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Blacksmithing taught at Glidden Homestead

Published: Saturday, June 15, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

“Blacksmiths Wanted” is not a common ad seen today, but that is just who the Joseph F. Glidden Homestead & Historical Center in DeKalb is looking for, including aspiring blacksmiths.

A blacksmith club has been formed at the national historic site where Joseph Glidden invented his popular style of barbed wire “The Winner” in 1873. The club provides living history demonstrations in the Phineas Vaughan Blacksmith Shop from May through November, at the Homestead, 921 W. Lincoln Highway, DeKalb.

Both experienced blacksmiths and those interested in learning the trade are welcome to become involved in this educational and rewarding endeavor.

The blacksmith shop once was as common as the gas station is today. The blacksmith shoed horses, fixed wagons and made anything out of iron that a household required. Today, few people recognize an anvil or know what it is used for. The Glidden Homestead is recreating that history and teaching the importance of the old-time trade to new generations.

The Glidden Blacksmith Club meets twice a month to hone skills and learn new techniques from experienced members. Club members provide demonstrations to the public during the Homestead’s regular tour season, make hand-crafted merchandise for the gift shop, and craft tools and other items to be used at the Homestead. Over the past winter the club crafted the 11-by-8-foot hand-forged iron sign frame recently installed at the entrance to the site.

Anyone who would like to learn more is invited to attend a club meeting. For details, contact info@gliddenhomestead.org or call 815-756-7904.

Blacksmith demonstrations, as well as tours of the Homestead, are open to the public on the second and fourth Sundays of the month June through October and at special events in May and November.

This season’s programming commemorates Joseph Glidden’s diverse contributions to the greater DeKalb community, with railroad programming on June 23, July 14 and July 28; a letterpress printing demonstration on Aug. 11; and special blacksmithing programming in October, including Blacksmithing for Kids on Oct. 13, in conjunction with the DeKalb Public Library’s Community Big Read of “True Grit.”

To learn more, visit www.gliddenhomestead.org.

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