Empowering The Artist Community Through Her Passion
When you feel like picking up a new hobby, forging is one experience that caught the interest of many Verlocal guests. Adam's Forge has made a successful entry to hosting a forgery experience. Guests have discovered a new passion for forgery in the Southern California area and returned for more courses and a wealth of knowledge from the experts and Adam's Forge. To tell you a little bit more, Heather from Adam's Forge is here to explain:
Hi Heather, please introduce yourself to our community and tell us more about the experiences that you offer through Verlocal?
Adam’s Forge is a non-profit blacksmithing school and cooperative in East Los Angeles. We offer classes, starting with our Discovery Class. That class is required before you can advance to other classes and the open forges we offer. Most of our instructors are volunteers, so everyone there is enthusiastic and motivated to help pass this amazing craft on to others.
Tell us about your background: When did you first become inspired to begin Adam's Forge?
I started in steel fabrication (cut & weld) in the theater in 1978. I was first conscious of forging about 1991 and started teaching myself from books. In 1992 I found ABANA, the national artist blacksmith group. I went to a conference where I first saw live blacksmiths forging and saw what was possible. I was hooked! In 2002 my friend, Bob Cooper, was starting Adam’s Forge and he asked me to be on the board. When he left, I was elected president of the board. It’s not what I meant to do but being involved with a group of others passionate about blacksmithing is compelling. Many exceptional smiths helped me along the way. Helping others learn about the craft completes the circle for me.
What does your passion mean to you?
Nearly everything. I get to do what I truly love every day. I get to use every part of myself in metalwork, my brain, my body, my imagination and creativity and my spirit. I also get to help other people try their hands at this incredible craft.
What made you want to pursue teaching the craft of forgery?
I hadn’t really wanted to teach but a friend talked me into teaching at her place. I found out how much fun it was to see the experience of hitting hot steel light a spark with some students. When I am able to pass my love of blacksmithing on to others it is so energizing. I also have found that having to put techniques I do intuitively now into words makes me understand the material more deeply.
How would you describe the link between your classes and the community around you?
Besides classes, we try to link with our surrounding community in other ways as well. We do demonstrations for the public and for schools. We have a special program for Wounded Warriors that we’re excited about. We offer private classes and parties. Students share their experiences with us with their friends and family so there is a ripple effect.
Tell us about your favorite moment/ biggest achievement since you started teaching your classes.
There are many. When I see a student who surpasses my work, that is incredibly gratifying. Our Artist in Residence, Aram Nigoghosian, started learning to forge with us. Now he’s really a skilled blacksmith. He makes incredible tools and is a superb instructor. He fell in love with blacksmithing with us and has changed his career.
What are your most popular class and the story behind it?
Besides the Discovery Class (which everyone must take) any class to make “sharp pointy things” is super popular. With the popularity of “Forged in Fire” and video games with a blacksmith character, lots of people have an awareness of bladesmithing now.
What are some insider tips for a beginner looking to attend one of your classes?
Sign up for any Discovery Class. They are our most popular offering since you have to start with that class. If you are able to come during the week, those classes are easier to get into than the ones on the weekend. You can sign up with friends but if they are dragging their feet, sign up yourself and make them jealous when you show them what you made!
Share one quote that resonates with you the most and what it means for you?
"Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray." ~ Rumi.
I think it speaks for itself. As it turns out, I had been following his advice throughout my life. I consider myself to be incredibly lucky.