Episode #106 – Bob Menard “Blacksmith Royalty”

Today I have Bob Menard, owner of the Ball and Chain Forge, which is mainly a custom architectural blacksmith shop in Portland Maine.  He has been in business since 1990. He is also the editor of the NEB’s quarterly newsletter.  Today we talk about his beginnings, production work, 180 lb plant hooks, what the ?.and collaborative artwork projects.  Bob also gives us some golden nuggets about business insurance for blacksmiths.

Today’s episode sponsorship provided on behalf of New England Blacksmiths, the ABANA affiliate serving Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island.
Check us out at

In fact they have an event comping up called the Age of Iron at Hancock Shaker Village, Pittsfield, MA it’s happening the 1st weekend in August,  5th and 6th for the whole weekend.

And here’s an insider’s tip for my listeners,  any visitor that says they are there for the “Blacksmithing demonstrations”, or for the “Age of Iron” will get the discounted group rate for admission to the village,  this includes all exhibits, not just the Blacksmithing demo. For more details of this event go to their website www.hancockshakervillage.org
For further details contact Cindy Dickinson at the village, she’s the education director cdickinson@hancockshakervillage.org
or DM @HayBudden on Twitter or Instagram, Stephen Conner.


What We Talked About

  • Bob grew up with horses as a child and was always fascinated with the farrier that came over to shoe the horses, mainly the fact that he could produce a fire on the back of his truck. Then in high school, as a sophomore, there was an Early American History class where Bob and 30 other students built a log cabin settlement on the school grounds.  During the construction of this cabin, Bob volunteered to learn how to make some of the hardware needed by using the industrial arts department’s anvil, a gas fired blast furnace and 2 books by Alex Bealer and Alex Weygers, The Complete Blacksmith.
  • Bob started to sell his forged wares very soon after learning the trade, in fact, he sold the second piece he ever made to his high school’s cafeteria manager. Bob continued to grow his business for 15 years and then discovered the New England Blacksmith’s group and ABANA.
  • Bob started selling trinkets at a local shop called “The Candle and Mug”, he developed a line of pieces that were candle centric. Bob still has his notes from these early designs.
  • In Bob’s shop today, they are making custom architectural ironwork, such as gates, fencing, railings etc.
  • Art fabrication is another lucrative income for his shop, this is when an artist comes to him with their sculpture design and hires them to fabricate it.
  • Bob talks about business insurance for blacksmiths due to two recent blacksmith shop fires. He advises having your equipment properly insured for the value of it in today’s dollars.
  • Bob teaches a few classes through the NEB teaching facility and at other well-known craft schools, such as the Adirondack Folk School.
  • Mokume Gane is another focused technique that Bob has been studying and is now teaching students.


Guest Links


A Big Thank You to today’s sponsor –  New England Blacksmiths

If you enjoyed this episode, I would love it if you would support the show by:

Thanks so much for your support!


Websites – DIY or Hire a Web Designer?

Websites: DIY or Hire a pro??

 “It’s never about your resources, it’s about your resourcefulness.” Tony Robbins

Click Here to Get Your Own PDF Copy of This Article


So many options are available for anyone to have a website spotlighting their portfolio. Although I am not a website expert, I have taken a four 10 – 15 week internet business courses, and I have worked with four different website designers over the past five years. Some of them for my artist and podcast websites and some for other companies. I thought it might be helpful to share what I have learned so that it might give you options for a path you want to take in building a new website for your artistic blacksmithing portfolio.

You have 3 choices about getting a new website:

DIY – Do it yourself

Use a “done for you” website template and hosting plan

Hire a web designer

DIY Option

Today there are so many resources available to build your own website easily and without the need of a huge amount of “techy” knowledge.

