Artist Blacksmith Curriculum

Haliburton School of Art + Design

Accepting Applications for September 2023

See curriculum for: January 2024
Credential: Ontario College Certificate ( 1 semester )
Classes begin:
September 05, 2023
Offered at:
Haliburton Campus
Program code:
Tuition & Ancillary Fees:
$4,687.33 (includes fees and supplies)*
$14,857.13 (includes fees and supplies)*
* Tuition and fees subject to change.

Vocational Learning Outcomes

  • Use the principles and elements of two and three-dimensional design in the conception, construction and assessment of metal works.
  • Use knowledge of key artists, movements, and innovation in both contemporary and historical blacksmithing to inspire and inform design decisions.
  • Produce diagrams and drawings appropriate to all stages of a blacksmithing project.
  • Use knowledge of the characteristics, properties, qualities and behaviours of metals in the design, formation, and assessment of ironwork.
  • Manipulate iron/steel to produce objects for both artistic and utilitarian purposes.
  • Use safe practices in all aspects of the blacksmith studio including tools, equipment, materials, and shared working spaces.
  • Critically analyze both the form and content/meaning of metal works through verbal and written processes.
  • Identify personal interests that may indicate the beginnings of personal style and goals in metalwork designs.
  • Use a studio journal to systematically record thoughts, ideas, stimuli, processes and formulas for blacksmithing projects.
  • Develop a basic portfolio and artists documents for applications to further learning, grants, commissions and juried shows.

Courses and Descriptions

Semester 1

Units/ Hours: 47.5

In this course students will learn the language of shop/technical drawings in order to interpret, communicate, and produce designs for forged work. Students will apply their existing knowledge of the elements and principles of design to a specified project. Focus will be given to the value of exploring various design concepts and details through the drawing process, developing the work according to the drawings, and successfully critiquing both the form and meaning of the finished piece.

Units/ Hours: 95

In the five weeks of Blacksmithing Projects, the student will design, execute, and critically examine a series of projects, progressing in scale and complexity, both functional and sculptural. Design criteria will include considerations such as structural integrity, functionality, aesthetics, style, theme, and meaning. Critical discussion will accompany demonstrations of various alternatives in forging techniques as students work through the development of their projects and considerations in design choices. This course affords the opportunity to build stronger and more varied skills in traditional forging processes and techniques. It will also introduce a greater level of practice in contemporary fabrication processes such as welding, grinding and sanding of hand forged elements as well as assembly skills to complete this focused experience in the planning, execution and finishing of assembled ironworks.

Units/ Hours: 142.5

This course is a continuation of Projects I, with a continued focus on the improvement of skills in design and execution for ornamental ironworks.

ARTS 970
Units/ Hours: 47.5

This course will introduce students to the basic design process as applied to forged metal objects. Line, texture, symmetry, balance, and proportion will be emphasized in their relation to the size, location, and function of an object when it is being designed. Students will research, present and critique the designs of artist-blacksmiths from specific eras, identifying elements of their style and its relation to the architectural style and use of technology.

ARTS 969
Units/ Hours: 47.5

It is important that the artist blacksmith is able to visualize ideas, prepare design proposals and create scaled shop drawings for production purposes, whether for tools required in the shop or commissioned pieces for clients. This course gives students a solid foundation in drawing techniques and processes in conjunction with a basic use of the elements of design. Using a variety of drawing tools and surfaces, students will produce both representational and concept drawings. Linear perspective and basic composition including spiral and scroll design will be addressed. Several natural and manufactured subjects will be studied including the human figure, giving students a source of ideas and references for the program.

Units/ Hours: 47.5

Students will engage in the traditional art of blacksmithing with focus on fundamental forging processes and continued discussions on hammer selection. Hammering technique and heat-treating will be applied to the fabrication of utilitarian tools, as well as a range of small forged samples. These exercises will launch a growing appreciation for the key properties and behaviors of ferrous metals. The management of a coke fire, the use of propane forges, as well as maintenance of the studio equipment and tools will be addressed throughout the course. Special attention to safe practices will continue as a vital part of all aspects of the blacksmiths studio. Critical discussion as well as research and presentations will engage the student group in ongoing assessment of studio samples and exercises.

Units/ Hours: 95

Fundamental forging processes will continue throughout this two-week course. Students will continue building their blacksmithing knowledge by refining their skills and focusing on attention to detail. Through traditional assigned projects, students will begin to understand many of the key traditional fundamentals that are applied to both tool making and assigned projects. Use and comparisons of both coke fire and propane forges will be discussed. Special attention to safe practices will continue is a vital part of all aspects of the Blacksmiths studio. Critical discussion as well as research and presentations will engage the student group as exercise and skill expectations increase.

Units/ Hours: 47.5

Students will begin their blacksmithing experience by learning proper use and safety for all tools in the hot shop. Special attention will be given to specialized equipment, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and how to work within a hot studio safely. Setting up their personal workspace will include anvil height adjustments, ergonomics and discussions on hammer selection. Students will have opportunity to experiment with different hammers as they complete exercises.

Units/ Hours: 47.5

This survey provides an introduction to the major periods and styles of ornamental ironwork from 3500 BC to modern times. It traces developments of metal as an art form in historic and contemporary forged work and focuses on the impact that individual modern blacksmiths have made. Through lectures, research, and presentations, students will form an important frame of reference for recognizing and identifying the various ways in which iron has been forged and assembled. This framework will provide students with a vocabulary with which to articulate their own interests in the development of personal goals and styles in metalwork designs.

Units/ Hours: 47.5

Practicing artists can choose from many different paths to advance their personal and artistic goals in artistic practice, education, presentation skills, and promotion and marketing as entrepreneurs. Each student will establish their own specific focus for continuing their artist's practice. In class sessions will involve online research, writing, digital photography, presentation, and critical discussion. Pre-course assignment work will provide the data for artist documents and digital images of their work for the development of a portfolio. Students will show their work in an established campus venue as a culmination to their certificate program experience. Certificate students who have already completed the first two semesters of the Visual and Creative Arts Diploma Program will complete this course mainly as independent review and revision of their portfolio and artists documents in collaboration with faculty.