Saturday, February 5, 2011

Iron Smelting at the ACBA

The ACBA or American College of the Building Arts is located at the Old Charleston Jail on Magazine Street in downtown Charleston. On a frumpy and cold weather day a few professional blacksmiths were in town from Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia to demonstrate their iron smelting prowess, which will produce helpful iron tools and implements. First the iron ore is smelted in a kiln filled with wood charcoal, and then the blacksmiths extract a lump of iron that can then be shaped into a workable piece of iron. That iron is then heated in a warming fire and then finally hammered into shape on an anvil, in a process that sees the iron cooled in a cauldron of water and re-heated and re-hammered several times in a row. The fires produced warmth for the crowd of onlookers, who came away with a new appreciation for those who work with iron smelting.

PhotosByJeffDennis: Blacksmiths from Virginia added charcoal and then iron ore in increments into the kiln; Iron that is being worked on the anvil must first be heated until red hot; three stages: the clump of smelted iron is first transformed into a block of iron which can then be shaped into a tool such as this iron spoon; the kiln is ablaze after air was pumped into it

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