Saturday, June 06, 2020

'Distancing' at the Wareham Forge

'Can I attend a blacksmithing course at the Wareham Forge?'

Benefit vs Risk

A) Exposure to Infection

First, please read and consider ‘The Risks - Know Them’ by Dr. E Bromage. (Originally posted May 3)
1) “ We know that at least 44% of all infections--and the majority of community-acquired transmissions--occur from people without any symptoms (asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people). You can be shedding the virus into the environment for up to 5 days before symptoms begin.”
2) “Some experts estimate that as few as 1000 SARS-CoV2 infectious viral particles are all that will be needed” (to get infected).
“ The principle is viral exposure over an extended period of time. In all (the illustrated) cases, people were exposed to the virus in the air for a prolonged period (hours). Even if they were 50 feet away … , even a low dose of the virus in the air reaching them, over a sustained period, was enough to cause infection “
3)" ... with general breathing, 20 viral particles minute into the environment, ... (worst case presented) ... you would need 1000 viral particles divided by 20 per minute = 50 minutes.
4) ”Speaking increases the release of respiratory droplets about 10 fold; ~200 virus particles per minute.”

5) Although not included directly in Dr. Bromage's commentary, physical activities will increase volume of breath, draw from the lower lungs, and frequency of breath - all increasing both number of virus particles expelled and their penetration into the surrounding air. (in the commentary, the case of a choir practice is used) 

The other important consideration is 'asymptomatic' individuals. 
Reference information taken from 'Coronavirus Incubation Period' by
1) " A new study led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health suggests that the median incubation period for SARS-CoV-2—the new coronavirus that causes the respiratory illness COVID-19—is 5.1 days. "
" The analysis suggests that about 97.5% of people who develop symptoms of SARS-CoV-2 infection will do so within 11.5 days of exposure. "

There is a third element. What I call 'who do you trust' ? At point of writing (June 6) the available information indicates that the bulk of Ontario COVID-19 cases have been in the general 905 area. (1)

B) Distancing

The 'standard' that has been well communicated is '6 foot distancing'

The image above is from the main (coal) forge room at the Wareham Forge. 
The stool is placed 6 feet away from the anvil. 
It would be also possible for an individual to stand in the open doorway into this room (which would be to the extreme left of this image). However, with the required air exhaust system active, air would be driven past anyone in that location, directly over the demonstrator. 

The second image is shot inside the main working floor, from the rear layout table towards the entrance. For courses, normally the propane forge is placed at the rear milk crate stack. The anvil to the right rear is fixed, the one to the left rear can be shifted. Each of the red arrows indicates exactly 6 feet.
You can see it would be just possible to create a six foot distance between the triangle between forge and those two working stations. 
A demonstrator could possibly work from a second propane forge placed on the layout table at front left, with another anvil placed at the front milk crates. (2)

C) Observation

Including peripheral vision - colour would be clear focus.
 This image is taken from the perspective of an observer in the main forge room, at the location illustrated in the first image.
The piece of work on the anvil is the largest object made during the standard 'Introduction to Blacksmithing' course. 

How effectively do you think you would be able to observe, understand, then duplicate physical techniques illustrated from this visual distance? 

It should also be noted that the propane forges available at the Wareham Forge are not capable of generating the temperatures required for forge welding. The normal practice has been to use the coal forge for individual instruction on this technique.The kind of close observation required to properly learn forge welding is not possible under distancing rules


1) Typical workshop courses run 16 - 18 hours. Individuals will be working in a confined area for that exposure time, even if attempting to maintain distancing.
2) The activity of blacksmithing is a physical one, increased lung activity is certainly to be expected.
3) The existing layout of the Wareham Forge makes it just possible to provide the required social distancing :
  a) One single student for use of coal forge
  b) Two students for use of propane forge
4) The requirements of distancing greatly reduce the value of instruction.

5) Students present an unknown risk, not only to each other, but in this case most significantly to the instructor. ( 3 )

Stated Policy

On June 3, the Government of Ontario extended its original 'declaration of emergency' instructions to June 30

i) At the point of writing (June 6) the Wareham Forge will be cancelling any existing workshop programs to June 30.

ii) Full refunds will be sent to any who had previously made bookings with deposits (before the start of the current pandemic).

iii) Evaluation of the situation as time proceeds will be made at the beginning of each month, concerning the possible activities for that month (about July 1 for July month)

iv) At this point, it is unlikely any previously announced programs will be mounted, at a minimum to September.

All students must completely self isolate for a minimum of SEVEN DAYS before attending any program at the Wareham Forge. This includes ALL FAMILY MEMBERS (no individual outside contact of any kind).

If you wish to proceed with blacksmithing training in the near future, I can recommend the following alternate instructors:
David Robertson / Hammer & Tongs / Walkerton /
Robb Martin / THAK Ironworks / Floridale /
Sandra Dunn / TwoSmiths / Kitchener /

1) For the purposes of this discussion, the ideal would be a simple map with cases indicated. Lots of government and official news sites provide raw numbers, but actual maps showing case locations have proved difficult to source.

2) It would be possible to increase protection for the demonstrator in the indicated layout by hanging a plexi screen between that work station and students standing no closer than the between the two workmates. 

3) I fit into TWO of the indicated three 'risk' groups for COVID-19 as indicated by Public Health Ontario.

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February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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