The rhythmic clanging of a hammer against hot metal, the sweat, the heat, the sizzle of the scorching material being plunged into cool water, the acrid sulfurous smell.
At the start of the fall 2019 semester, College of Charleston began its first ever blacksmithing class. A class that filled up very quickly and has been receiving a lot of positive feedback.
“What I want to do as a professor is to just introduce the diverse set of skills they [students] can then incorporate into their own artistic tool belt, as it were, and use them to achieve their own goals,” said Professor Carey Morton, who is instructing the course.
Blacksmithing may seem like a practice that is outdated and therefore not very well received by students at the College; but in fact blacksmithing is a skill and an art form that holds a lot of relevance considering the area that the College is situated in.
“I think the class has been so popular because of the Charleston connection,” says Jarod Charzewski, associate professor of studio art and head of the sculpture studio. “Our students live among some of the best wrought iron and blacksmithed fences, gates and details in the U.S., so it makes sense that they would want to give it a try. We are so glad they do.”
The class consists of 10 students conveining for three and a half hours each week to produce three different projects throughout the semester.
Before diving right into the furnace and banging down on the anvil, Morton kicks off the class by demonstrating to students how the different equipment works and how to handle the tools properly. Since there can be a strong learning curve when it comes to blacksmithing, Morton begins his class by having students work with clay before hot metal because of how similar they are in terms of moldability.
Because of this, students are able to be a lot more confident in their abilities and in the pieces that they produce.
In the end, Morton aspires to teach and challenge his students to think outside the box in terms of blacksmithing and in terms of just life in general.
“When you realize that you can conquer any fear of these scary tools and fire and things like that you can apply that to so many things in life. Being able to be self sufficient and solve problems in a creative manner which is really all art is for the most part.” Morton said.