So I spent my first day at the forge today in my blacksmithing class. (Those are my tongs! And my welding gloves, which I think I'm going to want to replace by next class...)
First I watched my teacher do the first part of today's project - a decorative hook, if you're curious. When he did it, it looked super easy. Bang, bang, bang, the steel was narrowing and shaping just the way he wanted it. It went really fast.
Then I got to my anvil and lit the forge I was sharing with my classmate. First, we couldn't get that forge hot enough, so I we both ended up moving to other forges. Then I couldn't seem to get the steel to move at all. I spent a few minutes thinking this was impossible and a bad idea and I wasn't strong enough or clever enough.
Then I asked the teacher to show me again, which is something I almost never do. I hate doing it. I failed a horticulture class once because it was easier than asking the teacher for help. But this was important so I sucked it up.
And the next time I went at it, I heard a ringing anvil and it took me a minute to realize that was me, that was my hammer and my anvil and then the metal was pretty much going where I wanted it to go, and from that point it went a lot more smoothly. Then we broke for lunch and came back and watched him do the second half of the project. This time I paid attention to different things, knowing the difference between what he did and what it translated into. The second part went faster and easier, though not nearly as fast as his demo. Not perfect either - I managed to get the decorative leaf turned around the wrong way, somehow. But I hammered! And rounded! And twisted! And managed not to crack my leaf off!
By the end of class I was close to passing out from the heat and the fact that I'd forgotten breakfast. (Yeah, kids, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That's srs business.) But I finished the assigned piece.
My hand is still shaking a bit when I try to grip things, but all the tension in my back and shoulders and neck is gone. I was expecting this to hurt - and I'm sure I'll feel it in my feet and my elbow tomorrow. But aside from being tired and sweaty and somewhat heat exhausted, I feel great.
Now on to Monday's welding class!