Jump to content
I Forge Iron

Did my first Demo!

Recommended Posts

Hi Folks!


Last thursday I did my first blacksmithing demonstration! It went very good - I got nice feedback since then and I liked the feeling out there, too. The audience was a campfull of children (age 8-16). They were at a handcrafting "camp", so were interested about crafts. Also they have never seen a living (or dead) blacksmith - so they had not too high expectations.  ;)


Of course there were some flaws but I tried to bend them into advantage: I "purposefully" showed the workpiece throwing sparks, had a little firework while applying linseed oil etc. - Ironically one of the little guys mentioned the sparkthrower scene as his favorite part, hehe...


The demo was built up from three main parts: 

1. Theoretic introduction 

Or what is what around here. There was only one child of the 30-35 who actually knew the name of the anvil. In a rural region as ours here between flatlands and nowhere I really thought that more of them is familiar with the word. One of them - a wisecrack chuckles :)  - even told they have one of those things. But the question -what do you call that, then? - stayed unanswered. 

So there was a lot new info for them, and they liked it. - I tried to keep it funny and interactive instead of just telling the stuff. They liked to touch the tools - was good that there were many teachers among them.


2. Demo forging 

Nail end J-hook with twist (10 mm square stock). Showing techniques: 1. hot cut, 2. tapering to point, 3. drawing out, 4. making rat tail, 5. bending to hook, 6. twisting, 7. hot wirebrushing and oil finishing.

The kids enjoyed this part so much I had to stop and make them step back - they pushed the rope in to get closer to the anvil. Also the first time when I took the glowing iron out of the fire there was a big WOW!


3. Forging together

We made a small heart from 8 mm square stock. In many heats, each heat hit by different child. While the stock was heated I told the little apprentice what is coming and how and where to hit. This was a popular part, too. The result was simple but nice enough.




I want to thank all of you guys who wrote here on IFI about demoing. Including checklists, easy projects, safety advices, how to speak-s, stories etc. And special thanks to Viktor for the heart idea.  :) Without you guys this whole thing would have been more PITA as fun.


And as fun here are some pics:



the audience



showing how hot is hot steel



some forging done



"Uhh, I've done better..."



my niece - guess who knew the word anvil?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you Gergely, you put a great big smile on my face for today. I love doing demos and kids are the best audience, they ask the best questions. Did you LOVE the looks on their faces when you did the twist? Twists seem to awe most audiences but kids ooh and ah out loud.


My only suggestion is to NOT let kids near the anvil wearing sandals (flip flops or thongs here in the US.) there's too good a chance for hot scale to stick to a kid's foot. That's not the best way to teach a kid about burns. <wink>


Frosty The Lucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 That's not the best way to teach a kid about burns. <wink>


Whatayamean, Frosty??!!?  Isn't that the FASTEST way to teach 'em?  It may leave a mark, but not forever....


Maybe it's thinking like that, that's kept me single for the past 40+yrs....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pain is temporary, life lessons about hot things tend to last.

Gerg, I totally get the exhaustion and at least in my book that's a very good sign. I used to teach classes about how to take down psychotic patients (long story there!), it was only about a half day class and it wasn't that physical, but it was utterly exhausting because you are so fully, completely engaged, with the subject matter and with your audience. The sign of a good teacher, so well done there Gerg! Any ol fool can get up and explain things, but to be that fully engaged in an activity says a lot about the teacher. Congrats...your exhaustion marks you as a Natural.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you guys for the great responses!


Yeah, these kids sure were funny audience. Even the "bad" (?) ones helped a lot to keep on the entertaining. :)






The "bad?" kids are often the ones who can make the show. A good way to handle the disruptive kids is put them to work. They're usually being disruptive because they're maybe bored or just don't understand and don't want to admit it. make them part of the demo and they get some one on one, good attention and hopefully learn what's going on. It's a win win.


Frosty The Lucky.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Good story, Gerg, and congratulations on the success of your first demo. no doubt you will do many more.
Most of my forge work is with visitors and schoolgroups - very busy lately with the winter tourist season in full swing. You get some really nice people (and the occasional know-it-all) coming to demos and you will get used to the same old questions.
School groups are good fun though, as the kids have had little or no experience of blacksmithing. As an ex-schoolie, I start my sessions off in our traditional 1860s classroom and then take them to the farriers forge where we can place easily 40 children around the display area.
We start off talking about what a blacksmith does and the tools he (or she) uses. I tell them about the big three - anvil, forge and vice. They are labelled with flip-down labels so the little ones can read out the words. We give them a question sheet where they have to say how air gets to the fire, draw the shape of the anvil and explain why the smith uses long-handled tongs. Simple questions for the younger kids and a bit more involved for the upper grades.
I try to involve them as much as possible. I usually choose a girl to turn the blower. If you say 'gently' that's what they do. Boys like a roaring volcano which produces lovely sparks on the metal you want to be red not white. And I usually show the girls Lorelie Simms' book The Backyard Blacksmith, to let them know that blacksmithing is not the solely a male occupation.
We talk about how metal changes when it gets hot. I have two lengths of 1/2 inch reo bar on hand. One is being heated in the forge, the other I hand to the biggest, burliest looking spectator (all the better if it's a teacher or principal) and ask them to bend it in their bare hands. Not possible. We then take the piece from the forge at yellow heat and tightly clamp it in the vice. I choose one of the smallest kids (covered shoes of course - no thongs!), put some safety glasses and gloves on them and, keeping them well clear of the hot end, get them to bend the bar with one finger. There are gasps of amazement and the little fellow goes away with a herculean view of himself. A simple little demo, but it shows how hot steel can be worked better than cold.
I like the teaching mantra - I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.
After that I usually forge a quick S hook which demonstrates drawing out, scrolling, bending and twisting, and present it to the blower turner for a job well done in providing the heat. I usually add a bit of brass burnishing to the hook as it cools. My explanation for the gold colour - just 'magic'!
And yes, Frosty's comment about the twisting is right. They love to see that spiral shape formed in square bar and watch the scale falling. Sometimes I'll have a reo snake all but finished in the edge of the forge. The kids like it when you put in the last bend and quench it and it hisses - coming to life!
And don't you like the kids' questions? I remember one little girl who said I would be in trouble because I wiped my wet charcoal-grimy hands on my apron.
Thanks for the post, Gerg, and may you have many more appreciative audiences and fascinated children at your forge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks again guys!



the "baddest" boy not only helped me with providing questions and fun but he was the one who did the best work on the workpiece. Did what I told to do beforehand and felt really what is going on with the material.



Thanks for the valuable material on demos for children - good tips there.  I'm thinking towards the line of doing demos in my own shop, so... 

But what does "reo" mean?






Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gerg, reo is reinforcing steel - the stuff used under concrete. Some call it deformed bar. Not sure what the term is in America. I use it (and threaded rod) for snakes all the time - you already have the scaly appearance.
We Australians have a tendency to shorten words by adding "o". The garbo collects the garbage, you get your beer at the bottle-o, an ambo is a paramedic, smoko is morning tea, you get your fuel at the servo, you pay rego on your car, and there are many many more. And of course 'demo'.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...