About the Course
Blacksmith Experience Days, the original 'day in the life of a blacksmith' course at Anvil Forge, based at Blackcroft Farm in Wokingham near Reading.
Everything you make on the day is yours to take away. Everyone makes a fire poker as the first project and we then proceed to make a project which can be an idea you have or an item we guide you on, which can be discussed with us in advance.
Anvil Forge is a small Blacksmithing and Metalwork company, established by John Loveluck and family-run. We specialise in bespoke metalwork which include gates, railings and sculptural pieces. John has over 40 years’ experience of creating artistic metalwork.
In 2015 John and his team were commissioned to produce the feature metalwork for the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s garden at the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, which won a gold medal as well as the best in category.
Please Note weekend courses are 185.00
If booking with a CraftCourses voucher for part or all of the course fee, please fill in the contact form above or telephone us. Your voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.
What's included in the price?
All courses include materials. PPE will be provided but please wear sturdy shoes/boots and old clothes. No Fleeces or Sandals please.
Included in the price is a cooked lunch in a local pub (including a complimentary pint or glass of wine!). Teas, coffee and refreshments are on a constant supply.
If you have any special dietary requirements please let us know in advance and we shall endeavour to meet them.
We start off with a brief health and safety chat to ensure we are all as safe and sound at the end of the day as we were when we started.
Loved the whole experience, great direction from John, Mark and Spencer and a great pub lunch too! Recommended for anyone with an interest in blacksmithing.
Jez - - #18865
What a great experience - my partner and I thoroughly enjoyed the day and although we started off a little daunted at the thought of bending hot metal we soon got to grips with the techniques under the expert tutelage of John, Mark and Spencer and soon became engrossed in our tasks. It's fairly physically demanding and we ended the day exhausted but very happy with what we produced - we made a pair of candlesticks. Altogether a great atmosphere, lovely group of people - fantastic day!
Xanthe Scott - - #18849
Having blacksmith ancestors in the dim and distant past, 1100 yrs ago to be precise, I've always wanted to do a bit of smithying!
I found it quite difficult at the start, being female, not very big, and unused to hammering, but John and his Team were very patient and on-hand when I need some help.
It was tremendous fun, once I got the hang of things and would thoroughly recommend an Experience day to anyone considering taking up a challenge. It's very important to think carefully about what one wishes to make.
On the day I attended the others were a great bunch and I think we were all thrilled with the objects we made to take home.
Sue Williams - - #18266
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Sue
What a fantastic day I had at Anvil Forge, getting a taste of the life and skills of a blacksmith. I am delighted with the garden sculpture which will look terrific by our pond. My friends will be so impressed. I'll take a little credit, but most of it will have to go to John, Mark, Spencer and Charlotte for their kind and sympathetic instruction and encouragement. You may well see me again! Many thanks to you all.
Hilary Alder - - #17353
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Hilary
Many thanks again to you and the team for a fantastic day.
Ritchie - - #17070
Had an absolutely amazing day with the guys at Anvil Forge!!! Mark, Spencer and Steve were fantastic teachers. Course is taught at really good pace, moving quick enough that its interesting throughout but not so fast that you cant keep up.. would strongly reccomend to anyone thinking of giving this a go to get on z course and do it.... Already planning on going back for more! Thanks
Sam Wildridge - - #15855
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Sam
What a great way to spend a day!
The experts (John, Steve & Spencer) were enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and the ratio of one expert per two novices meant everyone benefitted from lots of hands-on tuition.
The only (minor) negative was the lack of signage inside the farm complex.
Neil - - #15516
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Neil
This was a birthday present from my husband and it was a fantastic experience. First of all I made a poker, which is used most days, and then a garden sculpture of long bars which were twisted into various organic shapes. John and his colleague were very supportive and patient. We all gradually improved throughout the day and left with some great pieces of artwork.
This is an addictive hobby and I’m booked onto another course!
Suzy Morgan - - #13196
I cannot recommend this day enough!! My fiancée bought this for me as a present and from the moment I stepped in the door, John and the guys made us all feel at home and ‘part of the team’. The course was professionally run and their wealth of experience and expert guidance ensured not only an impressive project completed in a little over an afternoon, but an informative and fun working environment.
