“…In the early ’70s, I was woodcarving in my garage and I needed tools that I couldn’t afford, so I took a class at a local high school to forge tools . . . and I just fell in love with the forge. Forged iron has a texture and a presence that is much richer than any other from of metal.
“When I started being interested in blacksmithing, there were, across the country, an entire generation who came to it on their own and then all of a sudden discovered each other. There were a group of us who said, ‘If we hang onto this long enough, we’re going to go through a renaissance the same way that glass and pottery had.’ Two hundred years ago, probably one person in every 50 was a blacksmith. They were working with forge and anvil in 1900. By 1920 the anvil and the forge were full of dust and cobwebs. Blacksmithing is undergoing an enormous resurgence. There are many, many more blacksmiths now than when I started.
“To me, it’s the physical act. Artistic development, business understanding–all that stuff has been an adaptation to allow me to continue to hit hot steel. It’s the thing that makes me feel good. It’s the feeling of the impact, swinging something heavy and hitting something that yields to that–and yields to it in a way that you intended it to. Just bashing around on hot steel can get to be too much work, but if you actually see something forming under hand, there is an enormous emotional reward.
“I pride myself in being able to work in a number of different styles. I don’t know that I have a style any more, other than the fact that I like really to form the metal. I don’t want people to know what piece of metal I started with.”
– Toby Hickman, quoted in Iron Man: Blacksmith Toby Hickman keeps the anvil and hammer in good use by Sara Bir, in the August 1-7, 2002 issue of the North Bay Bohemian.
Advanced Power Hammer Skills
May 26 – June 7, 2013, in the iron studio:
This class will teach power hammer skills, including hit-turn, use of stop blocks to specific dimension, shouldering for abrupt change of section, and upsetting to increase cross section. Students will forge a pair of box-jaw tongs and the hand tools needed to forge them. We will forge, harden, and temper hand-held hot cuts, sets and punches, and open and closed dies.
This is an intermediate/advanced level workshop. Please include with your application a résume, a one-page letter telling why you’d like to take the class, and five printed images of your work.
Toby Hickman is a studio blacksmith and the owner/operator of Lost Coast Forge in Fort Briggs, California. He was the 2012 recipient of ABANA’s Alex Bealer Award for lifetime service to blacksmithing. He is a founding member and two-time president of the California Blacksmith Association, and a former board member of ABANA. Toby has been forging on self-contained pneumatic hammers since 1981 when he bought his first Nazel 2B hammer.
Click here to watch Toby Hickman in action!
Interested? Click here for more information and registration for this and Penland’s other summer workshops.
♫ Penland summer! Here it comes! Oh, oh, oh! ♫