I just finished taking the most amazing forging workshop with Marc Maiorana. For two weeks I was removed from everything (I tried to blog...and it was NOT happening) and sweat my blistering way through my introduction to iron (steel) forging. I am so pumped to use this in my work this year, being my last year in my MFA program at UWM.
Not sure where to begin other than this was my first time to Penland and I would recommend it to anyone considering it. Excellent people. Excellent experience. Amazing energy in this place.
I went to Penland early to help volunteer for their annual auction. I saw a Hoss Haley sculpture get auctioned off for $34K. Crazy. Really have never been to anything like this in my life. It was very very interesting.
Since I was at Penland a few days early, I was especially ready to start forging, and it is a good thing. Our talented instructor, Marc Maiorana, hit the ground running. The first 3 or 4 days were packed full of demos and before I knew it I had more info than I knew what to do with.
Marc showed us the value of blacksmithing with a buddy. Using more force properly and making the job more efficient, because after all, our time is very valuable, use it wisely. Here Katie Conroy helps Marc forge out a rather large piece of stock with her sledge. She really knew how to swing that thing! (Sorry its sideways..I'm not too sure how to fix that..)
One of the most important demos Marc showed us was how to forge weld our material together. Forge welding is a process of heating the steel to almost melting temperature, using a bit of flux and a little luck and fusing the two elements together. Marc demonstrated connecting both two parts of one piece and a much more complicated weld, two separate pieces into one.
I have poked around with a gas forge before, but had never really worked with a coal forge. I liked it! I was dirty and sweaty and smelly all day every day, but people kind of expected it after a while, so I felt like I could get away with it. Had to shower every night, no matter how late I got home, but it didn't take long to get back to the same state I was in before.
Also huge to the blacksmithing community are their power hammers. The power hammers are electro-pneumatic tools that were originally created for industry as early as 1870, and apparently a lot of these machines are still kicking around. I just loved them! Sounds kinda like a train in the studio. I love that independent artists now own them and use them for one of a kind work. Marc demonstrated the Penland power hammer to us (and I LOVE big tools, so this was especially fun for me) and later when we visited Elizabeth Brim and Zack Noble, they also turned on their hammers for us. I will post more about those visits in my next post.
I have SO many more photos..if you would like to see, check out my flickr page here.
Through out the week, while we were making samples and projects, Marc told us about this project that he has been attempting for the last 4 years to get the entire class to complete a class forge weld. Lucky for him, we were a fast learning group (and maybe pretty lucky) and we pulled it off! I was a little pre-emptive on turning on the camera so the real action starts at about 1:50, but it was truly an exciting end to the very eventful week. Marc was so happy he posted it on the front page of his website.