Things to consider:

  • What’s the best web design for your business model?
  • What’s the learning curve of building and updating your site on your own?
  • Pricing, hosting, email collecting, design?
  • Make sure the website is mobile responsive and look right on a mobile phone and tablet
  • Branding, business name, color schemes and logos
    • Branding and Logo Online Tools and Resources:
      • Canva – This is a free online tool that allows you to make you own graphics that can be used in documents, Facebook, and on your website. Once you sign up for free, Canva will send you design “how to” tips, very useful! https://www.canva.com/
      • Swiftly – This online company pools graphic designers from all over the world and best fits them to your task for only $19 per task.         Swiftly makes it super simple to get any small design task done quickly. From logo improvements, to business card updates, or even photo retouching. https://swiftly.com/
      • 99 Designs – A graphic design online marketplace, you submit a description of a design you are looking for (such as for a website) and then you will receive dozens of different design ideas and then you pick which one you like the best in 7 days. http://99designs.com/

YouTube is a great resource for free instructional videos on creating websites. I really like this YouTube Video – “How To Create a Website/Step By Step Tutorial” by Tutorial Nation. This 15 minute video guides you through choosing a platform, setting up a domain and hosting account, and installing the platform, they use Word Press for the platform. Link to video, https://youtu.be/cp2GzSFvBDQ .

I highly recommend using Word Press to build your website, it’s very easy to use. To see more information, such as features, a getting started guide, Word Press lessons go here, http://codex.wordpress.org/. Another Word Press resource I like to use is a business called WP Curve (http://wpcurve.com/ ). They offer world class developers to help with maintenance, support and any small jobs you need done for a low cost. This is an option if you don’t already have a “go-to” person to change or update your website when needed.

Here is a list of “must haves” that every website needs:

Home page

    • Explains why your site exists, why it benefits your audience, offer free value to build trust and genuinely help your audience.
    • Immediately let your visitors know why they have come to the right place.
    • Have a “Sign up for free updates” box that captures emails above the fold (meaning it is on the computer screen without having to scroll down) – growing your email list is the most important thing you can do to build an audience and gain their trust to eventually buy from you.       Your email list is MORE IMPORTANT than your Facebook page, Twitter followers or anything else, it is your most valuable asset.
    • Keep it simple and “sticky”, don’t add too many links that lead your audience away from your website to another website.

About page – (one of the most visited pages on your website besides the home page)

    • First it should be to educate your audience, not to sell them.       Tell the story of how you became who you are and how you developed what you are offering and why you are doing it. Help them relate to you.
    • This page is where you have them or you lose them. If you start talking about your company first, you might probably lose them. But if you talk about why they should care, why should they read, what problem are you going to solve, or how you’re going to make their lives better, are more likely they stay and keep going.
    • Provide testimonials, social proof.
    • Have a “Sign up for free updates” box that captures emails in the sidebar.
    • A photo of yourself to keep it real and personable.

Shop or product page – If you are selling on your website you will need a gallery or product page – aka your “shop”

    • Product descriptions.
    • What’s in it for the customer?
    • Details about the product – size, dimensions, weight, color, how many pages.
    • Pricing.
    • Guarantee, shipping and refund policy (this can all be on a customer FAQ page).
    • Pictures
    • Add a PayPal button in addition to accepting credit cards.

Contact page

  • Your first and last name.
  • An Address, this can be your home address or a PO Box.
  • Your phone number or 800 number (your visitors are more likely to instantly like and trust you when seeing this)
  • Your email or a contact form where your visitor can email you, there are free WordPress plugins for contact forms.
  • How soon your visitor can expect a response from you, maybe add your working hours.

Social Media buttons

  • If you are using WordPress there are several free plugins that are easy to install and connect each button to your Facebook page, Google+ page and twitter account.

Privacy Policy – a statement that indicates how you are gathering and using a customer’s data.

  • You can Google standard privacy policy samples for templates or you could even write your own.

Hiring A Web Designer

There is a difference between a website designer and a website developer. A designer has strong skills in graphic design, branding, color schemes, and layout. A developer has strong skills with SEO, writing code, and making the site functional. Some people can do both.

