Jump to content
I Forge Iron

OK, John McPherson...........

Recommended Posts

OK, John McPherson, let's talk about it! Way back in, I think it was something like 1972, or there abouts(I'm not sure. Any way not long after my father died, I decided to start making big art instead of small(jewelry) and took a sculpture class. My instructor and I got interested in bending metal and to do that you needed heat, lots of heat, way more than a rosebud puts out. That was what got me started on the road to blacksmithing, making art. Not some desire to recreate the lost past but a desire to make art. I was not a welder, fabricator or any other kind of metal worker(well I did bronze castings), didn't set out to make fences, banisters, window grilles, barbecues, none of that stuff. All I wanted to do was make big, really big jewelry, room size. Some time after this there was an attempt to organize the smiths in Arizona for an ABANA chapter. This happened at Doug Loony's forge in Kirkland Junction near Prescott, AZ. We had a couple of meets up there but one of the things that came to the fore for me was that it wasn't going to be an organization for me to really be a part of. If your spell out ABANA, it is Artist Blacksmith Association of North America. Our local chapter was soon overtaken by the second word in ABANA, in particular one or two fellows who though that if what you made wasn't made in a more or less traditional manner you didn't belong in the association. They soon forgot that the first word was 'artist', that all smiths were artists, not just smiths. Folk going through the motions of being smiths but practicing the art of smithing. Creating with their hands and minds, that a sculptor was just as much a smith as a person making a gate or a fork or repairing a wagon wheel. This for awhile was not the atmosphere in the chapter. ABANA was established to give a place for all forms of smithing to grow, not only grow but to flourish, to be nurtured and to spread to places where it had died out. It is a hard go to be a 'professional' smith in today's world. There is not much call for hand wrought steel when we are competing with places like Mexico, China, India and others where labour is cheap and safety is nonexistent. If not for the amateur smith it will die out totally. ABANA was not created for the professional only and if that is what it has become it is a tragedy for the world of smithing. I Forge Iron is not just for the professional, it is for all smiths, from novice to professional and so is ABANA. It is or was a worthy organization to belong to and if it has changed so drastically, then only the smiths can change it by being active in it. So if you're not a member, join and vote for change. Change can and should be for the good of all not just the few. :blink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is about my posts on the 'It Followed Me Home' thread about starting a local group. I said I would stop hijacking the thread.

I was not a welder, or an artist, or anything else. I was a residential real estate appraiser, who played with wood and metal and old tools on the weekends. About a dozen years ago, an acquaintance said he had just come back from a sword making class. I found blacksmithing and knifemaking groups were available, and never looked back.

I believe in putting in whatever I can contribute to a cause I believe in. To that end, I have volunteered as a Scoutmaster, NRA range officer, Scottish Society board member, museum demonstrator, and now college faculty advisor for a blacksmithing club. I have worked with literally hundreds of Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts and Cub scouts to do metalwork, rifle and shotgun shooting. I am working with a local historic site to rebuilt a historic smithy. I use my tools and donate 3+ hours a week to teaching the craft of blacksmithing to those who know even less about it than I do. (In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.) :blink:

It is always easier to walk away than work to effect change. Is any organization perfect? Hardly, being that it is made up of flawed human beings. A few good people can steer an organization in the same way a few bad apples can wreck it. Want platitudes? Be the change that you want to see in the world. Saying that a couple of knotheads ruined the experience for you just means that for whatever reason you failed to take the reins.

NC ABANA has been around long enough to have local groups be formed, blossom and die. It happens. Start your own local group to do what you want. If you can get a core group to form, and a spot to meet, then give it a shot. If what you have now is nothing, then you have nothing to lose.

Some people just are are not joiners. There are more lurkers than posters on any website. I contribute when I think I have something to add to the dialog.

There are way more wannabes and part-timers and hobby smiths than professionals, and an even smaller number of professionals who freely share their knowledge. Human nature.

Link to comment
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.

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.

  • Create New...