JMR

Chicago Blacksmith

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I have just started getting into blacksmithing and in a short amount of time it has almost become an addiction. I have a great deal of respect for the art/profession and I am happy to see that there are people keeping it alive. However, it seems that blacksmithing is almost non–existent in the Chicago-land area. I might be looking in the wrong places but it has been very difficult to find anything about Chicago blacksmithing culture. The Chicago school of arts offers a $400 blacksmith class… I would rather buy $400 in steel and learn my mistakes.  I have looked into the Illinois Valley Blacksmith’s Association and all of their events are 3 or more hours south of the City.

 

Is anyone aware of any blacksmith events near the city/suburbs? I have been reading several books and online information to help me get started but it would be nice to meet an experienced smith(s) to help further build by skills and knowledge. 

 

Any information would be greatly appreciated.  

 

Thanks,

 

JR

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check with UMBA at www.umbaonline.ning.com then board members for someone local.

Jim Hensel is close to chicago and Roger Carlson used to have a shop in town I think.

John Biewer at [email protected] sells equipment and used to work in town.

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The Pontiac Reginal conference in July is a great place to make contacts.

A few hours form you but I drive over from Minnesota.

Clifton Ralph is in Gary, ID not sure if he does any shop work but was the man when it came to power hammers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have just started getting into blacksmithing and in a short amount of time it has almost become an addiction. I have a great deal of respect for the art/profession and I am happy to see that there are people keeping it alive. However, it seems that blacksmithing is almost non–existent in the Chicago-land area. I might be looking in the wrong places but it has been very difficult to find anything about Chicago blacksmithing culture. The Chicago school of arts offers a $400 blacksmith class… I would rather buy $400 in steel and learn my mistakes.  I have looked into the Illinois Valley Blacksmith’s Association and all of their events are 3 or more hours south of the City.

 

Is anyone aware of any blacksmith events near the city/suburbs? I have been reading several books and online information to help me get started but it would be nice to meet an experienced smith(s) to help further build by skills and knowledge. 

 

Any information would be greatly appreciated.  

 

Thanks,

 

JR

Do not dismiss paying for instruction.  You will progress much faster with a competent teacher.  Many fab shops will give away steel scraps for coffee beer or doughnuts.  I always give steel to aspiring smiths who darken my door as I typically have 10,000 lbs of material on hand. 

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Welcome aboard JR, glad to have you. There are a number of organizations in the mid-west. Unless you're one of the lucky folk with a real knack for smithing you'll find $400 a bargain. I'm mostly self taught untill a decade or so ago and believe me figuring everything out yourself can be a serious PITA. Just an hour watching someone else forge I learned more than days and sometimes weeks on my own.

 

Frosty The Lucky.

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Thanks Everyone for the information. I am going to try and make it to the regional event in Pontiac, IL. It is only about 1.5 hours from Chicago.

 

Do not dismiss paying for instruction.  You will progress much faster with a competent teacher.  Many fab shops will give away steel scraps for coffee beer or doughnuts.  I always give steel to aspiring smiths who darken my door as I typically have 10,000 lbs of material on hand. 

 

Tim, thanks for the tip on the scrap steel. The scrap yards near me have be brutal with there pricing. I will hunt around and see if some of the fab shops around here will work with me. 

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Hello JR,
Please message me. I am a Chicago area intermediate blacksmith hobbyist. I have a little smithy in my backyard that I have managed to get away with, so far.
Robert Hanford

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Sometimes I wonder if you find more smiths in the country simply due to the fact that noise abatement issues in the bigger cities is rather strict. If you move into the burbs and start setting up a smithy it won't be long before you draw negative attention. That is unless your in a basement or heavily insulated/sound suppressed shop. Neighbors will put up with a little, but if it becomes a daily occurrence they're probably going to report you.

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Here are some excepts of my town's noise related ordinances. As far as I can tell, I am in the clear for forging as long as it is not between 10:00pm and 7:00am. I am also allow to whistle, yell and shout. Not sure what is classified as hooting but I might try it. So I can whistle while I work and yell and shout when I make mistakes. Pretty comical.

 

It shall be unlawful for any person to use any hammer or power-operated tool for repair or construction purposes between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. within six hundred (600) feet of any building used for residential or hospital purposes if such noise is audible from any adjacent property used for residential or hospital purposes. Repairs to public service utilities shall be exempted from this section.

 

It shall be unlawful to engage in yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m. within six hundred (600) feet of any building used for residential or hospital purposes or indoors if such noise is audible from any adjacent property used for residential or hospital purposes.