Things to consider before hiring a web designer:

  • What can the pro do for your website?
    • Can they make a website from scratch?
    • Will they “a la carte” parts of building a website?
    • Can they make graphic designs into vector formats?
    • Are they familiar with ecommerce and online shopping carts?
    • Do they know about the importance of building an email list and how to integrate that?
    • Do they understand what needs to be “above the fold” on your home page?
  • Ask them to share their 3 latest projects or websites.
    • Contact the owners of the websites to ask them if they would recommend there designer?
  • What is their availability like, how quickly can they get back with you?
  • What are their hours/days that they work?
  • What are their specialties?
    • Shopping cart integrations
    • SEO Tactics– visibility on the internet
    • Artist portfolios and galleries

Before signing a contract make sure you know what happens if you are not happy with the work they provided. Also discuss clear timelines and payment options.

To wrap up, there are many options to choose from to start a website. Just be clear with what you want on your website before you begin. I like to draw out the framework on a piece of paper first, I’m a visual person and that always helps me “see” it in a clear perspective.

Click Here to Get Your Own PDF Copy of This Article

A Blazing BlacksmitHER – Kelly Potter

Blazing BlacksmitHERs are ladies that are forging their own path in blacksmithing and sharing their story.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” John Quincy Adams


Kelly Potter

Where in the world are you?

Dallas, Texas

How did you start blacksmithing? Did you take classes?

I was a jeweler and thought that was what I was going to be! I had moved back to Texas from Colorado and took a jewelry class at the local community college just for some studio time and directed projects when there was an announcement that there would be a blacksmithing class starting the next semester. I had just gotten over major illness and was about 40 pounds underweight, so I really didn’t think that anyone like me should be taking the blacksmithing class. I thought, “WHO does that…” But also thought it could help me be a better jeweler.

I really didn’t have a lot going on so I signed up for the semester class. I was absolutely terrible and didn’t know why people would make their own nails when Home Depot was down the street (especially at the rate I was hammering them out). BUT I noticed it made me happy and I loved using my own hands and getting dirty and wearing myself out making things.

I was introduced to another blacksmith through my teacher and I stopped by his shop after the class ended and worked out a trade; I’d teach him mokume gane if he let me kind of hang out and learn some more blacksmithing. Since then I’ve worked in various shops over the last few years and now actually work alongside my original teacher doing architectural blacksmithing.

Are you a beginner, hobby or professional blacksmith?

Professional blacksmith

What is your favorite blacksmithing technique? Even if you are beginner, what do you enjoy doing the most?

Of course, anything involving a power hammer. But I also enjoy making scrolls and anything that can challenge me to come up with a crazy jig or die. I really appreciate a well thought out jig, or series of jigs.

Do you have a favorite tool? What is it?

I have a few constant favorites: a favorite hammer, a favorite anvil at work. Right now I’m really excited about a starrett straight edge I have. I actually made my fiancé make me a special wooden box with a lock on it and felt lining to keep it safe… and a granite surface plate. Perhaps it’s the jeweler still in me, but any tool I can use to push myself towards more accuracy or consistency is what I’m into right now.

What is the worst thing about blacksmithing?

After a while burns are pretty much no big deal and the physical accidents that happen you get used to but the worst is probably just the way everyone looks at you when you try to go anywhere else after leaving the shop and you are dirty and usually have a hole or two in your work clothes.

Are you a member of a blacksmithing association? If so, which one? What does it do for you?

I was a member of North Texas Blacksmithing Association but haven’t kept up with my membership lately.

Kelly Potter's Quiver Kelly Potter's Railing Lantern by Kelly Potter





A Blazing BlacksmitHER – Kristyn Earles

Blazing BlacksmitHERs are ladies that are forging their own paths in blacksmithing and sharing their story.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” Mary Angelou


Kristyn Earles

Where in the world are you?

Louisville, Kentucky

How did you start blacksmithing? Did you take classes?

I struggle with telling my story on how I started blacksmithing because in many ways I am just starting. There is so much to learn. I’ve always admired traditional craftsmanship and pretty much anything where you can get dirty and make things with your hands. I am a haircutting specialist by trade, we often turn to architecture for inspiration. I have a huge attraction to architectural metalwork. I also read a lot of medieval historical books where they emphasize the importance of the blacksmith, portraying him/her as this nearly mythical entity. I would often refer to my “fantasy” world, where I would make my breakfast and coffee then spend the rest of my day in my “forge”. After watching a blacksmith do a demonstration at the Berea Craft Fair, I was enamored. It hit me like a ton of bricks, this was for me! I think I enrolled in a beginner’s workshop later that week at Kaviar Forge in Louisville, Ky. I worked with artist blacksmith Craig Kaviar for five Saturdays. We learned how to operate a coal and gas forge, make j-hooks, nails, leaves, and finished the class with a fire poker. Mr. Kaviar took me under his wing and after workshop hours helped me construct my very own propane forge! Her name is Hildegard and she looks like a fat pig with an under bite.

