Blacksmith Day sparks kids' interest in profession Action-oriented demonstrations held at Museum

If you happen to find blacksmith Mike Kaiser tomorrow at the Carroll County Farm Museum, don't expect to stand there and quietly watch him forge S-shaped hooks.

The pony-tailed and bespectacled Mr. Kaiser expects more from his audience.


Yesterday, for example, the accountant-turned-blacksmith told groups of visiting school youngsters, "This is not MTV. Don't just stand there and let me entertain you. Ask questions. Learn something."

Mr. Kaiser and other blacksmiths -- from Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., and Delaware -- will be demonstrating their trades and competing against one another during "Blacksmith Day" at the Farm Museum from noon to 5 p.m.


Visitors can watch blacksmiths working at portable forges set up on the museum grounds. If that isn't enough, a hands-on forge will be open from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to allow visitors to try their hands at blacksmithing. Safety equipment will be available for amateurs, and instructions will be offered on how to tend the fire and heat a piece of steel to create a "smithy" souvenir.

Yesterday, Mr. Kaiser was making S-shaped and mantel hooks. He told the children he likes to work with a fire that is between 1,900 and 2,100 degrees.

Mr. Kaiser is more than just your average blacksmith.

The 32-year-old Mount Airy resident gave up his job with Sovran Bank to pursue a life bellowing forges and tinkering with steel.

Mr. Kaiser learned blacksmithing by reading books and by volunteering to work at the farm museum's blacksmith shop the past four years. He began working with metal while he was in his late teens.

In case you run across Mr. Kaiser, who is president of the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland, there are a few things you should know:

* If he asks you who makes horseshoes, tell him farriers do. He'll be impressed. Farriers and blacksmiths worked in two different professions before the Industrial Revolution.

* And if he asks how the word blacksmith came to be, tell him black stems from the black metal materials used by those in his profession and smith comes from the old world word "smite," which means to hit.


Admission to Blacksmith Day is $3 for adults and $2 for children ages 6 to 18.

Admission is free for children under 6.

For more information, call the Carroll County Farm Museum at 848-7775 or 876-2667.