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Crafting Fire and Iron: A Blacksmith's Tale at Dunedin Gasworks Museum

Updated: May 22, 2023

In South Dunedin's Dunedin Gasworks Museum, an unexpected mix of history and hands-on learning awaits visitors. Amongst various exhibits, the blacksmith's forge, managed by local blacksmith Kelly Gragg, stands out.


Gragg, who began his journey with blacksmithing in the US, found his niche at the Dunedin Gasworks after moving to Dunedin in 2016. Over time, he began to run blacksmithing classes, allowing participants to engage with a piece of history while gaining a practical skill.



CMPNZ's Video : Crafting Fire and Iron, showcases the Dunedin Gasworks Museum's blacksmithing classes. The video is an insight into the journey of steel being heated and hammered into functional art. Blacksmith Gragg said, "That was a great video, I am impressed all the great footage and how it is tied together with the dialogue." Gasworks Chairman, Jonathan Cweorth commented, 'This will be useful to us, especially when we are releasing a blacksmithing programme at the beginning of the year. " Known for their authentic and dynamic content, from compelling headshots to captivating visual narratives CMPNZ always strives to bring stories to life.


The 2023 class schedule includes sessions for different skill levels and even ones for parents and kids. Given the high demand, early booking is recommended for those keen to try their hand at this craft.


"Usually I have people make either a hook or a fire poker because it is a good example of a lot of the basic blacksmithing techniques," Gragg explains. He emphasises the joy of the process, as well as the rewarding nature of the outcome – everyone leaves the class with a completed project.


Gragg views blacksmithing as more than just a craft. It's a chance to blend engineering, creativity, and practical skills. He considers it a relevant future craft, transformed from a tool-making tradition into an artistic expression.


Though the discipline requires a certain level of hand-eye coordination and strength, Gragg assures newcomers that much of blacksmithing involves experimentation. As long as the basic safety protocols are met, the way one approaches a project can vary greatly.


As Gragg, says. "I just want to introduce new people to the craft of blacksmithing." And that's exactly what he's doing one fire poker at a time – igniting sparks of interest and fanning the flames of creativity. Being part of a blacksmithing class is more than just learning a new skill. As Gragg explains, it's an immersive experience filled with rich sounds, vibrant colours and the heat of the forge. It's also about community – creating a shared space for learning, creating and appreciating a unique art form.


For those curious to delve deeper into the world of blacksmithing you can reach out to Jonathan at jonathan@gasworksmuseum.org.nz, or through a call or text to 021 453 191. As the places for each class are limited early booking is highly recommended. To keep up with the latest updates, class schedules, and blacksmithing tidbits, follow @dunedin.gasworks.forge on Facebook.








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