Alexander Bazes of Westchester, New York, says that for him, blacksmithing has become a bit of an obsession. “I just have to do it,” Bazes said while tending a hot forge during a class at the New England School of Metalwork in Auburn.

“When the steel is hot, it just comes alive, and it’s unlike anything else.”

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Apparently Bazes isn’t the only who feels that way. This summer, students from more than 20 states have descended on the campus of the small nonprofit for classes in blacksmithing and bladesmithing, the art of making knives. It’s gotten so popular, said Dereck Glaser, the school’s director, that they had to add another building.

“I think after the economy tanked and so many things that were nebulous went away, people want something more,” he said. “They wanted to be part of something more concrete.”

The school offers a variety of blacksmithing classes. Bazes’ class, Cooking With Fire, focuses on making your own cooking utensils. “Like a lot of kids, I liked playing with fire when I was a kid,” Bazes said. “And I think I’ve never stopped playing.”

The school, which is undergoing an expansion, was founded by Maine Oxy to help ensure a supply of well-trained metalsmiths for its workforce.

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Correction: This story was revised at 9:54 a.m., Aug. 29, 2014, to correctly identify Dereck Glaser, director of the New England School of Metalwork in Auburn. A previous version of this story misidentified Glaser.