Phil martin - - #12616
A present to me from my daughters.
My wife and two daughters had an excellent day with the team. Started by making a poker each then learning lots of new skills. I made a flower container out of old horse shoes, I believe a first for them. We took lots of goodies home after a very enjoyable day.
Thanks to you all.
Martin Forde - - #12564
My husband and I received this day course as a wedding present. What a wedding present! John and his team made us feel welcome and ensured we knew how to keep safe in the forge. From there we instantly learned some skills and warmed up by the fires. A poker is an ideal starting point and we have proudly displayed ours. After learning the basics, we were able to design our piece. (A door knocker for us). Lunch at a local pub was a brilliant day break before setting off on our project. With 3 staff on hand we always had 1 person to help instruct us in manipulating the heated metal or using machines during fabrication. They welded for us and we finished and filed. The end result was brilliant but the journey making it was worth the extra money because now our new knocker has happy memories. I'd recommend this course to anyone who wants to learn a skill and spend a day of quality time together. Thank you Anvil Forge.
Jane Tarrant - - #12376
I had a great day working with John and Olly at the workshop. I wish I'd had an idea of what I wanted to make before arriving but I still made a fantastic knife and even though it was work I thoroughly enjoyed my day, I will definitely be bookmarking this course and looking forward to another go.
One point is the place isn't easy to find, look out for Unit 2 (right and right).
Geoffrey Styche - - #12356
Response from Anvil Forge:Hi Geoff
A really enjoyable course run by caring and responsible masters of their art. Supervision was close but not intrusive, whenever you needed help there was always someone there for you. Above all safety was strictly observed - I felt safe.
One negative comment though, it was very difficult to find the Anvil Forge itself as there is no direction on the farm board nor on the attendance letter. John, please add "Unit 2" to the joining details - please!
Barry York - - #12170
Great day - great people.
I've read the previous comments - and I can't add more.
Just book a course and treat yourself!
Simon Parry - - #12162
What a fantastic day out this was! A chance to learn some real metal working skills while making something to take home. John (the boss) and his team were always on hand to help when needed, but also left you to it much of the time. Such a great day out. Pub food was great too! Thanks. 5* from me.
Duncan Crawford - - #12111
My Dad and I had an absolutely fantastic blacksmith experience day and we couldn't be prouder of what was accomplished with the help of John and his team. My dad made a beautiful mushroom and dragonfly ornament with my mum in mind and I managed to make a dragon clawed door knocker!
Thank you so much for your patience and the opportunity to learn a little of your craft, we'll definitely be back for more courses in the future :)
Lauren Quigley - - #12002
From the moment we arrived John made us feel very welcomed. I had some reservations as to whether I'd be physically or creatively capable, however, it soon became very apparent that these were ill-founded. John and the team were very organised, friendly and always ready to assist when required. I arranged this day as a surprise birthday present for my Son and it was lovely to see him so engrossed with the practicalities of blacksmithing and forgetting to check for incoming emails etc! We both learnt a lot and we were really chuffed with our individual projects which we will always have as a reminder of the day. FabUlous.
Carolyn Glanfield - - #11722
I bought this experience as a gift for my other half for his birthday. He had an amazing day and he loved every second of it. It was fun and interesting. John and the others running the course were friendly, helpful, super skilled and all round incredible craftsmen. We're going back in December for another crack!
Thanks for an amazing day - totally recommend it to anyone as something fun, interesting, rewarding and different to do!
Emily Bunton - - #11649
I attended the blacksmiths day at Anvil Forge today and loved it. 5 people in the group with 3 experts on hand every step of the way. Every one did very different projects and the gents from the forge were superb in helping make our dreams a reality.
It's great value too as I made fireside tools that I am chuffed to bits with. I would definitely do this again!
Matt Carter - - #11585
An absolutely fantastic day. Despite being a complete novice, with John and team’s help, I managed to create a functional and decorative piece (beer holder!). The fact you get down quickly to bashing and moving metal and can experiment to your heart’s content means this is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Will definitely do this again.
