Working with metal is unlike most other crafts. You need heat to manipulate it and often are working with material that requires both expensive tools and safety equipment. Therefore, finding classes can be more challenging than, say, quilting or pottery.
However, once you’ve made something so strong bend to your creative will, you may wonder what took you so long to seek it out. Like with most crafts, a community forms in the very act of making, and working with metal is no different.
Denise Schreiner, vice president of Durham’s Liberty Arts board, calls the foundry and sculpture studio “a very interactive space.” She explained: “You’ve got woodworkers interacting with ceramicists and exchanging ideas and tools and inspiration.” As those ideas are exchanged, friendships are created and skills are taught, allowing for the growth of community as well as knowledge.
In Raleigh, ShopSpace will be opening its doors in early summer. It was co-founded by blacksmith Lucas House, general contractor Dave Nicolay and metalsmith Mary Catherine Floyd. Nicolay said ShopSpace hopes to fill a unique niche that gives people access to the space and tools they wouldn’t otherwise have. House says the creation of the space is due to an increasing number of people asking where they can learn skills such as blacksmithing. Given his love of teaching, they decided to open something on a small scale. ShopSpace will hold an open house noon-3 p.m. April 16, including demonstrations, a chance for the public to try out the tools and raise money for the space.
Beyond those two options, the Cary Arts Center and the N.C. State University Crafts Center also offer classes. Here are details:
Cary Arts Center
Info: 101 Dry Ave., Cary, 919-469-4069, nando.com/caryarts
Cary Arts Center offers classes for individuals ranging from young children to adults. Prices listed are for Cary residents; they are slightly more for nonresidents. Metal Mania, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays (May 10-24), $49, ages 12-16; Metals and Jewelry Concentration, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Tuesdays (April 5-May 3), $101, ages 16 and up. Cary Arts Center also offers summer camps for ages 11-16, which include Metalsmithing Boot Camp, 9 a.m.-noon June 20-24, $90; Glass vs. Metals, 1-4 p.m. July 11-15, $92; and Sculpturing Metal, 1-4 p.m. July 25-29, $90.
Info: Raleigh, 919-345-6359, ShopSpace.org
ShopSpace is a new community resource started by local metalworkers that will offer the tools, the space and the knowledge to build things. They will be teaching one-time introductory classes in welding and forging as well as regular intermediate classes where students can make things like yard ornaments, furniture and architectural details.
Info: 923 Franklin St., Durham, 919-260-2931, liberty-arts.org
Liberty Arts is a sculpture studio and foundry with a mission to offer arts experiences to the public. They host an open house 6-9 p.m. the third Friday of every month, providing the public a chance to tour the space and watch artists create work. One-day welding: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 16, May 7 and June 4; one-day plasma cutting and metal working: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. April 23, May 21 and June 25; six-week clay-metal fusion: 3-6 p.m. Tuesdays, May 24-June 28; four-week beginning casting: 4:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, April 12- May 3, May 17-June 7 and June 21-July 12; four-week intermediate mold making: 4:30-7:30 p.m. Thursdays, April 14-May 5, May 19-June 9 and June 23-July 14.
N.C. State University Crafts Center
Info: Thompson Hall, 210 Jensen Drive, Raleigh, 919-515-2457, crafts.arts.ncsu.edu
The N.C. State University Crafts Center offers classes in a range of mediums, including jewelry design classes that teach how to work with things like acetylene torches and hydraulic presses. The summer class brochure will go online April 4, with registration for N.C. State students beginning April 11 and for the public May 2. Classes this summer include Mixed Metal Rings, Hydraulic Press Bootcamp and Chain Making.
Betsy Greer writes about craft and activism at craftivism.com. Reach her at email@example.com.