Although, my fantasy forge is a thing of the future. My front porch will suffice until that day comes. I keep Hildegard a busy girl. I am looking forward to upcoming workshops including another round at the beginners blacksmithing with Mr. Kaviar and a tong making workshop with Danny Downs at the Kaviar Forge. Craig Kaviar continues to be a major inspiration and mentor to me. I am grateful. I am also anticipating a hammer one on one workshop this spring with Dave Custor.

 Are you a beginner, hobby or professional blacksmith?

Beginner blacksmith

What is your favorite blacksmithing technique? Even if you are beginner, what do you enjoy doing the most?

making shapes with red hot iron 🙂

Do you have a favorite tool? What is it?

One that I don’t have yet. I’m pretty much working with bottom of the barrel right now

What is the worst thing about blacksmithing?

All of the trial and error! Right now, I struggle with just learning the lingo. I went from using zero tools to just about every tool. I think also its hard for a beginner in anything because there are so many opinions about what’s right, what’s wrong and general naysayers. For instance, I wanted to just buy a rounding hammer and ask for suggestions on a beginners blacksmithing forum. Of course, I got “make your own”.   I’ve been blacksmithing for like 4 months! Give me a break.

Are you a member of a blacksmithing association? If so, which one? What does it do for you?

ABANA. I’ve gotten a lot of nice discounts on classes and from some suppliers.

Do you have anything else you would like to add?

I do want to thank all the ladies on the podcast for giving me a look into their world. They really keep me motivated!

Kristyn Earles leaf Kristyn Earles


A Blazing BlacksmitHER – Kim Hart From Australia

Blazing BlacksmitHERs are ladies that are forging their own path in blacksmithing and sharing their story.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader” John Quincy Adams


Kim Hart

Where in the world are you?


How did you start blacksmithing? Did you take classes?

I’ve always had an interest in smithing but not the farrier side of it. The artist and tool side for self-sufficiency is what interests me. My husband died about 7 years ago leaving me with a couple of kids under 10 to fend for. I had to learn lots of woodwork techniques as I live in a 19thC weatherboard and the maintenance is pretty full on. I can handle plumbing, motors etc but woodwork was not my forte. I taught myself, along with the help of friends, to build a new deck on my house in 2010. Since then I’ve added plastering, joinery, carpentry and cabinetmaking to my skills and thought it was about time to learn some metalwork techniques. In the meantime I’ve created a permaculture garden on my half acre block with a view to becoming self-sufficient within 5 years. Thus, I wanted to be able to make practical tools as well as beautiful things, so I took up blacksmithing in early 2014. I have attended a course with Ray Gard, Master Blacksmith in Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. He says I have the passion so will probably be pretty good at it; I’d like to think so but we’ll see!

My background is professional winemaking for nearly 30years, business management and now secondary school teaching math and science. I’m 53 and busting to try some artist blacksmithing – I really can’t wait to master the techniques to give life in steel to some of my ideas! Maybe I was a blacksmith in a past life – don’t know!!!

Are you a beginner, hobby or professional blacksmith?

Beginner blacksmith

What is your favorite blacksmithing technique? Even if you are beginner, what do you enjoy doing the most?

I love everything about this craft. I really get off on trying a technique and being able to predict EXACTLY what the material will do. It constantly spins me out what you can get a hard and apparently unyielding substance like metal to really do, and I absolutely enjoy exploring this.

Do you have a favorite tool? What is it?

I love my anvil and hammers – they are the core of the craft for me.

What is the worst thing about blacksmithing?

Nothing at all – I just love it – even the dirty firework and cleaning up.

I’m a bit of a grub anyway so this is just normal for me!