Ian Cochrane - - #11584
What a fantastic day , John and Spencer are very welcoming and soooo full of knowledge and skill. The Viking knives all looked really different and all awesome and some made garden ornaments ( dragon flies ) which looked superb , seriously considering going back with my wife to do something like this as they turned out so well .
Really can not recommend this enough , even if you've never worked with metal before ( I haven't since school about 30 yrs ago) the team a great at guiding you through everything .
Plenty of tea & coffee and the lunch at the pub was delicious .
Just a superb day out in every respect .
Jeff Bowsher - - #11444
Fantastic day, really great experience. John and his team were attentive, enthusiastic and encouraged throughout the day imparting their wealth of experience. I would definitely recommend and look forward to going back. Thank you.
Stewart Ower - - #11352
My partner and I went on this course as a birthday treat and would highly recommend it. We picked this blacksmithing experience because you could choose to work on your own projects in the afternoon. We made a number plate for our house which worked out perfectly with the team's support. They encouraged us to be more ambitious and helped us to also make a garden sculpture. I found the team really supportive across the whole day. It was also great fun meeting the others on the course and seeing what they worked on.
Alana - - #11297
We had an excellent day with John and the team. Their expertise and enthusiasm drove the day and our varied projects forward. We all finished the day tired, with aching arms, dirty faces and big smiles. We will definitely be making a return visit.
Stefan N - - #9954
Cracking course - great, helpful staff, excellent equipment well worth it. If you're considering buying some handmade, why not save some money and get the satisfaction of doing it yourself on this course?
James Silk - - #9673
My wife and I attended a Saturday "Blacksmith experience day" which she paid for as a gift for my 65th birthday. The course was great fun and very creative, we both made a poker to start with and then collaborated on a garden sculpture which was finished by five p.m. and we took it home finished due to all the help from John and his team of Spencer and Olly. It was a hot day but refreshments were provided and lunchtime meant a visit to a local pub for a drink and a meal (all included). The premises are a genuine working environment that works all week on commercial projects and gives courses when appropriate. If you are interested I cannot recommend this highly enough.
Edward Bird - - #9429
Had a fantastic day getting back in contact with my metal working side. John and his team were great tutors and to some extent evil geniuses. My longbow stand turned into a long-sword much to the jealousy of my son. Well, <<could>> stand two bows against it if you wanted – bonus ! A whit filled day where you become a real black-smith (shower for about 45 mins to just be a smith!).
Excellent fun – plan to come back with son in tow. Thanks for a great day !
Steve Ritzema, Hampshire - - #9320
Never having set foot inside a Blacksmith's workshop before, I wasn't at all sure what to expect, or whether I would come away with anything worth keeping. I found myself standing in a large and very well-equipped workshop, part of a small group of rather apprehensive would-be blacksmiths. We were soon put at ease by the friendly greeting and detailed health and safety briefing, and in no time at all we had all made our first item - a decorative poker. I was astonished by the quality of what I had been able to achieve as a complete novice - thanks mainly to John Loveluck's expert guidance. By now I was feeling more confident and ready to start my project. John and his team were on hand all day to provide friendly help and advice, and it was fascinating to learn some of the basic skills of a blacksmith. Moreover, at the end of the day each of us was able to take something home of which we could be proud. Even my wife was impressed with what I had made, insisting that it be mounted by the front door for all the world to see. Praise indeed! All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding day.
Clive Nunn - - #8745
I was not sure what to expect as I parked outside Anvil Forge on Saturday morning . Within 20 minutes, after a safety talk and demonstration, we were straight into heating , hammering and bending metal to construct a poker.
John and his team challenged our project ideas for the afternoon session, encouraging us to try new skills and equipment, while at the same time developing the skills experienced earlier that morning. We were given the opportunity to work by ourselves, yet help and advice were close at hand when required.
Have a look at the photos of projects completed by people who have attended this fantastic course so that you can have an idea as to what you want to achieve by the end of the day. Think big- John and his team will help you achieve it.
Neil - - #8453
Very enjoyable day creating with expert guidance by John and Spencer. I love my pig and he has pride of place on the fireplace.
If you're looking for something different to do then give this a go. You won't be disappointed!
