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Daniel Quinn

aprenticeship

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I'm trying to find information about doing an apprenticeship or becoming a student in and of metalurgy, specifically forging and bladesmithing. I come from a southern connecticut family where anyhting but a liberal arts education is unaceptable. but swordmaking is somehting that has interested me since as long as i can remember, and have decided that it is something i wish to pursue, no matter how... remote or obscure my parents find it. if anyone has an idea where i could start looking to learn this trade, i would greatly appreciate it if you could email me back at beyonder4@yahoo.com   thnx very much, -D

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It is my understanding that the practice of the apprenticeship is for the most part a thing of the past. Very few people today are interested, nor can afford, the riggers of traditional apprenticeship. The ABANA has a Journeyman program that may meet your needs. The info can be found at: http://www.abana.org/resources/education/j...man/index.shtml.

 

However, there are other options. You might try the traditional college degree approach. Southern Illinois University at Carbondale offers both a Bachelors and a Master in Metal/Blacksmithing from SIU’s School of Art and Design. Their Web page is http://www.artanddesign.siu.edu/03programs/studpro.html. Tennessee Tech also offers a Bachelors program at http://www.tntech.edu/craftcenter/. There is also the John C. Campbell Folk School at http://www.folkschool.org/. The ABANA also list several schools on their web page that offer a blacksmithing program. (I believe there is blacksmithing school listed in Manchester, CT.)

 

Of course, there is also the American Bladesmith Society’s school. Their web page is http://www.americanbladesmith.com/.

 

You also might try a web search using keywords like, “Blacksmith,” “Bladesmithing,” and “Apprenticeship.”

 

I hope helps….

 

---tim---

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Guest Perkins
<font color='#000000'>I'm trying to find information about doing an apprenticeship or becoming a student in and of metalurgy, specifically forging and bladesmithing. I come from a southern connecticut family where anyhting but a liberal arts education is unaceptable. but swordmaking is somehting that has interested me since as long as i can remember, and have decided that it is something i wish to pursue, no matter how... remote or obscure my parents find it. if anyone has an idea where i could start looking to learn this trade, i would greatly appreciate it if you could email me back at beyonder4@yahoo.com   thnx very much, -D</font>

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I also come from a Southern Connecticut family where anything other than a college education is unnacceptable.

 

I, on the other hand, look at blacksmithing as only a pastime. I realize that I live in the 21st century, and look forward to getting a 21st century education.

 

If I was born 200 years ago and wanted to be a blacksmith, then fine. But in the modern world, I'd query as to whether there's even a great enough demand for handmade goods that you could make a good living off of it. (From what I've read of this forum, most of you are hobbying bladesmiths with part-time jobs or retired). Regardless, Southern Connecticut is not at all a cheap place to live.

 

Judging from the hypothetical way in which you posed your question ( have decided that it is something i wish to pursue, no matter how...), I'm going to make the assumption that you are around my age; that is, finishing high school.

 

And here comes the advice: I'd give very serious thought as to whether you want to do this professionally.

 

On the chance that (A) something happens to you or (B ) you get bored of bladesmithing, you'll want a back-up plan.

 

I suggest you put bladesmithing on the back burner for 4 years, go get your liberal arts education, and then do what you will then. College is awesome, and this is probably the only opportunity in your life to go to college with your parents paying (depends on your financial situation, of course).

 

Once your done, you'll have a lifetime to perfect swordmaking.

Edited by Perkins

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Perkins, that is really good advice. Thank you.

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Just my opinion...

 

College in general is a complete waste of money these days. Aside from the fact that most prospective employers like to see that you have a degree, they could care less what it is in. Something like 75% of all people with degrees end up in a field completely unrelated. If you're going to get one, at least get it in something that you're interested in... But *don't* go into debt for it. I was lucky enough to have a setllement from a car accident & went to a relatively cheap school to study jewelry & metalsmithing... which brings me to my next point, which is that yes, I went to art-school, and yes, it worked for me; but owing (ha ha,) to the increases in tuition I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless you can come out of it debt-free. When I started at my college, tuition was $8000 a year. It has gone up *at least* $1000 every year, like most colleges; now it's around $20,000, with other expenses coming to a total of $30,000 for four years. "Liberal arts," degrees are just as pointless, aside from reading some literature you could have read on your own anyway. :)

