Blacksmithing for beginners with Cara Wassenberg

Ref: SWE13358

Location: West Dean
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About this course

Design and create a contemporary, sculptural candlestick, wall sconce or other small object for your home. You will learn a range of traditional forging and other metalworking techniques to forge, shape and join the components of your design.

Course Description

This course introduces you to a range of forging and joining techniques which can then be used to make a contemporary, sculptural candlestick, wall sconce or other small object for your home. You will be encouraged to think carefully about your object’s design, form and function. You will consider how traditional techniques may be used in a contemporary context (for example, a rivet as a design feature) and look at different ways of achieving texture in the steel.

Initially, there will be a discussion about some of the different design possibilities and points to be considered (i.e. the casting of light and shadow from a candle), looking at the work of the tutor and the work of other blacksmiths to inspire and help with idea development.

In the forge, the tutor will demonstrate a range of techniques from basic hand forging, using the power hammer to create texture, to joining forged components by riveting or, if appropriate, migwelding. You will then make your object, using these newly acquired skills.

By the end of the course, you will have the satisfaction of having made your own uniquely designed finished object and also have a deeper insight into the hugely satisfying and creative forging process.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • All stocked metal and fuel costs are included in the course fee for this course.

What students need to bring

  • A sketchbook/paper and pen
  • Any ideas or images of objects or other makers’ relevant work that inspire or interest you
  • A candle or tea light (if that is what you choose to make), so you can form the metal to the correct dimension
  • You will need clothing suitable for workshop use, together with steel toe cap boots. Please note that cotton or woollen clothing is preferable to nylon or other synthetics. Shorts do not provide necessary protection. For your safety, it is mandatory to wear steel toe capped safety boots when undertaking a course in the forge. You must provide your own footwear and bring it with you to wear on the course. If you fail to bring suitable footwear, you will not be able to take part in the course. Safety boots can be purchased from most tool hire shops and builders’ merchants, as well as online.
  • You must wear goggles (provided) and suitable protective clothing for this course. Leather aprons, welding gauntlets, goggles, welding helmets and ear defenders can be borrowed from the Forge or you can bring them along if you have them. If, for example, you have particularly large or small hands, your own leather work gloves are likely to be a better fit.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Good variety of general drawing materials.

Additional information

Please note: This course will be in the Forge, which is a 10-minute walk from the main house through the walled garden or can be accessed by car. As this course is held in the Forge, morning coffee and afternoon tea will be held in the nearby Carrington Studio. You will return to the main house for lunch. Please note that tutor supervision is always required when you are working in the Forge. The tutor’s instruction on health and safety will include access to and use of the power hammer.


Cara Wassenberg

Cara Wassenberg is a sculptor with 25 years' experience of working in steel, copper and glass. She trained at University of the Creative Arts, Farnham and teaches part-time on the BA Metalwork course at UCA. She makes sculpture for galleries, exhibitions and to commission.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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