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I'm still learning up her in the Libertyville Illinois area.  Ive been busy with the masonry work (my Job) latlely but My buddy and me get the forge and power hammer going on the weekends and make all kinds of noise. Maybe we can have you over sometime.

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I frequently visit the Zion/Waukegan areas.  Would enjoy meeting some smiths in these areas ( or Kenosha ).  I do not bring any tools with me when I come.

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Hi JR,

I am curious if you found others in the Chicago area to learn from and share ideas with.  I am also a beginner, and an architect who was just laid off after 20 years as a designer. In order to keep my mind balanced while I look for my next professional role, I'll be moving forward on a few sculpture ideas I've been planning for some time. I built a small forge during a forging class that I took at the School of the Art Institute several years ago.  It has sat cold in my shed for too long.  I am in Rolling Meadows but also downtown and throughout the suburbs on a regular basis if you or anyone else would like to touch base sometime.

Jeff

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I'm up in Kenosha area, have very limited space for a so-called "shop" in a corner of my garage, but do what I can with what I have available.  :)

If you're ever in the area, swing by for a beer.  This time of the year, the beer has no problem staying real cold....

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Not trying to hi-jack this thread, but I'm going to be back in the western 'burbs of Chi-town (where I was raised) visiting family from the 24th through the 29th of this month and would love to be able to visit any smiths/shops in the area if they'd enjoy a visitor or two (brothers/sisters/nephews may like to come to...).

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Look into The Grove in Glenview. They offer an introductory blacksmithing class that I took back in October. It was very informative for a complete newbie like me. It's a 7 hour class and it got me completely hooked on smithing. Now if I could just find an anvil...

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Hello Everyone,

I have been searching for a local blacksmith in the Chicago suburbs who can help me learn more about blacksmithing. I have been doing several small project in my garage and I would really like to learn more techniques from someone with more knowledge. I have called fabrication shop throughout the area and there have had no luck with someone willing to teach me a few things. Any information you could provide would be appreciated. 

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Upper Midwest Blacksmith Association ..web site.... umba.name  We have an winter even in South Beloit in Feb ,details on the web site

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Well, it has been 3 years and still no blacksmiths in the Chicago area that I have found. I did find a fabricator in Addison who was kindly gave me some scrap steel but was more into making commercial gates and railings. Over the years blacksmithing has become more popular but I just cannot believe that there are not more people from Chicago...the former steel capital of the world.

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@JMR There's a place called "Ephram Forge" in Frankfort, and "The cutting edge", in Oswego."

And......

Lawndale Forge-Lawndale

Kropp Forge-Cicero

J.Gilbert & Co-Humboldt Park

Custom Iron Works- Northlake

Schulte Studios-Sugar Grove

Anvil Arts and Design-Newark

Charles Larson and Sons-Belmont Gardens

Mitchel and Mitchel-Way up by Irving Park I think

Me-???

Good luck der guy! 

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Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association

Open Forges at Mt. Vernon’s Pioneer Village blacksmith shop the 2nd Saturday. Bring dish for Pot luck lunch. The Sugar Grove Forge is located at Sugar Grove Nature Center and is open the 3rd Saturday of each month. Lunch is on your own. We are at the Carlinville shop for a work day every Wednesday from about 10:00 to 3:00 any one wanting to fire up a forge is welcome. Steve Knowles shop in Decatur has open forges on the 2nd Saturday of the odd months for those in the Decatur area.

You will know if any of these are close to your location.

 

Upper Midwest Blacksmith Association

Event February 25 and 26 2017 (am to 5 pm at Jim Ribordys shop. See site for details.

 

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Thank you Glenn and Jack for the suggestions. Umba and ivba are over 2 hours from my location. I will look into the Northlake suggest as that is about 20 mins from my location. I will let you know how it turns our.

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We used to carpool to get to the SOFA meetings that were 2 hours away; great fun as we stopped at a fleamarket on the way, had pie at the FFFF booth and still made it to the afternoon meetings...

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Hi JMR. I guess I'm not the only one having trouble finding other blacksmiths in Chicago (and finding a place to work can be just as difficult, though maybe easier if you're in the suburbs).

I forge at the Chicago Industrial Arts and Design Center, in Rogers Park. It's great if you want some general metalworking knowledge or want to supplement with woodwork or foundry. There's more fabrication than forging right now and no blacksmith guru to learn from; but we've got a propane forge and a couple of anvils and it's a nice clean space to work in if you're ever looking for that. If you are interested in checking it out, let me know and I'd be happy to give you the dime tour.

I'm also aware of the Fire Arts Center, though I don't know too much about them.

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