Are you a member of a blacksmithing association? If so, which one? What does it do for you?

Yes – I belong to ABANA. This gives me a great global perspective on what’s happening out there as well as some fantastic practical plans to follow. I also belong to Blacksmith Doris in VIC Australia, and appreciate their support and regular contact. And now BlacksmitHER- I got excited when I saw this one!

Do you have anything else you would like to add?

I’m really passionate about this craft – it’s the best thing I’ve ever done getting involved in it. My teenage sons, family and friends think it’s great, and it has been really good for me in terms of keeping focus. I have a chronic illness (as does Bex Simon) that prevents me from working other than occasional part-time stuff and blacksmithing has been great in that it keeps my mind and body active. When I’m not working in my garden I’m working in my shop and that suits me just fine! The only drawback is that I can’t do hot work on fire risk days – something we have a lot of in Australia during our summer. However, I use that down time to plan, sketch, draw and organize so it can be an advantage also. All in all it’s been a bit of a life-changing exercise – haven’t felt so inspired for years!

Kim Hart


Registration Opens For CanIRON X – Canada’s Next National Blacksmithing Event


 Press Release:

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia, Canada (November 10, 2014) – The Cape Breton Blacksmiths Association (CBBA) has opened registration for the 10th Canadian National Blacksmithing Conference, CanIRON X. The event is happening July 2nd – 5th, 2015 in the historic village of Baddeck, Nova Scotia; Canadian home to legendary inventor Alexander Graham Bell. Event organizers are hoping the spirit of innovation inherent in Bell’s work in Baddeck will stoke the imagination and ambitions of the hundreds of participants who will be travelling from across Canada and abroad to attend the blacksmith gathering.

Prolific and acclaimed metal sculptor Albert Paley of Rochester, NY, will be giving a two-day lecture on design during the conference, while a line-up of prominent blacksmiths from the U.S., Canada, and Europe demonstrate and teach techniques and methods of forging metal.

 “This event is not just for people who are practicing blacksmiths,” says CBBA president, Grant Haverstock. “It will inspire artists and designers of all media, anyone with an involvement or interest in metal, and those who are totally unfamiliar with the craft,” says Haverstock.

“We are designing a CanIRON event that will be exciting for anyone who walks through the gate” says Haverstock. “Artists will be showcasing pieces of ironwork in a gallery showcase, there will be a youth-led component for young smiths, a vendors section, great musical entertainment and plenty of forging. This is all, of course, in addition to the outstanding headlining blacksmith demonstrations and lectures we have arranged.”

The four-day CanIRON X event will also celebrate the blacksmithing craft as part of Canada’s Craft Year in 2015 and the International Year of Light.

For more information and to register for the event, please visit http://canironx.ca/.

What Your Art Business Will Cost You

Costs and expenses are not something to be ignored in your art business.

This article is from a colleague of mine, Alyson Stanfield, while it is not specific to blacksmith businesses, it is relevant to any art business.  She is an artist advocate and business mentor at ArtBizCoach.com. This article was originally published in her Art Biz Insider, which is sent weekly to thousands of artists who are elevating their businesses. Start your subscription now and get Alyson’s 6 free art-marketing video lessons at http://artbizcoach.com.  I have taken Alyson’s Art Biz Bootcamp , it was extremely helpful and I am still learning from the course content.  If you would like to learn more about this incredible course click here: Art Biz Bootcamp (note this affiliate link is a tried and tested resource by yours truly, I encourage you to take a look).

What Your Art Business Will Cost You, by Alyson Stanfield

When you own your own business, it’s important to look at expenses as well as income in order to remain profitable.

I looked into various (not all – not even education or supplies and materials!) expenses for artists and thought it might be interesting to share the results. Feel free to add to our completely unscientific list in a comment on the Art Biz Blog.

