List of Tinsmithing Classes in the USA [Updated]


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List of Tinsmithing Classes in the USA 2021 [Updated]

tinsmithing classes in America
Tinsmithing classes in the Midwestern, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern regions of America are helping to revive the traditional craft and preserve the knowledge of past generations.

Tinsmithing is a traditional metalworking craft that was popular throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Tinsmithing historically involved working with cold metal to create items like tea pots, lanterns, candle holders, and other useful and decorative home items.

Tinsmithing, like blacksmithing and other trades, was essential to the development of towns and cities in early American history. Tinsmiths made new items to sell in their shops and repaired products for customers. Because tinsmiths worked with relatively few small and portable tools, the craft grew in popularity amongst youth needing to learn a trade.

By the 19th century, tinsmithing had reached its height of popularity and influence in America. By the end of the 1800s, goods that were traditionally crafted by hand could now be made cheaply and efficiently through large-scale manufacturing and tinsmith shops disappeared from most communities.

Today, folk schools and historical organizations across the Midwestern, Mid-Atlantic, and Southern regions of the United States continue to offer tinsmithing classes and workshops for individuals interested in learning this traditional craft. A renewed interest in slow, intentional craftsmanship is helping to revive tinsmithing and other metalworking professions.

If you are interested in learning tinsmithing for yourself, check out the following classes being offered in 2021.

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1) North House Folk School

  • Type: Tinsmithing
  • Classes: small group courses, 3-5 days
  • Price: N/A
  • Website: https://northhouse.org/courses/tinsmithing
  • Telephone: (218) 387-9762
  • Location: 500 W Hwy 61 Grand Marais, MN 55604

North House Folk School’s mission is to build community by teaching traditional northern crafts. Founded in 1997, the Folk School originally taught Indigenous and Scandinavian practical arts and has since then expanded their curriculum to provide a large catalogue of class opportunities for community members and visitors.

North House is the northernmost location for learning tinsmithing in the United States. Those living in the upper Midwest may find that this is the most convenient and scenic place to learn tinsmithing.

Tinsmithing classes at North House Folk School offer a mix of detailed instruction, demonstrations, and hands-on learning time. Students learn soldering and techniques like wiring, burring, and double seaming using vintage tinning tools.

Materials used include traditional hot-dipped tinplate, copper, and brass. Students get to choose the projects they complete. Some example options are lanterns, candle holders, flour scoops, and more.

Classes are appropriate for students of all skill levels, and those with more experience are welcome to choose more ambitious projects to work on throughout the course.


2) Adirondack Folk School

  • Type: Tinsmithing
  • Classes: small group, 1 day,
  • Price: $52-$120 (discounted rate for Folk School members)
  • Website: https://www.adirondackfolkschool.org/afs/index.php?m=CatPage&catid=28
  • Telephone: (518) 696-2400
  • Location: 51 Main Street Lake Luzerne, NY 12846

Adirondack Folk School opened in 2010 and has been teaching traditional arts and crafts ever since. The inspiration for the Folk School came after a Lake Luzerne resident named Jim Mandle visited North House Folk School and wanted to recreate the learning environment in New York.

Classes at Adirondack Folk School include American Tinsmithing Basics and Tin Ornaments. Both classes are small group, single day experiences covering the fundamentals of tinsmithing

Students interested in historical tinsmithing will enjoy learning about 19th century techniques in American Tinsmithing Basics. Projects completed include candle sticks and wall sconces. Layout work, cutting, forming, assembly and soldering are taught.

Tin Ornaments focuses on tinsmithing Christmas decorations and is fun for the whole family! Metal ornament shapes include icicles, snowflakes, angels, and your own designs. This class is perfect for complete beginners with an interest in modern applications of tinsmithing.


3) Tillers International

  • Type: Tinsmithing
  • Classes: small group, 2 day, full day, weekend
  • Price: $295
  • Website: http://www.tillersinternational.org/classes?category=Tinsmithing
  • Telephone: (269) 626-0223
  • Location: 10515 OP Ave E Scotts, MI 49088

Tillers International is a non profit organization founded in 1981 that works to improve the lives of those working in agriculture. While much of their work happens overseas, Tillers International also offers an array of classes at their headquarters in Scotts, Michigan.

Three tinsmithing classes are currently available at Tillers. Basic Tinsmithing is a beginner friendly class in which students learn techniques together while completing an easy project. Once the basics have been learned, students go on to complete a project of their choice.

Tinsmithing: Coffee and Tea Pots examines different styles of coffee and tea pots from the 18th century and the construction methods used to create them. Students work through projects based on real historical artifacts. This class would be ideal for anyone interested in 18th century history or the history of tinsmithing generally.

Tinsmithing: Pattern Layout focuses on how to develop and layout project patterns to improve overall tinsmithing skills. Parallel and radial line development and other concepts are covered to ensure a complete understanding of tinsmithing design and construction.


