Beginner's blacksmithing class shows how to handle a forge
By Dean-Paul Stephens
Saturday, August 12, 2017
FARMVILLE — As the partnership between East Carolina University and Farmville entities continues to enhance art throughout town, one college student is spending his time teaching and promoting blacksmithing.
The May Museum & Park hosted a beginner’s blacksmithing class Aug. 5 and Sunday, hosted by East Carolina University student Chris Lew.
The class is designed to acquaint those interested in blacksmithing with the ancient art form.
“We at the museum have been talking about putting up a blacksmith site for years. We never had a connection with a blacksmith, so this is the perfect opportunity,” said Deb Higgins, the director of the May Museum & Park.
The Aug. 5 class had 10 students, including Chief Donnie Greene of the Farmville Police Department. Sunday’s class had six participants, including a repeat participant from the July 17 class.
“They're all kind of working at the same level. Chris is going over the tools of the trade and the safety requirements and he puts them right to work with the forge and beating the metal,” Higgins said, as she explained the ins and outs of the class.
The lessons focused on the basics of blacksmithing. Participants tried their hand at making various decorative ornaments from repurposed railroad spikes.
While the lessons are sufficient enough to get participants started, it will take a lot of work for them to get to the level of sword making, like blacksmiths depicted in fantasy stories like “Lord of the Rings,” Higgins said.
Fantasy stories were what forged Lew’s interest in blacksmithing.
“It's kind of a silly thing, but I loved playing video games when I was a kid, so I wanted to learn how to make my own swords,” Lew said. “I asked my dad if I could make my own forge and he said, ‘Yes.’ That's how I got started in it.”
He began learning the art of blacksmithing at age 14.
“Getting into it was very difficult. When you're a beginner and you don't have a teacher, learning by yourself is very hard. It's just all about getting out there, playing around, having fun, not expecting to make anything, but if you do, great. If not, at least you've got some experience,” Lew said.
Joshua Kenyon, a beginner blacksmith student, signed up for the class because of his interest in the equipment.
“I've been gathering all the tools and different implements. I've been figuring out ways to make an anvil because I don't feel like spending on one from a vendor,” Kenyon said.
Ronnie Matlock, another beginner blacksmith student, signed up to get involved in his new home. Originally from Arkansas, Matlock moved to Farmville a year ago.
“This is the most active small town I've seen in my life,” he said, adding he enjoyed the class.
Higgins plans to continue the blacksmith classes. She hopes the interest among residents in blacksmithing will prompt the museum advisory board to open a blacksmith shop at the museum.
For more information or to register for a blacksmithing class, call the museum at 252-753-6725.
The Enterprise serves western Pitt County including Falkland, Farmville and Fountain.