GRAND MARAIS, MN — About 30 years ago, Grand Marais had a few forest service buildings the city wanted to do something with, and in 1997, they were turned into the Northern House Folk School.
Now, students get to learn how to blacksmith at the site.
“We have hundreds of classes all year round and all different kinds of skills and crafts and traditions of northern cultures things like blacksmithing and rose mauling, timber framing, and boat building, and everything in between,” said Sarah Waddle, the Program Manager for North House Folk School.
The school offers both free and paid classes to learn different skills, and activities are offered for all age groups.
“This week we’ve had a Group of students learning about blacksmithing. Its the first time we’ve had a blacksmithing camp and its been A total ball. The kids have been having a blast,” said Waddle.
“We are basically just practicing all the basic skills of blacksmithing. So we have some real simple projects but we’re teaching all the ABC’s of techniques and blacksmithing,” says Cody Myers, the Blacksmith Instructor.
In modern day blacksmith shops, they’ll sometimes have access to power hammers and other power tools -but in this class, the only tools you have is your hammer and an arm to swing it.
In addition, tools aren’t the only old fashioned item here – the way the metal is heated up is also old school.
“Kids are actually using a traditional forge. So, its actually a handcranked blower that’s feeding air into the coal forges. A lot of modern Smiths will just use gas or propane forges.” said Myers.
The kids might be leaving the class with a decorative new ‘S’ hook they made, but what really matters is taking home the knowledge and experience of trying something new.
“I just want these kids to have fun and be creative. And bridging that gap of you know, the screen time and technology, Bridging that with making art and making things, trading stuff. I think that is my main goal, I think that’s the most important thing I can provide or facilitate for them.” said Myers.
Click here for information on the courses that are offered at the school.