The Crucible

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Today Mike and I took an Industrial Arts class at The Crucible in Oakland. The class was segmented into three parts: blacksmithing, aluminum casting, and MIG welding.

The blacksmithery was a sweltering 101 degrees Fahrenheit! I was sweating like a pig the whole time. Blacksmithing was the most challenging portion of the day for me because of the heat and because I was afraid of accidentally branding myself.

The forges are over 2000 degrees F, and even with gloves on I felt my arms burning.

Picking up steel from the forge proved to be difficult– the angle had to be just right.

The hardest part for me, though, was hammering. I just don’t have the upper body strength to appropriately wield a hammer. I was the only woman in our class, and I couldn’t hammer as quickly or forcefully as I would have liked. That being said, though, it was still a lot of fun and I learned a lot.

Aluminum casting in the foundry was a lot less scary. We used various washers and pieces of scrap metal to carve designs into molds of sand. I based my design off of a sample I liked.

Our instructor melted a block of aluminum in a crucible while we watched from a safe distance. Interestingly, all of our instructors were female, which I found pretty cool and empowering.

There’s molten aluminum in there!

After filling the molds, we let the metal solidify for about fifteen minutes. Then the sand molds were broken, leaving the metal intact.


The highlight of the day for me was metal inert gas welding, or MIG welding for short. This was the perfect ratio of challenging and fun. I could see myself taking this up as a serious hobby.

The hood I was using here automatically dims when it detects sparks. So high tech!

Here are our finished products that are highly impractical (I made the nonfunctional mug on the right), but lovely nonetheless.

Today was a good day!



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