Studio Space

These numbers are based on responses I received through Twitter and Facebook.
(sf = square feet)

Central Virginia (476sf): $355/month
Key West, FL (750sf – 3 rooms): $1600 for studio + store front

Ravenswood, Chicago, IL (600+ sf): $540/month
Downtown Chicago, IL (sf n/a): $485/month
Gages Lake, IL (1200sf): $500/month with utilities

Albuquerque, NM (175sf): $200/mo in nonprofit art center, includes utilities, not air-conditioned
Colorado Springs, CO (400sf): $455 includes utilities

San Francisco, CA (154sf): $431/month and says most of her friends pay around $800 for an equivalent space
San Diego, CA (185sf): $550/month is on the high side because it’s in a retail space and on the art walk path
Los Angeles, CA (800sf, skylight, private bathroom, gated parking): $1050/month

Chilturn, Victoria, Australia: $120AU/week (about $105US) + $1100AU year in utilities

Inventory Business Management System

eArtist: $125 software installation

GYST: $59 for GYSTBasic and $129 for GYSTPro software installation

Artwork Archive: $49/year for the Apprentice version and $99 for Master (unlimited inventory), Cloud-based

Email Delivery Platform

MailChimp is free up to 2,000 names. You can pay a little for more features. Those rates start at $10/month for up to 500 contacts.

Constant Contact starts at $20/month for up to 500 contacts.

iContact starts at $14/month for up to 500 contacts.

See a review of the various options (don’t forget to scroll to page 2) here.

Business Licenses

Registering a Doing-Business-As name with your state. In Colorado, this fee is $20 for a sole proprietorship.

Applying for a sales tax license is $16 (for 2 years) in Colorado with a one-time deposit of $50 that is refundable. It is an additional $20 fee (for 4 years) in my city.

Entry Fees

Average: $15-40 per entry for art shows and festivals.

In contrast, a gallery booth at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2012 was $55,000.

Click here for the art fair cheat sheet.

Booth Set-Up

Textile artist Lisa Call spent $11,380 on her first booth for the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore. Of that, about $5,000 was for items she will reuse. That means about $6,400 for each additional year she does the show. See her breakdown.

The booth fee for the 2014 American Craft Council wholesale show in Baltimore was $800-1500.

Flower photographer Patti Hankins offers these numbers:

  • I started with grid walls and an EZ Up Canopy. The grid walls were about $900 and the EZ up was under $200. I upgraded to my current booth in stages.
  • Booth fees range from $75 to $1000 for craft shows. I often do a booth and a half indoors. Flower & garden show fees are much higher.
  • My tent is a TrimLine that was $1000 for the basic setup plus more for extra canopies, sta-bars, etc.
  • Pro Panels are more than $3000. I have enough walls for a 20-foot booth, bins, desk, and shelf.
  • Chevy Cargo Van was more than I care to remember. Having a van to haul everything is so much easier than dealing with a trailer, and it’s so nice to have a vehicle just for shows.
  • Bonus info … And for photographers who plan on doing their own printing, you’ll need a professional photo printer. My Epson 9800 was $5000.


Domain name (URL): around $15/year at 1and1.com and GoDaddy, although they offer very inexpensive first-year prices to hook you. NameCheap is $10.69/year.

Website hosting: $4-20/month and up

After watching my previous hosting service and platform deteriorate badly in 2013, I vowed to stay away from the numerous companies bought up by EIG. Here’s why. I now pay a lot more for more reliable up-time and better customer service at LiquidWeb.

I found this review site to be particularly helpful when searching for a new Web hosting service.

Web designer: fees up to $75/hour

Printed Material

Graphic Designers: up to $75/hour

Business Cards
Moo: $19.99 for 100 MiniCards or $39.98 for 100 Classic (regular size)
GotPrint: $18.10 for 100 standard cards (14pt Premium Uncoated Cover)
VistaPrint: $13.39 for 500 (front only)
OvernightPrints: $39.95 front+back for 500 Art Biz Coach cards

4×6” Postcards (+ shipping to my Colorado home (500 quantity) color front and black back)
PrintingforLess: $131.62 (120# gloss color)
GotPrint: $47.01 (14pt Gloss Coated Cover with UV)
Modern Postcard: $144.35

500 4-color, Tri-Fold, 100lb Gloss (folds to 3.6” x 8.5”)
Modern Postcard: $406
PsPrint: $308.70 (they had a 60% off promotional discount when I checked – total =$123.48!)

