The California Blacksmith Association fulfills its primary function as a non-profit educational organization by sponsoring a number of ongoing blacksmithing workshops. These are low-cost workshops with the payment usually covering the cost of materials. Workshops are usually held in the shop or home shop of a member, but are sometimes held at museums or other public facilities.
The instructors are all qualified smiths who are volunteering time to keep the craft of smithing alive. Some instructors have years of experience as working smiths. All instructors have met a minimum qualification standard set up by the CBA education committee. They are also required to undertake additional ongoing training.
Workshops are divided into three levels; the skills taught in each level form the foundation for success in the next. Receipt of a certificate not only indicates mastery of a set of skills, it also indicates readiness to take on more advanced levels of learning. The requirement for receipt of a certificate is completion of the graduation project to the satisfaction of the instructor.
This certificate will be awarded to those who have completed the Level 1 training or the equivalent. They will have presented to their instructor the Farm Gate Hook (see drawing) and have passed a safety test.
Completion of these basic skills is expected to take approximately 40 hours. It is assumed that the beginning blacksmith has no shop or tools of their own.
This certificate is awarded to those who show competence in all the skills required at the intermediate level. In addition, they will show they can apply those skills in the construction of articles and pass a safety test. To receive this certificate, the blacksmith will present to their instructor a complete rectangular frame that uses traditional joinery (two L-shaped pieces with one end tenoned and the other punched with an upset square corner between.)
The frame is to be fillled with either two ’S' or ‘C’ type scrolls (with different ends on each scroll) and the scrolls collared together. It is suggested that the student first produce a drawing and practice Forging to Dimension. Refer to the Intermediate Grill Drawing.
This certificate is awarded to those who show expertise in all the skills required at the advanced levels. In addition, they will show they can apply those skills in the construction of articles and they will become proficient in making the tools required to produce The Journeyman's Grill. To receive this certificate, the blacksmith will present to their instructor one of two completed projects:
A blacksmith may become an instructor at any level - L I, II, or III. The Instructor Certification is based upon demonstrated ability, interest, and willingness to teach other blacksmiths. A prospective Instructor receives his or her Instructor Certificate following completion of a Public Demonstration of a specific project, including a Storyboard detailing the steps. Handouts describing the processes are encouraged, and should also be provided to the California Blacksmith magazine editor for publication. The demonstration project may be of the blacksmith's own choosing, although it is desirable that it be reviewed by the blacksmith's instructor.
Note: an Instructor does not have to host/teach further classes - they just are expected to be available and willing to help Beginner/Novice students. An instructor is expected to take Instructor refresher classes each year.
For insurance reasons, you must be a current CBA member to attend these workshops. Even with the $55.00 annual membership fee, the classes are some of the cheapest technical training around. They're also loads of fun! Call your nearest workshop contact and try hammering some hot iron.