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UAHT offers bladesmithing courses

by Andrew Bell | October 4, 2020 at 10:55 p.m. | Updated October 4, 2020 at 10:55 p.m.

The University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana is offering bladesmithing courses to their students, as part of their bladesmithing school that was added last year.

According to Communications Coordinator Casey Curtis, this school is the only one in the country to offer a credit degree in bladesmithing. It also offers non-credit community classes.

Jennifer Teresa, Dean of Technical and Industrial Programs at UAHT, said bladesmithing is an underrated skill to have right now.

"We believe the skillset is highly underrated along with many other historic trades," Teresa said. "Bladesmithing is truly an art and a science. It takes years of experience and knowledge to make a good blade. The knowledge of metallurgy and physics is necessary to be a true bladesmith. It makes a great deal of sense to have the bladesmith school because Historic Washington is home to James Black, maker of the original Bowie Knife, and is an Arkansas Heritage Site."

The next class will be held from Oct. 12 to Oct. 16, as well as Oct. 19-23. The course will be taught by Lin Rhea and JR Cook.

Students in this class will learn proper forging of metal, heat treatment, tempering and finishing techniques.

Damascus Steel will be October 26-30 with Lin Rhea, followed by Handles and Guards on November 16-20 with Ricardo Vilar and Advanced Bladesmithing on December 7-11 with Jerry Fisk.

There will be other classes scheduled for noncredit soon, according to Teresa.

"We hope that our students continue learning more after they finish our program," she said. "The courses provide them with the basic skills to make a knife and provide advanced skills to those who are already practicing bladesmiths. Many of the skills they learn can also be used in other fields, such as maintenance."

Teresa said feedback from students regarding past courses has been positive, in large part due to their instructors.

"UAHT always strives to have the best instructors, and we know that Jerry Fisk, JR Cook, Ricardo Vilar, and Lin Rhea are some of the best in the world," she said. "They are passionate about passing along their love and skill for bladesmithing to all students. They are a great group to work with, and their care and concern for teaching are evident in the way they take time with our students to answer their questions or show them a technique they have learned. Their goal is to pass on bladesmithing to future generations and give back to our community by sharing this historic
trade."

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