4) John C. Campbell Folk School

  • Type: Tinsmithing
  • Classes: small group, weekend, weeklong
  • Price: $354-$630
  • Website: https://classes.folkschool.org/Browse.aspx
  • Telephone: (800) 365-5724
  • Location: One Folk School Road Brasstown, NC 28902

The John C. Campbell Folk School has been teaching people traditional crafts for 95 years. The School aims to promote creativity, self-discovery, and community through education in a non-competitive learning environment that welcomes students of all ages and abilities.

Tinsmithing classes at the Folk School are highly varied, so there are options for beginner, intermediate, and advanced alike! Weekend and week long classes are available, so whether you just want to give tinsmithing a try, or are serious about learning the craft at a deeper level, there is something for you at the Folk School.

Beginners may be interested in the Weekend Tinsmithing course, which focuses on 19th century techniques, pattern layouts, and tools. Students get to make simple items like lanterns and cups.

Tinsmithing Basics also teaches tinsmithing from the 1800s, but does so over a full week, allowing students to dive into tinsmithing and complete a number of projects. Examples of projects include scoops, sconces, cups, coffee pots, dustpans, and candle sticks.

Another course offered this year is Today’s Tinsmithing, which examines both historical and modern tinsmithing. Students learn to make a pierced tin lantern and are free to experiment with other projects as time allows.

The John C. Campbell Folk School has an extensive list of 2021 classes available now on their website. Tinsmithing classes are available later in the year, so research your favorite and reserve your spot early!


5) Burritt Folk School

  • Type: Tinsmithing
  • Classes: small group, 2 day, full day
  • Price: $145
  • Website: https://burrittonthemountain.com/burritt-folk-school/
  • Telephone: (256) 536-2882
  • Location: 3101 Burritt Drive SE Huntsville, AL 35801

Burritt Folk School is part of the larger Burritt on the Mountain historical site. The site includes the Burritt mansion and other historical buildings that make up a living history park. It is the perfect place to learn a traditional craft like tinsmithing.

Burritt Folk School is offering one tinsmithing class this year taught by Pat McMillion. She is an award winning teacher who learned tinsmithing in 2003. Reproduction historical items are her specialty, so if you are interested in historical tinsmithing, McMillion is the perfect teacher for you!

Her class focuses on the basics of patterns, cutting, soldering. Students make lanterns, sconces, holiday decor, candle holders, and other items based on actual historical artifacts.


6) Somerset Historical Center

  • Type: Tinsmithing
  • Classes: small group workshops, 1 day
  • Price: N/A
  • Website: https://www.somersethistoricalcenter.org/welcome.html
  • Telephone: (814) 445-6077
  • Location: 10649 Somerset Pike Somerset, PA 15501

The Somerset Historical Center is a non profit organization dedicated to teaching the public about the history of rural southwestern Pennsylvania. The 150 acre history museum teaches visitors through exhibits, workshops, and other interactive experiences.

Classes in tinsmithing and other traditional crafts take place in the Haupt Education Center on the property in the hope of passing down historical knowledge to future generations.

Tinsmithing classes cover beginner concepts and are therefore best for those completely new to the craft. Skills like pattern layout, cutting, riveting, and soldering are taught.

Call or email the Somerset Historical Center for more information on tinsmithing classes and availability in 2021.


7) Historic Cold Spring Village

  • Type: Tinsmithing
  • Classes: small group, demonstrations
  • Price: N/A
  • Website: https://hcsv.org/learn/workshops-classes/
  • Telephone: 609-898-2300
  • Location: 720 US 9, Cape May, NJ 08204

Historic Cold Spring Village is a non profit living museum that aims to educate the public on early American history, preserve historical artifacts and knowledge, and encourage tourism.

Tinsmithing classes are offered at Historic Cold Spring Village and are suitable for beginner students. Contact the Village for more information and the 2021 class schedule.


8) Fort Meigs

  • Type: Tinsmithing
  • Classes: small group, full day, one day
  • Price: $55-$60 (discounted price for Ohio History Connection members)
  • Website: https://www.fortmeigs.org/tinsmith/
  • Telephone: (419) 874-4121
  • Location: 29100 W. River Rd. Perrysburg, OH 43551

Fort Meigs is a living history museum dedicated to educating the public about Ohio’s participation in the War of the 1812. While the original fort was torn down over 200 years ago, a reconstruction of the site was completed in the 2000s and now serves to teach about early 19th century American history.

Besides reenactments and self guided tours, Fort Meigs also hosts workshops for blacksmithing, tinsmithing, and other occupations that would have been essential to the survival of the Fort.

Tinsmithing workshops at Fort Meigs are ideal for students interested in 18th and 19th century tinsmithing and who want to learn the trade in a historical setting. While the workshop may be too simple for seasoned tinsmiths, it is a great way for beginners to learn and get excited about the practical applications of tinsmithing.

Skills taught include using hand tools, stakes, and forms, laying out patterns, and constructing simple items.

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