 

I have too many friends burdened by good degrees & great college loan payments; they still don't "get," jobs because of their degrees. They get them because they are creative, resourceful people. Me? Very bad employee. Fairly creative. I'll slog it out working for myself because I have no other choice. I know a lot of craftsmen have a hard time of it in this increasingly cookie-cutter Wal-Mart world; but the other option seems to be working at Wal-Mart. ;)

 

Work a little. Travel for a year or two. Figure out what you really want to do, then figure out if you really want to be saddled with $300.00 monthly payments for twenty years. Think about what you could actually do to educate *yourself* with the kind of money you'd spend on a college...

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Just my opinion...

 

College in general is a complete waste of money these days.  Aside from the fact that most prospective employers like to see that you have a degree, they could care less what it is in.  Something like 75% of all people with degrees end up in a field completely unrelated.  If you're going to get one, at least get it in something that you're interested in... But *don't* go into debt for it.  I was lucky enough to have a setllement from a car accident & went to a relatively cheap school to study jewelry & metalsmithing... which brings me to my next point, which is that yes, I went to art-school, and yes, it worked for me; but owing (ha ha,) to the increases in tuition I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless you can come out of it debt-free.  When I started at my college, tuition was $8000 a year.  It has gone up *at least* $1000 every year, like most colleges; now it's around $20,000, with other expenses coming to a total of $30,000 for four years.  "Liberal arts," degrees are just as pointless, aside from reading some literature you could have read on your own anyway.  :)

 

I have too many friends burdened by good degrees & great college loan payments; they still don't "get," jobs because of their degrees.  They get them because they are creative, resourceful people.  Me?  Very bad employee.  Fairly creative.  I'll slog it out working for myself because I have no other choice.  I know a lot of craftsmen have a hard time of it in this increasingly cookie-cutter Wal-Mart world; but the other option seems to be working at Wal-Mart.  ;)

 

Work a little.  Travel for a year or two.  Figure out what you really want to do, then figure out if you really want to be saddled with $300.00 monthly payments for twenty years.  Think about what you could actually do to educate *yourself* with the kind of money you'd spend on a college...

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I agree. I have been avoiding the traditional college route myself. It can be a harder row to hoe, since not everything is laid out for you, you can spend a whole lot of time banging your head against doors before you finally open them, and you have to be fairly well self disciplined, but to me, it is much more fulfilling.

 

I know quite a few people that have advanced degrees, some have several, and I was making as much as they were with no degrees whatsoever. I had more money to spend, because I don't pay the extra for the loans.

 

I don't think college is a bad idea, but it definitely isn't the end all be all. I would love to go, if it wasn't so dag burn expensive :rolleyes:

 

Learning is fun :)

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Different strokes.....

 

I went off to college and got a degree in Mechanical Engineering.

 

I have been a full-time bladesmith for 4-1/2 years now.

 

While Engineering of any principle will be much more widely accepted, pay better, and allow a more lavish lifestyle... I could not seem to keep myself focused on it and drive through it with passion every day.

 

I did, however, find myself making knives all the time. Even when I thought I should keep my nose to the Engr. grindstone, I was off learning how to make better knives.

 

Forging blades... now that's something I am passionate about.

 

Even though I get stressed about the income, the lack of benefits, the "waste" of my college degree... there are knives in my mind just busting to get out... and so I make them.

 

Even though my rational thought process told me (it still does most of the time) that Engr. is/was the way to go... Engr. processes are NOT in my mind busting to get out.

 

If you follow your heart, and work with passion, you can find success.

 

I feel that, at 27 years old, I am becoming a successful bladesmith. Why? Because I am getting to the point that I can create with my hands what I saw in my mind. And there are enough people out there that trust my work, to ask me to build something just for them.

 

If I had the same passion for Engr. I'd probably be on my way to being a successful engineer. But I just didn't have it. The degree was not a waste to me. I can always fall back on it if I need to. I chalk it up to another lesson in discipline.

 

Do what you do best and never let go of a hope for greatness.

