Learning something new

(May 24, 2013) — When thinking about what to do for their senior projects, students often try to learn new skills, or discover new hobbies. For seniors like Jason Pollock, inspiration came from the craft of blacksmithing.

Pollock wanted to learn blacksmithing for his fieldwork, and decided on the theme of vocational education. “Vocational education is skills based training like woodshop and metalshop,” he said. For his fieldwork, Pollock took blacksmithing classes at Adams Forge, with his instructor and mentor, Michael Horgan.

“We were kind of left alone to do the fieldwork so long as we had the hours at the end,” Pollock said. Although he and other seniors were able to go about completing the fieldwork portion of their senior project as they wished, Pollock said the research paper portion was driven by deadlines they were given in class. “We had to have our outlines turned in by a certain date, and our first two paragraphs in by another date,” he said.

For the writing portion of his senior project, Pollock wrote a seven-page research paper on how California schools are getting rid of vocational education classes like woodshop, and the negative effects it had on the economy. “Removing vocational education classes is bad because we have high unemployment. No one has the skills to do those jobs,” Pollock said.

Aside from cuts and blisters, Pollock said he didn’t run into any difficulties throughout the process of his senior project. His blacksmithing classes gave him the skill set he needed to create his final product; a steel rose.

To create his steel rose, Pollock first used a propane powered forge to heat the steel, and then a hammer and anvil to shape it. “We start with a steel rod, about a half inch thick, and we hammer it into shape,” he said. “Because the steel gets to about 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, I could easily manipulate it with the tongs.”

Although Pollock has finished his senior project, he is still working towards getting a blacksmithing certificate. Regarding his final product, Pollock said that there were a couple mistakes on his steel rose. “I snapped a weld in my rose, and its missing a leaf,” Pollock said. “It didn’t turn out exactly as I wanted it, but it’s fixable.”