Learning As A Lifestyle – Blacksmithing and Blooming Festival

3-20-2015 10-33-56 AMOn March 14, the Center for Lifelong Learning held our third “Basic Blacksmith” class at Travis Fleming’s workshop. Seven students learned the basic steps to blacksmithing and made coat racks for their hands-on project. That does not sound like much, but it is pretty impressive because it is just the beginning.

A blacksmith works with metal to create objects from wrought iron or steel by shaping the metal, using tools to hammer, bend, and cut. Blacksmiths produce objects like gates, grilles, railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, agricultural implements, decorative and religious items, cooking utensils and weapons. A blacksmith should not be confused with a farrier. A farrier is a specialist in equine hoof care.

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Our Blacksmith instructors are Travis Fleming, from Artist Anvil, and Al Stephens, from Pequea Valley Forge. Both of our instructors are very talented and have a lot of experience with this craft. Fleming has been making iron leaves for more than two decades. He is a member of the Athens Blacksmiths, a chapter of the Alabama Forge Council. Stephens does custom ironwork in his workshop behind his home. His handcrafted products are sold in 41 states.

Stephens is the designer of our new Intermediate Project, an adjustable candlestick. Students need to take the Basic Blacksmith or a Blacksmith Project class before they take the Intermediate class. We are offering the Blacksmith Project class on Saturday, April 18, from 8:00am to 3:00pm. Class is held in the blacksmith workshop located at 208 Commercial Dr, Athens. The fee is $79. You can register online or by calling 256-233-8262.

3-20-2015 10-34-17 AMThe Intermediate Project will be offered Saturday, May 2, from 8:00am to 4:00pm, at the same location. The fee for the Intermediate Project will be $89. All materials are included in our classes.

Blacksmith activities can be inherently dangerous due to hot metal, sparks, sharp objects, welding and grinding operations, as well as other activities. Students should wear long sleeves and bring leather gloves to protect their hands.

On Monday, March 23, I will be taking a group of 38 to Savannah, GA, Jekyll Island, and Beaufort, SC. We will travel together for five days and I know we will have a great time. Expect lots of pictures in the next article.

Our next trip is a one-day trip to Cullman for the Bloomin’ Festival on April 18. The Annual Bloomin’ Festival is a two day juried arts festival attracting thousands of visitors to the beautiful campus of St. Bernard Abbey and Prep School. This trip includes a visit to the world famous Ave Maria Grotto (Little Jerusalem). The picturesque landscape of stone cut buildings on the grounds of Alabama’s only Abbey provides a backdrop for the out-of-doors show. More than 140 booths are filled with artists demonstrating and exhibiting their work.

We will depart the Center for Lifelong Learning at 9:00am for the event. The fee for this tour is $55 and includes transportation, entry tickets to festival and grotto. Lunch is on your own. Call 256-233-8260 for more information.

Won’t you join us as we learn more every day?
Center for Lifelong Learning – 121 South Marion Street, Athens, AL 35611 – 256-233-8262
By: Wanda Campbell

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