.
Meets: Sep 20 OR Dec 6
Small Scale Steel Jewelry NEW
Learn forging techniques with iron/steel worked red hot! Students will be applying blacksmithing techniques on a scale suitable for jewelry utilizing torches rather than forges. $10 material fee payable to instructor.
Meets: Oct 4
Jewelry Open Studio – Advanced NEW
Instructor Karen Friedlander will be on hand in the Metalsmithing/Jewelry studio to help with advanced projects or continuation of previous Metalsmithing/Jewelry projects.
Meets: Oct 25 OR Dec 13
Metalsmithing/Jewelry - Introduction to Soldering NEW
Introduces soldering fundamentals for sterling silver jewelry. Materials fee of $20 payable to instructor.
Meets: Nov 1
Introduction to Stained Glass Workshop New
Follow step-by-step instructions on cutting glass, preparing patterns, foiling and soldering in this beginner’s course. You’ll go home with at least one finished stained glass project.
Meets: Sep 13-14 OR Oct 18-19 OR Nov 15-16
Metal Work and Welding
Modern Metal Work and Welding for the DIY’er NEW
Designed for the Do-It-Yourself-er, this introduction to the processes of working with metal is also great for those who want to repair farm equipment or make pistol targets, and for engineering students who need to learn practical skills. Learn to work with: acetylene torch, belt-driven sander, Mig welder, hand-held grinder, chop saw, band saw - and more.
You’ll gain a basic knowledge of modern metal working, practice your skills and take home a finished project (bring your ideas!).
Meets: Jul 5-6 OR Aug 2-3 OR Aug 16-17 OR Sep 6-7 OR Sep 20-21 OR Oct 4-5 OR OCT 18-19 OR Nov 1-2 OR Nov 15-16
Blacksmithing Certification Program
If you like to work with your hands and be creative, learning a trade in the art of traditional blacksmithing might be the career journey for you. Designed to train students in the art of architectural and ornamental metalwork on a professional level, this certification program qualifies successful students to work for and continue their training with a professional blacksmith. The Certification Program begins in September and is limited to 10 students each year. Students who successfully complete the program will receive a certificate from Blue Ridge Community College.
Workshops meet 8 am to 5 pm Saturday and Sunday; most of the 12 workshops also include afternoon labs on Fridays (3-6 pm). Workshops must be taken in sequence, unless you’ve had prior experience AND pass an aptitude test.
The 12 workshops cover many aspects of blacksmithing, as well as topics such as introduction to business management/accounting, zoning and building codes. The instructor may also recommend other online micro-business management courses. Certificate program instructor Dale Morse has more than 35 years of experience in traditional blacksmithing, is the co-founder of the Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing and proprietor of Clay Hill Forge, an artisan blacksmithing company specializing in architectural and ornamental ironwork.
Weekend Workshop 1
Learn blacksmithing safety and shop etiquette; explore basic skills in fire management, hammer techniques, hand and power tool use. Projects include a three-hook wall rack and matching pair of candlesticks. Techniques include square and round points, twists, tenons, controlled texturing, and use of a torch. You will produce at least 100 hooks of a specific design and will be graded on time and accuracy. In labs, you will need to demonstrate an ability to comfortably reproduce multiple hooks that match, tenons of consistent size, twists of consistent form, and strong attractive basic joinery.
Meets: Sep 6-7; required afternoon labs Sep 12, 19, 26, Oct 3
Weekend Workshop 2
Add modern fabrication techniques to your blacksmithing skills. This workshop focuses on an introduction to mig welding, oxy-acetylene torch work, and plasma cutting. Projects include building a blacksmith’s coal forge. Four three-hour labs are required to perfect fabrication skills. You will need to demonstrate an ability to accurately cut forms with modern tools, weld them together neatly and strongly, and finish them for strength and aesthetics.
Meets: Oct 4-5; required afternoon labs Oct 10, 17, 24, 31
Weekend Workshop 3
Expand skills learned in the introductory class with the addition of basic bending and beveling techniques and layout. You’ll focus on an introduction to bending forks and dogs, as well as fullers and swages. Projects include a wall-mounted pot rack. Labs focus on perfecting bending and reduction skills. You will need to demonstrate an ability to bend consistently and accurately to a scale drawing.
Meets: Nov 1-2; required afternoon labs: Nov 7, 14, 21, Dec 5
Weekend Workshop 4
Learn tool making techniques and receive an introduction to power hammering. Topics include differences in carbon and alloy steels appropriate for tools in the forge; safety protocols and benefits of power hammers; and the manipulation of hardness in steel. Projects include top tools and tongs. Hardening and tempering skills are the focus of workshop labs, where you will need to demonstrate an ability to consistently produce power hammered forms and tools of consistent and appropriate hardness.
Meets: Dec 6-7; required afternoon labs: Dec 12, 19, Jan 2, 9