Sculpture: forging          Instructor: James Garvey   www.JamesGarvey.NET

Art Students League of New York Vytlatcil Campus, Sparkill, New York 10962

Saturdays 10:00 to 1:00PM                      Fee includes most materials: $150.00 per month   

The course is intent upon teaching sculpture students to use forging as a medium. An ongoing open-air forging performance is set up. Students are engaged 3 hours for each session. They are guided to teach themselves hand forging skills and to assist with two-man forging as needed. Their insight is called upon to sketch form-ideas that occur since starting the class. In accordance with the instructor’s intuition, ideas are challenged and their momentum is held in check until they acquire a practical approach; then, they undertake in-process work. As soon as an individual completes a work, there is a critique. Policies in effect have proven effective to respect the individual’s concentration. The ambiance is free from obnoxious noise from power tools or arc welder glare; this policy relieves almost all the risk for eye injury.


ENROLLMENT    The class can manage up to nine students. This is a rigorous studio course. Students are obliged to accept a disciplined approach to acquire hand-forging expertise. Metalworking experience is not required. The technical assistant performs tasks, such as welding and grinding. During conversation, the applicant is introduced to basic skills. He or she will be invited to participate at the discretion of the instructor. Considerations include: they have the maturity to accept instruction; they can visualize a form idea; their aptitude for forge expertise is high; and, they have a deep respect for their creative ability. The course is awkward for some; potential students should read ‘Policies for studio activity’.  They should earnestly consider, “Can I tolerate the non-liberal approach?”  If there is hesitation, please visit with the instructor before enrolling.

EXPERTISE     To start, a student will learn how to handle tongs, take a heat, share the fire and the anvil, use the vice, and maintain a safe work environment; the assignment is to make eight hooks without help; there is no functional expectation. They learn to bring the bar up to an appropriate ‘heat’, by reading the radiant glow: dark red for bending, orange for rounding, yellow for tapering or cutting, white for flattening. They will learn to form a heated bar: tapering, flattening, rounding, bending on the anvil, and cutting on the hardie. This is “freehand’ expertise”; it is done without the use of a jig. Very little explanation is used to teach the techniques; as the demonstration is repeated the subtlety of the hammering and vice positions can be understood by a mechanical reality that the body understands rather than the mind. The exercise is a vehicle to enable students to go beyond awkward struggle; they shall be able to concentrate on their vision as they work

FORGE PLATFORM   This work fosters urgency; I have my attention focused on my task as we navigate amongst each other on a platform of steel plates sharing open-hearth forges. I am repeatedly ‘taking a heat’ and hammering out the details of this three dimensional image that is levitating just behind my forehead. I share in tending the forge fire; I take turns using the vice and anvils; I lay out all the hammers and tongs each day; it makes me fluent with the tools. I am an active participant observing and being observed by this audience. I cannot avoid the effect that it has upon my attitude. We become attuned to each other’s level of understanding; in our concern, there is a silent process of osmosis; I become infused with details of rigor that serve my work.

FORGE ATTIRE     Students are urged to wear safety glasses and heat resistant garments: gloves, hat, and footwear. Appropriate fabrics include: leather, wool, cotton, Kevlar, or carbon fiber.: open cuff boots catch hot embers; synthetic fabric melts and causes burns; loose hair tends to be singed by the end of class.