The Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing is the only Artistic Blacksmithing school certified to operate by the State Council of Higher Education of Virginia. VIB offers classes for hobby blacksmiths as well as a Certificate of Artistic Blacksmithing for those who wish to pursue a career as an artistic blacksmith.
VIB’s one and two day blacksmithing classes do not require previous experience. These classes are geared towards the curious student who would like to try their hand at forging a variety of projects. The instructors focus on making sure each student has a good time working in the shop and leaves the course with a project that they have made themselves. VIB welcomes students as young as 10 years old with a guardian on premises.
“This was one of those “memory” weekends. My son and I enjoy doing things together and I know we will be talking about this (blacksmithing class) for a long time.” RP
VIB’s Certificate of Artistic Blacksmithing is a pioneering program to educate those who wish to gain the experience, techniques, and educational foundation to build a career as an Artistic Blacksmith. The year-long program is competency based and requires a minimum of 30 hours of shop time each month. This program was spearheaded by VIB’s Master Artisan, Dale Morse, to perpetuate the traditional art of forging handcrafted ironwork into the future. Students are accepted into the Certificate Program based on interest and skill. Previous experience with metals is suggested but not required.
Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing hosts world renowned blacksmiths approximately once per year. These high level courses are offered to expand experienced blacksmiths’ understanding of techniques and forms that they would not commonly be introduced to.
The Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing is located in a 4000 sq. ft. space in the South River Mill Complex in Waynesboro, Virginia. VIB is easily accessible from an access road in front of the building with parking directly in front of the entrance. VIB is easy to find with a large sign above the white, double exterior doors and an antique, red anvil to greet guests.
The Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing has 12 student forging stations complete with 12 anvils and shared worktables. The forges are coal fueled to expose modern students to the traditional techniques of the Artistic Blacksmith.
All hand tools at VIB are stored in a dedicated Tool Room where students are welcome to try out different hammers and tongs during their time in the shop. The course instructor or assistants may recommend tools for specific projects but student smiths are always welcome to try their own techniques. Hammer sizes range from 600 grams (1.3 lb) to the standard 1.1 kg (2.5 lb) or even 4.5 kg (10 lb) sledge hammers for very heavy hand work. There are many sizes of hammers to choose from and each student smith is encouraged to find the one that works for them at their current strength and endurance level.
To aid the student smith, there are two power hammers in the facility. There are also several modern tools for use when required by the project: Oxy-Acetylene torches, MIG Welders, Drill Presses, Grinders, Belt Sanders, Vertical and Horizontal Bandsaws, Metal Cutting Shear. ** The Instructor must train each student smith prior to use of any power tool.
Inside VIB, there is a separate room that houses the administrative offices. This room also serves as a classroom and discussion space. There are work tables, a white board, examples of metalwork, computer access, and WiFi is available. This room may serve as temporary storage for students who have items that need to be stowed during their time in the shop if the room is not being used for a class. Parents of young smiths may also watch their children from this room’s large picture windows.
The facility is not heated nor cooled therefore all attendees should dress appropriately.
To register for classes, click on Class Schedule and choose the course you are interested in. Registration is complete when payment is complete. Payment is made through PayPal on each course page.
The Virginia Institute of Blacksmithing is a member of the following groups: Shenandoah Valley Blacksmithing Guild, Central Virginia Blacksmithing Guild, Artisans Center of Virginia (ACV) and the Shenandoah Valley Art Center (SVAC).