I know I'll get some great suggestions and want to say thank you in advance for them. I will also probably get some constructive criticism as well and want to say thank you in advance. So Hold on here we go.
Well I taught a blacksmithing lesson last night. It's been forever since I've given a lesson, probably been at least 4yrs. I have recently had a few people ask me if I could show them how to blacksmith, and I enjoy sharing this great craft/art/hobby what ever you would like to call it. I thought I would share what I learned from last night.
First let me say that up till last night everyone else that I had taught blacksmithing to was either a college student sent to the Historical Blacksmith shop on campus to learn the trade for the purposes of their degree. The rest were in the same Historical Blacksmith shop and were community volunteers. All of them had plenty of time to learn the basics and I had there attention for entire weekends. Last night I only had a couple of hours.
I covered most of what anyone needs to know. How the forge works, the various parts of the anvil, the vise, how to hold the hammer and how to hammer. The importance of your stance and of course how amazing it is that we take a hard substance like metal soften it by heating it up and then shaping it into an item using forge, hammer, and anvil.
How did the lesson go you ask? Well they enjoyed them selves and walked out the door with 1 S hook, 1 j hook, and 1 leaf hook. All in all I'd say that's not to bad.
But I was reminded of a few things.
1. pay attention to your student how they stand, hold the hammer, and how they interpret your instructions because you may thing your explaining things clearly. But what comes out of your mouth and what they hear you say can be completely different. Are they afraid of the forge or the glowing piece of metal because they don't want to get burnt, no one wants to get burnt.
2. Help them walk out of the shop with some items that they can be proud of. My student last night made a couple of hooks which is great. But in hind site I could have helped make these items look a little nice if I had for instance stepped in and fixed some of the minor mistakes on the hooks. Here is an example. My student wanted to make a leaf, that great I told her and showed her each step as that goes into making a leaf. We went step by step side by side I would show how on my peace of metal and then they would do the same on theirs. In hind site I think I should have done all of the hard forging and then allowed them to flatten out the leaf themselves. By doing this I could have helped them walk out the door with a little better looking leaf hook. Still forged out by them but perhaps made a little nice by my minor intervention.
3. We were crunched for time at the end and so we were unable to put a nice polish/finish on the hooks that were made I feel that I should have held onto the hooks and polished them up and then given them back at a later date. I see this person fairly regularly and that could have easily been done.
4. Pictures I didn't take any pictures perhaps a small thing but if I want to offer classes in blacksmithing I should have some pics of the students enjoying themselves and what they made during their time spent with me.
5 Charge a fair price for your time, in this instance I charged for the lesson depending on whom I'm teaching will depend on what I charge. For this lesson it was my boss's kid and this person is also a coworker so I charged less. I also used this as a chance for myself to relearn how to teach. The next time I will charge more but it's a sliding scale if it's a real good friend I'll do it for free or perhaps just the cost of fuel (I have a propane forge).
Ok so if you are still reading this thank you, we smiths only seem quiet once we start story telling look out. Any how the important things are Fun was had, an positive experience was given and everyone learned something. Oh and yes we both had on safety equipment on as well.