Angela - - #8421
This was a truly great day to meet interesting people while being creative, learning new skills, enjoying convivial banter, a fair amount of exercise; and then taking home our creations to (hopefully) impress friends and family.
Interesting People, Good Banter
Including me there were five students (four men and one lady) and two blacksmiths - There was a pretty wide diversity of professions including a garden fence contractor, a brass musical instrument restorer and me, a semi-retired accountant. Just chatting to the two blacksmiths about the history of blacksmithing and then looking around the various projects on display around the workshop was riveting [pun intended].
Throughout the day there was much chat and good humour – moreso over the excellent pub lunch.
Learning new skills
After the introduction and safety briefing, we were instructed on how to forge a piece of square section iron into a poker. After heating one end of our irons in the forge we each found ourselves a hammer and a spare anvil and started hammering the red hot metal into a long point - at first this was not as easy as you might think as we soon found out that you had to, periodically, reheat the iron to keep it at the right brightness of red and making sure the hammering was fairly precise to keep its sides uniform and straight.
We then had to make the handle end by first heating and hammering the end into a flat shape and then curving the soft metal between two pegs on the anvil; the finishing touch was to twist a spiral in the middle section. It looked great.
Other skills learnt depended upon the other piece you had decided to make and for me it was more forging, bending and welding but on round rod which is more difficult to hammer a point than square.
Before the day we were asked to think of something we would like to make. My project was a bird feeding station and the others were two fire-log holders, a music stand and bird shapes for a wall decoration.
The day flew by and I wondered if we would all make it as our projects involved varying levels of difficulty and complexity, but with our two experts on hand to help us along we all got there in the end.
I have to say the bird feeding station came out looking really good and, most important, my wife (who gave me the course as a Christmas gift) was delighted, proudly showing it off to all visitors.
I’m fairly fit and, in retirement, do a lot of digging on a large allotment but, as most of my working life was either chatting in meetings or tapping keys on a computer keyboard, I found that Blacksmithing can be pretty hard work. My project involved a lot of hammering and I was glad when John called the lunch time break. Nonetheless, after a beer, a good lunch and a gradual improvement in technique (although at one point John did give me a nudge and a smile telling me “you’ve got too many irons in the fire”) I was able to complete the tasks without losing the ability to lift my arm!
Terry Follen - - #8399
As a retired Chartered Engineer I found this course very interesting and informative. The course leader, John, was extremely competent in teaching the techniques, helpful with ideas for projects and his enthusiasm was infectious. At the end of the day all course members felt they had achieved something worthwhile having had a very interesting and productive introduction to this ancient craft,
I have recommended this course to many friends.
Brian Young - - #8397
I booked this day for my partner and me as a Christmas present and we both an excellent day. As a 5ft 4ft, not particularly beefy female, I admit I was a little unsure whether I'd have the physical strength to make any impression on the metal. However I was in good company of a couple of other similarly sized women and the competition element of not being left behind by them, (let alone my partner with his background in metalwork & engineering), got the better of me! We all managed very well indeed, with the guidance and encouragement from John and the team. My partner thoroughly enjoyed the creative side, as well as being quite a flair for it. Having just had a woodburner installed, I was thrilled that we managed to made a poker, a shovel and between us a log basket. The log basket was made to a design we'd seen, which John helped us to interpret. I liked the pub lunch idea as it made for a nice sociable break in the day. All in all a superb day and I'm hoping to go back at some point soon to try out one of the other themed days that John will be introducing.
Lisa O'Brien - - #7653
My husband and I had a great day at Anvil Forge and were spoilt by our 1:1 tuition from John and Spencer. We were given clear instruction and guidance yet afforded the opportunity to fully construct our pieces ourselves. In addition to the satisfaction provided by hammering hot metal, we also tried our hand at welding too.
Despite my comments at the start of the day that I am not very creative, I was thrilled with my bullrushes garden ornament. I foresee another visit to Anvil Forge in the future.
Karen Anderson - - #7420
As a group the aim was to hammer red hot bits of metal. We did this and so much more.
John and his team welcomed us their place of work and soon set the prefect tone for a great day.
