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Scholarship experience at the Metal Museum

By Federica Ranelli

To be in community with folks at the Metal Museum and Society of Inclusive Blacksmiths was to feel a sense of belonging no matter my level and background in metals and arts. Through the few days I was hosted at the museum, I gained just as much food for thought in discussions with apprentices and interns as I did skills in class with Jake and fellow classmates. What a joy to be connected with welcoming, curious, talented folks in this craft! 

The flat base of the skillet was my greatest source of learning and inspiration over the two days I was in the class. Moving a piece of metal that size was a new experience for me, and because of the small class size I had support in trying out many different tools in the shop – a power hammer, treadle hammer, oxy-fuel torches, hydraulic press, and gas forge— in addition to the basic tools I was familiar with. I would come to Jake with a problem and he would show me a new tool or technique to solve it...sometimes he’d offer many and I’d choose one to fit my needs or the amount of time I had. These techniques felt like “cheats” to me as a novice, but I know they come from a complete grasp on the functionality of the metal and the tools. That’s something I love about this craft – everyone has a different way of getting from point A to point B and they’re all correct in their own right. It makes for humble and curiosity-forward learning and teaching. 

I’m in the exposure stage of my learning, and this experience at the metal museum exposed me to a lot. I left with inspiration running out of my fingertips, making my head spin with ideas of new makes and curiosity for how every metal object I interact with was made. For me, I see my future in blacksmithing as a way to build with and for my community. It’s a skill that can sustain and help my people, and it’s a great source of joy for me. Thanks to my experience with SIBs and the Metal Museum, I’m connected with more people in this metals world, and we’ve got a lot to share with one another.  

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