Episode #61 – John McLellan “The CBA Prez and the 2016 ABANA Conf Co-Chair

John McLellan is the owner of McLellan Blacksmithing in Loomis, California. He’s also the president of the California Blacksmith Association and is serving as co-chair for the 2016 ABANA Conference taking place in Salt Lake City in July. John began his business shoeing horses and now primarily does high-end architectural and interior design metalwork.

Fireplace Doors balcony railing Wine cellar door

What We Talked About

  • John’s interest in blacksmithing began when he was 8 years old and inherited his grandfather’s ranching equipment. He taught himself the trade by reading library books. In the 1970s he joined the California Blacksmith Association.
  • McLellan Blacksmithing opened in 1977 and focused on shoeing horses, a skill John learned in a high school regional occupation program. He took the class for two years and then taught it for five years after graduating.
  • He got into architectural blacksmithing in the mid-1980s, hired several employees and now works almost exclusively designing intricate metalwork for high-end homes. He spends most of his time now doing design, drawing and bids, which means less hands-on work than in the past.
  • About 10 years ago, John hired a staff of 12 employees to work on the renovation of a local cathedral. Built in the 1880s, it needed a complete refurbishing. His crew did all the metalwork including light fixtures, railings, crosses, hand rails and door hardware.
  • McLellan Blacksmithing is in an 8,000 square foot shop in Loomis, which includes a machine shop, a fabrication area, a place to paint out back, a showroom up front and class space upstairs. They offer monthly basic blacksmithing classes from September through April.
  • John is currently serving as the 2016 ABANA Conference co-chair. The conference will be held July 13-16 in Salt Lake City. John’s been working on arrangements for attendees including transportation, lodging, and food. He says they will have several food vendors including food trucks with gourmet options. The Saturday night banquet will be a catered, sit-down meal.
  • The conference is still accepting donations for the auction as well as pieces to showcase at the gallery. Please see the ABANA website for details.
  • John says there’s a great lineup of demonstrators and sponsors this year and about 350 people have signed up to attend so far. Registration is still open and the cost will increase after April 1.
  • One of the features of the conference is the Education Tents, which will offer demonstrations throughout the day with hands-on project work after each demo. Some of the demos include Level 2 grill work, punches and chisels, animal head work and making bottle openers.
  • There will also be some forging competitions in the evenings. Topics include chain making, animal heads and tong making. These competitions are free to participate in with conference attendance.

 johns forge

Guest Links

Thank you to today’s sponsor the ABANA 2016 Salt Lake City Conference

ABANA Conf Poster

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