After a short safety introduction, we were straight into making a poker each which fulfilled the main objective of hammering red hot bits of metal. This was great fun and proved that you need less brawn and more brains than the task would first suggest. I particularly enjoyed putting in the candy twist into the poker.
John had asked us to come with a project in mind and soon he had helped plan a way to translate our ideas into reality. We made between us a forge knife, a boot stand, a number of dragonflies and ocean scene. I had to weld in the afternoon, a first for me !! I never felt rushed or out of my depth with the plenty of helpful guidance, tea and biscuits. It was truly amazing what we all managed to make in a single day.
The best recommendation I can give, is that this day is firmly in our calendar's to repeat next year and I will build a plant trellis next time.
Peter Scott - - #6587
I attended a course at the Anvil Forge with my son and two my colleagues. We had a fabulous day. John and his partner were fabulous. They have an engaging style and the skills of true craftsmen. We learned a lot, had a fabulous experience and laughed a lot. We had a great pub lunch and came away really proud of the practical things we had made. We were so impressed by what John and his colleagues can do that my wife commissioned him to make her a Christmas Sleigh and my son had him complete a companion set for his new home. We definitely plan to go back again.
Clint - - #6534
Having no previous experience of metalworking, I was looking forward to John's course but uncertain what to expect. I needn't have worried - we were well looked after by John and his team, given access to all manner of tools and techniques through the day, and thoroughly enjoyed whole thing! There's something fundamentally satisfying about hammering the hell out of glowing steel on an anvil, and transforming an intangible idea into something solid. Try it !
Tim Fowler - - #6532
if you're looking for a fun day with a difference, then a day learning some of the ancient skills of blacksmithing at the Anvil Forge is a must. What a fantastic day; we left with a real sense of achievement, a great understanding of the art and science of smithing and a finished project to be proud of. John runs the day with a very relaxed, informal style - he has a wealth and depth of knowledge that he readily shares and he's great with all ages. My teenage daughters loved the day, thought that John was a superb teacher and want to go back for more!
I'd recommend the day to anyone who's looking for a very creative, unusual and satisfying activity; be prepared for some hard work, a 5lot of smiles and a great sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.
Alex Freeman - - #6523
My daughter and I had a fantastic day and we came home really feeling we had achieved something. The atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed, which helped me feel less worried about my lack of creative talent, so that, with the expertise and excellent support of all the team, I managed to come home with some garden ornaments which have surprised and impressed everyone I have shown them to. I would recommend this course to anyone, but with one word of warning - you may, like me, get the bug and want to do more!
Carole Artis - - #6484
I organised this course as a surprise birthday present for my Brother. John and team were utterly brilliant, and it was not only great fun, but we both learnt a lot and met some interesting people. The day is well run with lots of practical work, and we had really close tuition and advice, with one of John’s team between two of us. I loved the flexibility, with everyone working on different and personal projects, and it was great not only to have learnt a new skill, but to have something at the end to take home. Would strongly recommend signing up!
Tim Funnell - - #6459
A great day - I still proudly display the poker in our lounge and have the sculpture I made in our garden. I was delighted and surprised by what I achieved in a single day and thanks go to John and his team for making the day so memorable and productive!
I am not hands on and making things has not been a great success for me in the past - all that has changed!
Great value for money and a wonderful new experience - go!!
I normally flag by late afternoon - but not here on this day!
Nigel Northcott - - #6452
I thoroughly enjoyed my day being a blacksmith and learning some basic techniques. It was tiring as its quite physical but very rewarding. I came away with 2 large pieces which I am very proud of. John and his team are great teachers and incredibly helpful. I would recommend it to anyone interested in doing something a bit different.
Mary MacSwan - - #6451
The course was well paced. Starting in the morning with a simple task (poker) that got all the attendees warmed up and on a similar level. Mid morning we started on the more complex project piece. Assisted by John and the team throughout. At a suitable point we broke for lunch and a chance to discuss the project piece and question john on his smithing experience. Back to the forge we continued to work on our individual pieces. The course completed late afternoon, everyone had finished their project. With Johns assistance and finesse we each had a piece of work to be pleased with. Great day with enjoyable company.
graham puddephatt - - #6449
Course dates are flexible; please get in touch for the next available date.
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