Forging ahead with blacksmithing classes at O’Keefe Ranch in Armstrong

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Blacksmith classes – Feb 15, 2019

In a cold, old barn at the O’Keefe Ranch in Armstrong, Patrick McIvor is hard at work.

“Warming up a piece of material that I’m turning into tongs,” said McIvor.

An anvil rings out as McIvor hammers out a tool of the trade.

But in a larger, more philosophical sense, McIvor is working on keeping his craft alive: the time-honored, ancient art of blacksmithing.

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‘It’s several thousand years of existence. Just after the bronze age and the copper age came the iron age,” said McIvor.

As one of only a handful of blacksmiths in the Okanagan, McIvor is a master craftsman from a bygone era, having studied the trade with blacksmiths from Turkey to Finland.

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“I started out when I was younger, wanting to make swords, knives, axes and armor,” McIvor said.

And while he still makes iron-age weapons, for the last few years, McIvor has been forging ahead, hammering out something new at historical O’Keefe Ranch.

“I teach classes in traditional blacksmithing,” McIvor said.

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From the basic intro to blacksmithing, the hammer, the forge and the anvil . . . to two-day seminars on knife making.

“We take a piece of four-and-a-half inch coil spring and you forge it into a knife,” McIvor said.

The class cuts right to the heart of matter – with hands on training.

“That is how you learn this stuff; you watch it, you see it in action,” McIvor said.

McIvor says his classes create a hands-on sense of satisfaction for his students — which, he says, a lot don’t get these days.

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