 

-Nick-

http://www.wheelerknives.com

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I don't think college is a bad idea, but it definitely isn't the end all be all. I would love to go, if it wasn't so dag burn expensive :rolleyes:

 

Learning is fun :)

 

I'm not knocking the education, just the expense coupled with the expectation people have that a degree will automatically guarantee a better life. (O.K., actually, I'll knock the education a bit, since college seems to gravitate to this ridiculous level of political totalit- I mean, correctness these days.)

 

Anyway, that first set of suggestions is a good one. Try ABANA for meetings/hammer-ins, consider some continuing studies courses at a local college with a metals program. I think there may even be some bladesmithing going on at Mass College of Art. During the Summer there are excellent blacksmithing courses at places like Penland & Haystack Mountain School of Crafts.

 

...But when I have a kid, I'm still teaching how to write well and giving him money to work/travel/live for a year or two before engaging in any of this college foolishness.

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They seem to have the same problem over here in NZ, as long as you can write about it it you can get a degree, even if it has nothing to do with real live does not seem to matter.

Reacently I had the pleasure to meet a REAL Journyman, a German traveling carpenters apprintice, when they start this appinteship they are not allowed to return to the area where they come from for 3 years and 1 day, they have no money behind them only their skills.

He travelled a good part of the world and even worked in Turky, (for a few dollars a day) the experience gained this way is unbelievable.

He walked into my workshop and was fasinated with what I did, could I teach him in exchange for some work, I had been planning to increase the size of my forging area but never found the time.

A month later he went on his way with a couple of knives and a large chisel and even more experience, on his way to train another apprintice from his Guild, how to go around the world like that.

 

Richard

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This I can give advice on, it's short (maybe :))

 

Do what you like and don't wait to much,

 

now don't misunderstand me, college can be fun and rewarding, but don't do it for money, or the promise of a lavish lifestyle.

 

I am currently in college, I decided to put my bladesmithing on the back burner for a few years.

 

BUT, I'm studying philosophy, without any real prospect for employment, but québec university system is quite different from yours, tuition is about 2000$ CAN a year, and we have a maximum debt, we can't realy amass huge debts, the average debt for someone graduating is about 7 or 8 k$.

 

If you can afford it, and want to go to college do it, if not don't, there are probably good technical training around you in fields were you not only get good pay, but you also get to have good conditions, let's face it in todays world where there is to much university graduates, a plumber makes more money than a lot of people, and it's rather hard to outsource plumbing to tird world countries (they will figure a way, but it'll take them sometime).

 

In short, do what you like, life is too short to brake your back on the corporate ladder. If you are young it's time to make experiment, do the bladesmithing thing and if you fall flat on your face there will always be time to get back up.

 

One more thing the end of a semester is a PITA, I have 2 papers due tomorow and here I am, maybe I shouldn't have put bladesmithing on the back burner :)

 

there's always summer

 

Mike

 

P.S. sorry for any mistakes I made, English is a second or tird langage and I've been typing papers on Nietzsche, Plotinus and Hegel all day (well for about 31 hours now, ain't coffee a bitch... :))

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I teach college courses in history at a medium-sized 4 year university and I can speak from experience when I say that I see students every year who are enrolled in college but are just wasting their parents' money. College is not for everyone; some people just learn better from practical, life experience and don't have the patience for classroom education. There is really nothing wrong with trying a different route.

 

That being said, I don't think there's any substitute for a 4 year college degree, in whatever field you choose. You learn invaluable communication skills (effective reading, writing, and speaking skills) and are exposed to a much wider variety of topics than would otherwise be the case, giving you ample opportunity to find something you are truly interested in. Sure you could gain the same skills and experiences on your own with just a library card and some free time, but would most people really do so? It's unlikely.

 

You're still very young and have a lot of time to figure things out. You could try giving a go at professional blacksmithing and if it's not working out or isn't what you expected it to be, you'll still have plenty of time to try something else. College will still be there. And to be honest, most college students would benefit from the maturity and responsibility that a few extra years of age bring.

 

Your friendly, neighborhood guy getting an overpriced, advanced degree that won't necessarily guarantee him a good job,

 

Aaron

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