Everyone has their hobbies. Some people like sports, some like knitting, and some people like to spend their weekend forging weapons. James Bunton, a sophomore at LRHS, spends his free time blacksmithing. While blacksmithing may not seem like a very relevant craft, one would be surprised by the number of people out there with similar passions for forging.
As a seventh grader, James took up the hobby and has stuck with it ever since. He had seen a few videos on Youtube that sparked his interest. It wasn’t until he went to the State Fair and saw a demonstration at the Heritage Forge that he joined NC ABANA, a blacksmithing guild dedicated to promoting and sharing the art of blacksmithing.
For someone who may just be getting into blacksmithing, it may seem a little overwhelming. It can be hard to know what you might need or how to start a project. There are plenty of great resources out there meant to provide materials for personal projects and offer apprenticeships so master craftsman can pass on their techniques.
Bunton encourages that anyone who is interested in blacksmithing joins NC ABANA because it’s a good source of information, equipment, and supplies. It also gives people opportunities to meet other blacksmiths and learn from them. The internet can also be a good resource for information and tutorials when getting used to the craft. There are also several schools in North Carolina where people can learn more advanced craftsmanship if they’re really dedicated.
Bunton shared how he started out and what tools someone new to the craft would need. “To start off you really just need a forge, either propane or charcoal, a pair of pliers and some hammers… I started with a normal blacksmithing hammer, you can buy them from any hardware store. I made my own set of tongs, made a couple other hammers and I expand on my repertoire of power tools to grinders and things like that,” said Bunton.
Once you have all the tools and materials, there’s still the matter of finding the willpower and time to master the craft. According to James, the process involves a lot of trial and error since creating something to your vision can be harder than expected. He’ll spend hours in his garage trying to perfect his works. “If I can’t intuit how to make it I just try to find a couple Youtube tutorials, and then I just fire up my forge and fail several times then eventually get it,” said Bunton.
It is also recommended to have protective gear since there are a lot of dangers associated with blacksmithing. Gear such as goggles, leather aprons, gloves, and ear protection is used to protect from potential dangers. Working with forges and hot metals can potentially cause fires or burns, so it’s best to always keep on the safe side.
Bunton likes to challenge himself with a multitude of projects from jewelry to pry bars to knives. He tries to create things that would be useful such as hinges and additional tools for his projects.
Blacksmithing isn’t the only interesting hobby James has. He enjoys hobbies that not only give him a space to be creative but that also let him develop skills he could possibly use later in life; he enjoys hobbies such as electrical engineering, computer coding, and basic engineering. “Most of my other hobbies usually revolve around making things… I just make whatever suits my fancy,” said Bunton.
With a lot of time and dedication, James’s has advanced his artistry and skill. His simple interest after watching a few videos turned into an incredible skill through a lot of time and hard work.