Blacksmithing is an ancient craft that is sometimes considered an art. Since ancient times, blacksmiths have been honored members of the community, since the creation of metalwork pots, farm implements, knives, and gates was their domain. It is still possible in the modern era to become a blacksmith, through many years of education and study. While less in demand since the invention of assembly lines and industrial machinery, blacksmiths are still capable of creating beautiful, durable, and unique metalwork that stands as a testament to this ancient craft.
A place to start on the road to become a blacksmith is by doing some research. There are many interesting books and websites that detail the history of the trade, as well as some basic guides that introduce new smiths to the terminology, tools, and possibilities of metalworking. Doing some initial research can help give aspiring smiths a feel for the history and importance of the craft, as well as provide some basic introductory information as to how smithing is done.
Another important preparatory step for anyone planning to become a blacksmith is to get in good physical shape. Blacksmiths haul around a lot of heavy metal, use very heavy tools, and frequently work in extremely hot smithies. For people with health concerns, such as heart or muscular problems, consulting a doctor before trying to become a blacksmith may be recommended. Strength training programs can help get a person in shape to become a blacksmith, while classes such as hot yoga can help train a person to safely engage in physical exertion in a hot room.
Though few colleges offer a bachelor's degree in blacksmithing, there are some vocational and trade school courses that can train a person to become a blacksmith. These are not widespread, and may require a willingness to travel to attend classes. Some offer an introductory training course that takes place over a few weeks or weekends; this may be a good place to test out an interest in the field without committing to a long program of training.
Aspiring blacksmiths will likely need to purchase some tools and protective gear for their training and professional career. If attending classes, ask for a list of equipment that will be useful during training. Schools and training courses can also be a good resource for finding vendors that sell blacksmithing gear.
Training to become a blacksmith may take several years, and may include specialized training in many different aspects of the craft, including forging, welding, and finishing various metalwork pieces. Some training courses may require a blacksmith to complete a special final product, or master's piece, that shows off his or her technique, creative ability, and personal style. While a blacksmith may not receive an official degree upon completion of a master's piece, he or she may then get the blessing of the school to set up a professional practice.
Following education, a blacksmith will need to set up his or her own forge, decide what products or services to offer, and advertise to the public. Some blacksmiths work purely for their own enjoyment, making exquisite pieces for friends and families. Others find work creating replica or vintage-inspired metalwork to sell to history enthusiasts. Much as he must forge his own crafts, a modern blacksmith must decide how to forge his own career to satisfy both artistic and financial goals.