Recommended Posts

Hey guys, I have been invited to do a demo at our local scottish highland games coming in august, I did one before, last year and it went pretty good. This is my second demo so I am very new at this demoing thing, so if you guys got any advice on things i could ad to my show, last year I made some spoons and forks and a axe out of leaf spring. I sure do apprciate your time.



Angus......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One time I was helping a guy demo that was a good front man, he did all the talking so i got to just work...I spent all day making twisted link welded chain from 5/16 round. It turned out to be a great demo, folks could come by in a few hours and see how long the chain was getting. This led to conversations about how valuable chain might have been , if there was no Ace hardware store on the corner, etc. A lot of smiths won't forge weld in a public demo, and for good reason, but if you keep a weather eye on your crowd, it's fun and educational. I came out with about 45 inches of chain, It sold for $180-USA. What to make is often the hardest part of the weekend for me. I'm not keen on public interaction, I usually pick a long involved project that weeds out the 5-minute lookers. It's just what I do, pick something you are comfortable with, and get to work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The main ting I try to do demoing is keep a steady patter going. It holds the interest of the crowd.
Finnr

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Demos are fun, I love to do them. Especially if there are kids around. One of the main things I make is a leaf key fob. Takes less than 15 min to make and really "Wow's" the crowd to see a piece of stock turn into something pretty and useful before their eyes. I do talk with the crowd...IMO if you don't the will loose interest pretty fast and move on. Most of my demos are for education, the main reason to do a demo in the first place, but I do make some decent sales during them. Sometimes I will turn the tables and ask the crowd a question or 2, they enjoy it. I will, depending on the circumstances, allow a young viewer work the lever for my forge, this way they can say that they helped me 'make' whatever. Just us good judgement. I will pick a kid that seems to be totally involved and will listen and do what I ask.
Anything with a twist just amazes folks. Don't understand it but it does. I have done some forge welding at demos but it is rare...to much can go wrong>>> too dangerous. I know of a smith that uses a clear plexiglass shield in front of his anvil when he does any forge welding...very smart!
Enjoy the demo yourself, the crowd will notice that you are having a good time and they in turn will have a good time and be more apt to stick around. (and hopefully buy something!;) )
Let us know how it turns out!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like to have several Christopher crosses precut, and then hold up the piece, and say " this is going to be a cross in about 3 minutes that looks like this one (holding up a finished one), and then inevitably, someone will say " my grandpa used to be a blacksmith" and that opens the door for me to respond, "got any of his tools left?" always it's good to make a few nails, bend em over a bick and make a ring, clean it up and give it to a cute kid, that is always a winner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

divermike great responce about grand pa tools, the other one I get all the time is do you shoe horses? no i like to pet them. in my demo I set up 3 or 4 items and make them in order those that are intrested will stick around for a couple of demos. If you have a helper to keep your fire right it is a big help. then all you have to do is hammering anf talking. and if your ambisious chew gum.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow good advice guys I can use all your post thanks very much. I aspecialy like, got any of his tools left question. Thanks guys ill take picts to show ya all.

Angus....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When doing a demo, don't expect to get "production work" done. Leave the big projects at home. You are there to ... play to the crowd. So small quick little projects always go over better. Otherwise you "lose your crowd". A friend did a demo one time where he just forged up a layered damascus billet to make a knife out of. It was ...sort of ... interesting to a few people, but mostly not. They saw some "work" being done with little understanding of what was being made and never really saw any finished product. It was also hard for him to really explain what he was doing and why.

I usually make the leaf keyrings. Great simple demo project. People can see the end of that 3/8 round rod turn into a leaf before their eyes in a few minutes. And a few minutes more they can then see the finished leaf key ring. And then I often see some little kid who has been intently watching/listening as I formed up each step and explained it all to the crowd, and I gift it to that kid. The smiles from that kid and everybody else are worth it. And YES, you will then also get to sell a bunch of them - either already made or the next one you are working on! Sometimes you will even have a line of people waiting to buy the next one - something they SAW being made!

Axes, knives, swords may be fun to work on, but big projects like that will quickly lose your crowd. It is better to make a little project they can see finished in a few minutes. And something they can see a use for in their own life.

Projects? Nails - always a good quick project that leads to an interesting history lesson for the talk. And, at a buck a piece you will be surprised at how many you sell! Leaf key rings - great for demonstrating lots of techniques. And a consistent sales item. S-hooks and plant hooks. Quick, simple, easy to add extra design details. And people can see a specific use for them back home. Ditto wall hooks - for coats, keys, hats, etc. Mini horse shoes - just a simple U shape bent out of flat stock, with heel cauks turned down and a groove fullered in where the nail holes would be punched. Kids love them.

