Secrets and Science of Bloomery Iron Smelting and Hearth Steel Making
Class runs: September 9-13 (catalog dates are a typo, sorry)
Material fee: $80
Skill level: Beginner and up
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In this course we'll explore the art and science of bloomery smelting.
***NEW***On the last day, time, energy and interest permitting we can also cover one or two of the several methods to convert bloom iron into hardenable steel.
Bloomery smelting is the pre-industrial method of winning iron from its ore. We'll discuss charcoal-making, ore preparation, and the theory of the process. Then we'll build our furnaces, smelt the ore to a metallic "bloom", and then forge that iron.
We will work in teams of three to four people per furnace, and the participants will share out the resulting iron. With luck and hard work, each team should be able to do two smelts. On the last day, time, energy and interest permitting we can also cover one or two of the several methods to convert bloom iron into hardenable steel.
No particular skill level is required for this course, though a little experience with forge welding will help you during the bloom forging. The main requirement for this course is the ability to work long hours. The work is not terribly strenuous, but it is rather relentless. But you will be rewarded with the thrill of transforming a stone into a metal.
Lee has been blacksmithing since 1974, and working as a full-time professional smith since 1981. Since 1998 his focus and passion has been rediscovering the lost art of bloomery smelting, and making sculpture from the resulting iron. He has shared his knowledge in workshops and demonstrations from California to Maine, and overseas in England, Italy, Burkina Faso, and Sudan. His work has been published in both art magazines and scientific journals. He lives and works at the end of a long dirt road on the south slope of House Mountain in Rockbridge County, Virginia.