1. I am very interested in learning this art, however I have NO experience whatsoever. Is this program for me?
If you have never done any blacksmithing before, we strongly recommend you take a weekend class to see if you truly want to do this. The art form is exciting but the reality is that it is hard work. Even if you don’t take a weekend class with us, try it somewhere. If you were interested in coming to us for a weekend, I would recommend one of the skills based classes: Grilling Tools, Leaves & Twists, Fall Leaves, Floral Forms, Damascus, Campfire Cookset. If you take a class somewhere else, we would still recommend you come to the shop to meet Mr. Morse and see the facility. It is possible that our facility and personalities are not a fit for you and we’d like you to have that knowledge before you commit your time and money.
2. How far can I expect to progress in this field? What is a Level 1 artistic blacksmithing certificate exactly? Is it recognized by other craftsmen?
The Level 1 certificate was created to teach students the fundamentals of blacksmithing so that they can join an established shop with the knowledge of how to work productively in a blacksmith shop. We have had students start their own businesses after the program and accept commissions. We cannot guarantee job placement as the skill level of the student at the end of the program is dependent on the work put in mixed with innate talent. The certificate is “new” to the State Council of Higher Education and therefore there are many artisans who don’t know it exists yet. What artisans would recognize are the techniques you would have had to use to produce the items you would present in your portfolio. (We strongly encourage creating a portfolio of work throughout the year.) This program was created to answer the call that a productive shop cannot take on the liability of a new person who wants to learn. An established shop needs to generate income, not new smiths. We are a teaching shop and we focus on cultivating new smiths.
3. Are there any other lab times available in case I am working on a Friday?
We have recently discussed opening the shop on alternate days for lab time. In the past, that flexibility has been granted for lab time as needed for students in situations similar to yours. If you cannot make class time, you would need to drop out of the program. That part is non-negotiable.
4. Do you take the GI Bill?
Yes, we are approved to accept the GI bill for this program for eligible veterans.
This Institution is approved to offer GI Bill® educational benefits by the Virginia State Approving Agency. GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.
5. What does it cost?
Each course is $525. There are 12 courses in the program for a total of $6300 for the Certificate. Each $525 payment is due prior to each course beginning. We do not wish for you to pay in a large chunk. We have about a 40% attrition rate. We only want you to pay for the courses you expect to complete. The courses need to be taken in sequential order and passed to be allowed to continue.