A variation on the leaf key ring project. Make up a little bottom swage block with a design or a face chiseled/punched down into it. In use you flatten and spread out the end of a rod (kind of like for a leaf but more rounded). Then heat it up and hammer it down into that bottom block. Now cut it off and draw out a "tail" to curl in interesting shapes (like on a leaf key ring). That "face" almost instantly formed on the iron as you hammer it into that bottom block/swage really amazes people. And it makes an interesting ... key ring or necklace pendant or zipper pull or window shape pull or ....

If you are "selling" stuff, you really should have an extra person there to take care of that while you are working/demonstrating the smithing part. It is hard to divide your time between the showmanship and the salesman. And have fun. Your attitude and enthusiasm will get reflected in the crowd.

Hope these humble rambling thoughts help.

Mikey - that grumpy ol' German blacksmith out in the Hinterlands

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow if any one wants to be a great demostrater just read Mike Amelings book on how to do demos. That is the info I have been looking for, I really like the leaf keychain idea. I had people oooing and ahhing over my horseshoe knife I made last year it was very easy and quick to make. I will make me a leaf swag, what would be a good way to do that, being ive never used a metal swag and im still figuring things out here. Thanks for the great info Mike that is some good stuff you told me. Thanks.



Angus

No its not a skirt, and yes im going commando

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey, just sharing some humble thoughts learned along the way.

Since your demo is going to be at a Scottish event, you might want to do a couple of these Scottish style flint strikers. Between the forging, curling, and heat-treating, you have around the same amount of time/work involved as some of the leaf key rings. And you end up with a pretty decorative "Scottish" item.

Scottish6.jpg

And a slightly more stretched out wedge shaped version.
G8Scottish.jpg

And if you then take a break from hammering and show how to use it to start a fire, it really does impress people.

I made these from sections of a modern hayrake tooth. I buy the replacement rake teeth down at the local farm store. They are around 1080 or 1095 high carbon tool steel, and around 1/4 inch in diameter. After you straighten that rake tooth out, you end up with around 30 to 36 inches of 1/4 inch high carbon tool steel rod - and all for around $1.30! You can't buy new tool steel for that price. These just have that yellow or green paint on them.

I made these out of around 5 to 6 inches of that 1/4 rod - depending upon how much "curl" you want in that snail shape. I flatten/square it up first. Then I taper the one end, bend it back, and hammer that "snout" tight. I then bend the pointed end out a bit to get it out of the way of the spiral. I then taper the other end and start spiral-ing it up. I bend the end, then clamp that end in the corner of my vice and just pull/bend the rod around itself. Heat another section, clamp it, and pull/bend around another section of the spiral. Goes pretty quick --- and EVEN! When I get enough curled up, I tap that other pointed end back over against the spiral - either curling the very tip, or running it up along the outside of the spiral a bit. A couple taps on each side of the edge while stood up on the anvil straightens that teardrop shape. Then do your heat-treat as you would any flint striker.

They are kind of ... kewl looking. And have that 18th century Scottish link as well.

Mikey - that grumpy ol' German blacksmith out in the Hinterlands

p.s. And I luv the shape/style. It has a Mediterranean feeling to it - like I've seen the shape in some early cultures around there. Possibly Minoan.

Edited by Mike Ameling

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Making nails sometimes create a gasp, "its a nail". 1/4 inch stock, have your nail header on the ready, short taper, appropriate length and 3/4 way cut on the hardy, into the header and form the head. Its fun and kids enjoy to take part dressing the head.
Michael

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I sure do appreciate the advice Mike I just keep talking to you I wont have to read all those blacksmithing books anymore. I like your stricker designe it works, I usually use strut springs off of cars for my strickers but that hay rake idea is even better. Thanks for the great ideas. I made me a nail header didnt quit work out ill try it again though.


Angus.

_______________
No its not a skirt and yes im going regimental.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's been lots of great advice and ideas posted already but I have two bits to toss in.

Try to find at least a couple things that are common to the event where you're demoing. Scottish games need a couple Scottish trinkets, Mike's strikers beng a perfect example. They're fast to make and have a large change in shape to show the crowd. Finding a couple more Scottish items in a similar vein would be good.

Another example would be if you're demoing at an event with horses like our state fair when the horse events are going on. I do horse shoe hoof picks, trivets and wall hooks. I have farrier buddies and can get plenty of old horse shoes.

There's a place for large projects at demos. I don't plan on finishing one but I certainly keep something big ready for the fire. I use it to draw a crowd. Nothing draws people faster than about 4-5" of 3/4-1" steel at yellow heat. I work it for that heat and if a crowd begins to form I'll set it aside and do one of the demo specials I like for all the reasons stated above.

Big stuff for a WOW factor hook and a small fast project with plenty of transition to hold their interest.

Demoing is entertainment, be entertaining, be an entertainer. Smile, have fun, tell stories and jokes and be sure to laugh at the one or two blacksmith jokes you'll hear over and over and over and . . . ;)

Frosty

Edited by Frosty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mike I have to ask! What is the time period on those strikers. I haven't seen that style before!
Finnr

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The British museum gave that striker that generic 18th century time period designation. Don't you just love those hundred year ranges?

