FREEPORT – Since 2008, Wes Robinson of Freeport has taken people back in time in an old barn transformed into a blacksmith shop.
This is not a shop used to make horseshoes, but works of art – from garden trowels to hanging ornamental pieces and jewelry.
Robinson joined forces with retired art teacher Eric Donaldson to hold classes in artistic blacksmithing at the barn on Henderson Road east of Freeport. Fires from the stoves and the kiln heat the place up on cool fall days.
“The blacksmithing course is designed to introduce new smiths to the exciting world of artistic blacksmithing,” Robinson said. “We combine ages-old, traditional techniques with both modern and time-honored equipment. The prospective student may hope to create some basic projects with their own individual flair.”
Students in the class can explore projects such as coat hooks with decorative leaf elements, garden trowels with a twist and fireplace equipment.
“Students will get an idea of how to build or create functional objects with an artistic bent to them,” he added.
Donaldson, who does a lot of the teaching for the classes, is a member of the Upper Midwest Blacksmith Association and the Artistic Blacksmith Association of North America. He’s practiced blacksmithing techniques for the past 12 years, getting a Master’s of Fine Arts degree in jewelry and metal working from Northern Illinois University.
“I basically attended a workshop in blacksmith techniques and fell in love with the art,” Donaldson said. “This is not the type of blacksmithing from back in the day, it’s art. But the techniques remain the same.”
Robinson said his love for the art form is a tribute to his father and grandfather, who used to forge in a barn. He said he remembers a time when anything could be fixed or restored through blacksmithing.
Mike King of Dakota started the classes for something to do during his retirement years. The art of blacksmithing has always intrigued him.
“I have grand ideas of what I want to learn by taking the classes,” King said. “I started the learning process about a year ago. It seemed easy enough to do with low expectations, but I am doing OK. I have my own forge at my home.”
Source: The (Freeport) Journal-Standard, http://bit.ly/1gRDTqz
Information from: The Journal-Standard, http://www.journalstandard.com/jshome.taf
This is an Illinois Exchange story shared by The (Freeport) Journal-Standard.