Blacksmithing Classes in Illinois 2020 [Updated]


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List of Blacksmithing Classes in Illinois 2020 [Updated]

blacksmithing classes in Illinois and Chicago
Towns just outside Chicago and across the state of Illinois take pride in showcasing their blacksmithing traditions.

The state of Illinois has a rich history of blacksmithing and has played a large role in the revival of blacksmithing as the craft we know today. Illinois and its major city, Chicago, owe their growth, in part, to pioneer blacksmiths who helped settle the state.

Small pioneer towns would not have survived without the expertise of a blacksmith. These craftsmen were jacks of all trades within midwestern settlements and were relied upon for a variety of vital services and tools.  

While Illinois’s history would not be the same without blacksmithing, neither would the state’s future. The artisan blacksmithing movement that continues to gain popularity today largely formed from the educational programs at Southern Illinois University. The school boasts famous alumni within the trade who brought various Japanese styles of metalworking to America and helped transform blacksmithing into the art form it is today. 

If you want to get involved in Illinois’s rich tradition of blacksmithing and see for yourself the history and future of the craft in the state, check out the following organizations, businesses, and demonstrations.

Forged a Guide to Becoming a Blacksmith
  • Hoffman, Liam (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 162 Pages - 08/25/2017 (Publication Date) - CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Publisher)

1) Hot Iron Blacksmith

  • Type: Blacksmithing
  • Classes:Small group-4 students, full day, 1-2 days
  • Price: $100
  • Website: https://www.hotironblacksmith.com/
  • Telephone: (309) 579-2007
  • Location: 12000 N. Riverview Rd., Chillicothe, Il. 61523

Hot Iron Blacksmith shop is owned by Bud Harvey, a blacksmith artist with training from Oregon State University. He continues his education by studying under master blacksmiths from around the world. Harvey is also a past president of the Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association. 

With all of his credentials and experience, Harvey offers world-class instruction for beginner through advanced students. Classes emphasize techniques that will allow you to practice both hobby and artistic blacksmithing, so they are sure to meet the needs of a range of students. 

Harvey’s classes are unique in that he offers nine levels that build off the previous ones. This depth of instruction is rare outside of university programs, so if you are a blacksmith looking to really dive deep into the trade, this option may be a great fit for you. 

After learning the basic safety rules and blacksmithing techniques, you will then learn to create specific projects over the course of the day. Bud Harvey includes instruction in bottle openers, leaves, candle holders, curtain rods, hinges, tongs, hammers, and more. 

Perhaps the best part of taking beginner classes at Hot Iron Blacksmith is that the first two beginner programs fulfill the standard of the Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association. Advance your skills and your career by checking out Bud Harvey’s classes!


2) The Museums at Lisle Station Park

  • Type: Blacksmithing
  • Classes: Small group, 3 hour evening classes, 1-2 days
  • Price: $65-$120
  • Website: http://www.lisleparkdistrict.org/museumsatlislestationpark-blacksmithclasses.html
  • Telephone: (630) 968-0499
  • Location: 921 School Street, Lisle, IL 60532 (26 miles outside Chicago) 

The Museums at Lisle Station Park is a living history museum that features craftsmen and businesses as they would have been in the 19th century. Experiencing blacksmithing in such a historic and authentic setting can be inspiring and motivating for you as you grow into the craft and gain your blacksmith identity. 

The blacksmith working at Lisle Station Park offers classes several times per year, so call ahead or check out their website for information on current dates. Classes take place in the evening over one or two days, making them accessible to people who work or have busy schedules and cannot commit to weeklong or full day programs. 

Classes are geared towards beginner smiths, so if you are just starting out your blacksmithing journey or want to refine your basic skills with a professional, these classes allow you to do so. Skills such as fullering, punching holes, scrolling, bending, and tapering are covered and each class works towards crafting a project to take home. 

The blacksmithing classes at the Museums at Lisle Station Park are also really affordable compared to beginner offerings at other locations. It’s a good option for beginner blacksmiths who want to learn more about the trade without making a huge financial commitment right away.


3) Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association

  • Type: Blacksmithing
  • Classes: Demonstrations, open forge, conferences, meetings
  • Price: N/A
  • Website: http://illinoisblacksmith.org/
  • Telephone: (618) 254-9235
  • Location: McLean, IL 61754

The Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association is a great resource for Illinois blacksmiths of all skill levels. While traditional classes are not offered, the Association does host some awesome demonstrations, conferences, open forge nights, and meetings throughout the year. 

These events are great ways to meet fellow blacksmiths in your area, network, and hear the latest in the blacksmithing community. Plus, demonstrations can teach you new techniques that you can then try out from the comfort of your own home forge. 

Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association also lists current events on their website that may be of interest to members and non members such as open forge nights and classes from local blacksmith shops. Check out their website to see if there are any events near you that pique your interest.


4) Mt. Vernon’s Pioneer Village

  • Type: Blacksmithing
  • Classes: Open forge monthly
  • Price: N/A
  • Website: https://historicjeffersoncountyil.com/index.php/village
  • Telephone: (618) 246-0033
  • Location: 1411 N 27th St. Mt. Vernon, IL 62864

If you are an experienced blacksmith who already knows the basic skills and techniques but lacks a home setup, the Pioneer Village’s blacksmith shop in Mt. Vernon, IL may be a good place for you to forge new projects. 

The Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association hosts an open forge night on the second Saturday of each month, and visitors are welcome to join in this event. 

Open forge nights at Pioneer Village allow you to experience blacksmithing in a historical setting with authentic tools from the 1800s! Blacksmiths with an affinity for history and who want to learn more about their state’s blacksmith association will learn a lot from this opportunity.


5) Galena & U.S. Grant Museum

  • Type: Blacksmithing
  • Classes: Seasonal demonstrations, annual workshop
  • Price: $2-$4
  • Website: http://www.galenahistory.org/blacksmith-shop/
  • Telephone: (815) 777-1893
  • Location: 245 Commerce Street Galena, IL 61036

The Galena & U.S. Grant Museum offers several unique ways for blacksmiths and blacksmith enthusiasts to experience the craft from a historic perspective. The museum features a living history blacksmith shop run by Rich the Blacksmith, who demonstrates the trade from May through October. 

Rich shows his audiences how to make traditional blacksmith tools such as hammers and anvils, and explains the process of using ore, bellows, and the forge in general. This is a great, inexpensive way to see a master blacksmith at work and learn new tips and tricks in a fun setting. 

“The Other Side of the Anvil” is a two day blacksmithing workshop and music festival that takes place in October at the Museum’s blacksmith shop. Master smiths from across the Midwest gather to demonstrate their talent to visitors and answer questions. 

Visitors like you are allowed to set up their own forging station and work alongside the masters. This event is a great opportunity to meet and network with the region’s top blacksmiths.

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