But ... the Dutch were trading one style of striker somewhat similar to that one, to the Seneca Indians in the mid 1600's up in NY State - out of their colony of New Amsterdam (which became New York when the Brits captured it). That style of striker had that spiral curl on both ends. So the similarities are there. And that note about the Scotts dealings with France and Flanders shows the link. The Museum had several Scottish flint strikers, but only had that one pictured in their Catalog of the Exhibits from 1926. Same thing with the Irish flint strikers. Descriptions of several, but only a picture of one. And that one is very similar to a Burgundian (French) striker from the 1400's through 1700's.

There are literally dozens of different flint striker styles out there. The ... adventure ... is finding them in the books and museums. And then you have to figure out HOW to make them.

There's just something about the shape/style of that Scottish one. It draws the eye. But one lady wanted two as close to exactly the same As I could make them. She turned them upside down, and pointed out how they then resemble a Ram's Head - especially with that pointed end having an extra tiny curl on it to form the "eye". Yeah, she and her family were Ram's football fans - instead of Scottish.

Mikey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well thanks for all the advice guys, the demo went great I made a lot of old style screw drivers and spoons during the demo for people to see. They loved it, very good turn out.


Angus.
______________
No its not a called a skirt and yes im regimental.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there,
I've one a good amount of demo's and I agree with what others have said-make something fairly simple. People at an event usually have about a 15 minute attention span. Keep talking about what you are doing and why. Chat with people. I say that the only time I shoe a horse is to scare it away-then I say "shoo". Stupid humour, but it always gets a laugh, which keeps people watching.
Mark
BTW-Too much information on the going commando thing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Frosty, for a "big" project are we talking tongs, pokers, and shovels? Wares that take many heats and operations and stuff that is typically made before time, but can be finished in several short sessions? Or something more intricate and massive that will never get finished in the week?

Phil

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Frosty, for a "big" project are we talking tongs, pokers, and shovels? Wares that take many heats and operations and stuff that is typically made before time, but can be finished in several short sessions? Or something more intricate and massive that will never get finished in the week?

Phil


Phil:

Sorry, I didn't see your question earlier.

By large I mean a large mass of steel to get hot and work on for a bit to get a crowd gathered. 4-5" of 1" sq steel heated yellow can be felt on bare flesh like the face a good 50' away sometimes farther if it's cool.

A large door pull, knocker, etc. are what I used for my teasers. Something with good mass that will radiate a lot of heat when drawn from the fire is the ticket. Andirons would be perfect.

And no there's no need to finish them at the demo. Fact is only someone already interested would hang around while you heat and beat something heavy. Normal audiances want to see a start to finish project or element that can be done in 10-15 mins tops.

To pull off something like a fire poker you do it in sections, the pokey part, the shaft if decorated and the finial. Basically three demos in one product.

People LOVE watching twisting. After showing someone a simple twist I had probably 20-25 people hang around while I made a 3" pineapple twist. It takes time to incised four faces, twist, square up, incise again, twist again and brush off the scale. I'm saying a good 20+ minutes which is forever at a demo. I didn't loose a single spectator and ended up doing several different twists as demos that day instead of my usual things.

Anyway, large hot iron is like the beacon in a light house. Use it to draw a crowd and then do your demo. The work on the big iron should be real of course, don't just pull it out and wave it around you'll lose the crowd immediately if you do that.

A loud anvil is of course the alarm to go with the beacon. ;)

Frosty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not really the same as a demo at a fair, but the old tool group I'm in had a gathering recently and I did a little nail making demo,which went over very well. I'd put together a small kit that would fit in a box. MAPP gas forge and for an anvil, a 30 lb chunk of 3x3x12 steel, stood on end in a fitted plywood box, couple hammers, nail header and some 1/4 rod. Our host was nice enough to chainsaw me a white oak stump to work on, it wouldn't fit in the car for the ride home but someone with a truck brought it about halfway home for me, have to go pick it up soon for the backyard smithy.

Anyway, set up after lunch and started knocking out a few nails, within a couple of minutes the group gathered round and the kids took a real shine to making nails. At first with some helping hands from me but they picked it up quick and were very proud of their work.

Now, I pounded out attempts at artistic stuff of a good year before I figured out how to make something functional, like an S hook. I really should have started with nails, live and learn.

17750.attach

17751.attach

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's a demo, no question about it.

A demo is theater and what you make is less important than the attention and curiosity you cause. The look of focus on the girl's face and the tongue in cheek grin the boy was wearing will last them a life time.

It's really REALLY important to let kids know they can DO things for themselves. They don't need someone to do it for them, don't need permission or approval they just need the desire and some information.

I'd call that a success myself.

Frosty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.