Blurb: $12.99/each for 7×7” square with 20 pages
PrintingForLess: $4.04 each for 5.5×8.5” with 20 pages when you print 250 copies
PsPrint: $10.60/unit when you print just 25 copies (gloss color interior + 13 pt matte cover) or $2.514/unit for 250 copies


$20-35 an hour for sole proprietorships, which most artists are. More for corporations. The more complicated your books and tax preparations are, the more you should expect to pay.

Virtual Assistants or Online Business Managers
$35 and up per hour

Studio assistants
$10-20 an hour

Yes, your art business is an investment and the expenses can add up. It’s critical to keep excellent financial records.

The United States Tax Court recently ruled in favor of artist Susan Crile who had been claiming expenses for 40 years without seeing much profit. She beat the IRS!


ABANA 2014 Conference Wrap Up

With anticipation of the new Anvil’s Ring Fall edition arriving in my mailbox any day now and hearing that it is about the recent ABANA Conference in Delaware….. it made me remember my own experiences I had at the ABANA conference.

I shot a quick video the first day I was there, you can view it here.  This was my first ABANA conference and it was overwhelming!  So many people to visit with and meet for the first time, so many demonstrations happening at the same time, so many tools to comb through at the tailgating tent, so much of everything!  Luckily I had 3 1/2 days to fit it all in!

The conference was held at the Delaware state fair grounds in Harrington.  The grounds were perfect for holding 15 vendors, a covered pavilion for tailgating, 10 tents for demo’s and teaching, an exhibit hall for the gallery, and several smaller meeting rooms for lectures and slide shows.

The demonstrators were from all over the world Spain, Russia, Chili, Germany, Ukraine, Czech Republic, US and Mexico.  They were all spectacular to watch.  Here is a full list of the demonstrators and what they demonstrated:

  • Antonio Diaz Garcia – forge pressed sculptures
  • Matt Harris and Michael Robear – 6 ft sculpture focused on joinery
  • Joe Szilaski – Bladesmith
  • Kerry Stagmer – swordsmith, silversmith
  • Matt Stagmer – Bladesmith, master grinder
  • Sam Salvati – Bladesmith, blacksmith
  • John Patrick Mitchell – Swordsmith
  • Ilya Alekseyev – swordsmith, armorer
  • Tony Swatton – bladesmith, swordsmith
  • Anatolly Rudick and Bruce Jarrell – Table with “Cabriole” legs
  • Roberta Elliot – dysfunctional spoon
  • Mike “Smyth” Boone – forged figures
  • Jeffery Funk and Rachel David – joinery
  • Francisco Gazitua assisted by son Manuel Hubner, Andy Dohner, Zack Noble, David Fisher, Sven Bauer – Cruz del Sur or the Southern Cross sculpture
  • Jiri Bat’a and Artisans of the Anvil Chris Loscar, Patrick Weiss, Andrew Molinaro, Paul Janusz and Ryan Caldwell – Ancient Tipee sculpture
  • Daniel Miller and Eric Dewey – fireplace set using a flypress
  • Brett Moten and Dennis Dusek – hybrid tension joint
  • Punzo Family –  Coppersmiths from Mexico
  • The Patient Order of Meticulous Metalsmiths – Coffee Grinder
  • Colonial Williamsburg Blacksmiths – Steve Mankowsk and a teram of 3 – 18th century weathervane
  • Lee Sauder – iron smelt
  • Darryl Nelson – Rams head cheese slicer
  • Gerald Boggs – wizard bottle opener
  • Mark Aspery – teaching tent
  • John McLellan – teaching tent

Clay Spencer and I were talking about what he thought of this year’s conference compared to the past conferences, he said the most impressive part of this conference was the quality and quantity of the pieces in the gallery.  They were exceptionally impressive, here is a video of the women blacksmiths that submitted their work in the gallery, click here.

All in all it was very nicely organized event, the one and only food vendor left little to be desired and I’ve already heard that there will be gourmet food vendors at the next conference in Salt Lake City 2016.

I’ll leave you with this silly video of me having a little fun in the tailgating tent.