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UT is home to more than 500 clubs and organizations that get students involved on campus, and this fall a unique opportunity for students is firing up with the new Blacksmithing Club.

Sponsored by the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, the club—which formed this semester—hopes to promote materials science while giving students an outlet for creativity through blacksmithing. Club members compete in a bladesmithing competition held at the TMS Conference, an annual exhibition held by the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society.

Cullen Pearson, club president and junior in materials science and engineering, said while many materials and goods are mass-produced today, blacksmiths offer creations with an artistic flair not found on assembly lines.

“They create things like high-end knives, architectural work, and everyday household items ranging from coat hooks to door latches,” he said.

The club is currently working to establish a partnership with the School of Art to use its blacksmithing studio. Until then, the club will be participating in tours of local blacksmith shops and demonstrations by professional blacksmiths.

Pearson explains more about the new club:

What inspired you to establish the Blacksmithing Club?

Blacksmithing is what got me interested in materials science and led me to UT. When I heard that TMS, an international materials conference, hosts a bladesmithing competition, starting a club was a no-brainer. Luckily, I’ve had wonderful support from the department and students.

Who should sign up?

Anyone that would like to see professional smiths in action as well as get some hands-on experience forging.

How much experience is necessary?

None. If you’re able to safely swing a hammer, you can smith. Even if the hands-on aspect isn’t your thing, there will still be plenty for you to participate in if you want to get involved.

What will students be able to create?

Our goal is to give students hands-on experience and skill in the art of blacksmithing. You only need to know about seven basic motions and you can tackle most any project. The club needs to move towards making a blade worthy of competition, but we want to encourage other blacksmithing projects as well.

What is a little-known fact about blacksmithing?

The Catholic church once prosecuted blacksmiths as witches because the work they did in cathedrals looked so three-dimensional and lifelike that the officials couldn’t believe it came from flat pieces of iron.

To get involved with the club, contact Cullen Pearson at Cpears11@vols.utk.eduor visit its VOLink profile.