If you are looking for an unconventional way to spend an evening, treat yourself—and perhaps a friend—to one of the blacksmithing or knifesmithing classes offered by Goat n Hammer. Housed in the sprawl of buildings and open spaces in West Midtown known as The Goat Farm, this one-of-a-kind forge offers a variety of classes for novices and experienced smiths alike. Your humble writer has attended two such workshops, one devoted to turning a railroad spike into a sharpened blade and the other a class wherein you create a knife out of more conventional bar stock. Reader, I enjoyed them.
First things first: you do NOT have to possess any previous knowledge about—or aptitude with—metals or forging or knives. I am as white collar as it gets but I had a blast. The classes are not cheap, however; entry-level workshops start at $125 per person but even at this price you are getting a good deal. The cost includes all the necessary tools and supplies (of course you get to take your creation home) and most workshops last around 5 hours. It is all very hands-on and physical. Be warned: you WILL go home dirty so wear appropriate attire.
Classes usually consist of 10 students, with two main instructors and an assistant. You can actually reserve the entire space for large events. The smiths, Mark J. Hopper and Jessica Collins, are incredibly talented and infinitely patient. In fact, they have earned some recent fame by appearing as contestants on the History Channel’s popular show Forged in Fire (tune in Tuesday, April 17th at 8pm EST to see their episode). During the workshops, the smiths showcase the necessary steps and then oversee and assist as students insert and retrieve glowing chunks of metal from the forge while hammering with appropriate techniques. In the final steps, they help you grind your profile before putting on the sharpened edge.
If you aren’t interested in blades (uh…why wouldn’t you be?), Goat n Hammer offers classes covering various foundational blacksmithing skills, from forging your own hammer to making more detailed items like leaves or even spoons. In order to progress and make more complex creations, however, you have to have completed a couple introductory courses. Which only makes sense since we aren’t talking about baking a cake here. Upper-level classes cost as much as $600 but these span several hours over a few days.
Because of the uptick in interest in blacksmithing—credited to the unlikely success of Forged in Fire—classes fill up early. I had to reserve mine a month in advance. New courses are being added often so do check their Website and Facebook often for updates.
Again, I can’t recommend this experience enough. You get to gain some aptitude in one of humanity’s oldest and most essential crafts while supporting local Atlanta artists. So step outside your comfort zone and into the heat at Goat n Hammer.