Wild Iron

Wild Iron:  Smelting and Geological Connections with Jeffrey Funk and Nick Tomlin

Session 3 June 14th through June 14th

In this workshop we’ll explore the elemental process of making wrought iron from ore using the bloomery process The class will involve collecting ore from an abandoned mining area in central Montana, digging native clay for building the furnaces, and making charcoal from wood harvested on the school property. We will focus on cultivating an intimacy with the materials used, and awareness of where the essential ingredients originate. Participants will engage in a process that for much of mankind’s history (before centralized industry) was a community scale endeavor to produce an essential material.

Participants are not required to have previous experience in either blacksmithing or smelting, but everyone does need to be in good physical condition, prepared for the labor-intensive work of collecting and processing materials for smelting. The class will take a two to three-day field trip to get ore, sand, and clay. We’ll be camping one or two nights during that trip, so be prepared to rough it just a little. The field trip through some of the breathtaking mountains and valleys of Montana is core part of the workshop, providing geological and social context. We will visit two, perhaps three different mining areas, and also spend part of a day in Butte, a city whose identity is deeply connected with metals mining and processing.

All skill levels.