All is fair in NC. (2012 State Fair)

So I’ve been abnormally busy lately learning to do something a bit new for me. I hope to talk more about it soon.. But the NC state fair wasn’t so long ago!
Several NCABANA members and I were all there demonstrating blacksmithing for record numbers of people. It was an awful lot of fun. I made some neat things, even tried some new projects I hadn’t practiced before and let a crowd watch as I scratched my head and struggled with learning a new item or two. We answered many questions and maybe even inspired a few people young and old to take a more active interest in the craft.. But mostly I made and sold leaves and bottle openers oh, and my favorite change of pace.. leaf bottle openers..
Check out the art inspired by the experience in the Pirate Blacksmith webcomic

I’m in the background probably about to burn myself or a lucky audience

Dixie Classic Fairgrounds NCABANA

This past saturday was the 2nd quarterly meeting for NCabana at the Dixie Classic Fairgrounds in Winston-Salem, NC. It was a long drive be so very worth it! I love to see blacksmith shops, backyard, historic recreations, modern. They all have something to offer any person interested in any level of metal work. I took lots of photo’s and listened intently to the demonstrations. Hobbyist, professional metal workers and artist were all gathered together with a common goal of building a better and more informed community. The world of steel is better for each of these meeting and I was really happy to be a part of it!
The morning air wasn’t yet thick with humidity or heat when I first arrived and started exploring the grounds. There were many antique machines and aged building relocated to the area that caught my eye. But I took the most pictures of the shop itself.
A few of my favorite simple machines caught on camera:
A hand cranked drill simply stamped No 22, aptly made in Salem, Ohio by The Silver manufacturing company.


These bellows simply looked inspiring, I’d love to make something similar.

A treadle hammer I got a chance to try out!

The first demonstration was luckily enough on leaves and flowers. Something I’ve been working on trying to get develop a style before finishing my mothers fireplace tools. Gail Wall did a great job showing how she works sheet metal into beautiful organic forms.

Keith Roberts followed Gail demonstrating a barley twist, then he stuck around to help out Andy Phillips demonstration hardy tool creation. Giving pointers on working with a striking team. They made quick work of some rather large stock, working together like they’d done it a hundred times.
An example of a barley twist incorporated in a larger design:

Striking while the iron is hot… Very hard:

I learned a bit about annealing copper, spying an impromptu neat little folded form spiral being made over lunch, sorry no photos. My mind was beginning to wander toward the BBQ being served, but I couldn’t pry myself from where the action was!

Mr Roberts was back to wrap things up by giving a demonstration on demonstrating of all things! It was really a sight, his enthusiasm was contagious despite my heavy eyelids. He managed to inform and entertain in such a captivating way that was almost like stepping into the midway of a carnival produced by the History channel.



I stayed ’till well into the afternoon and when it was time for the long drive home. I really hope to post some more. I’ve got a lot of little projects to update and introduce. Writing, like blacksmithing, doesn’t come naturally to me. I admire good writers as much as I do craftsmen and women. Both require technique, style and attention to detail that these poor eyes don’t always have. With dedication and practice I hope to improve. Between poor eyesight, moderate dyslexia and a fumbling level of natural dexterity it sometimes feels like an uphill journey. But it’s on the long roads traveled that the destination when approached seems all the more gratifying!

–Greg

NCABANA meeting chisel, charcoal brazier, and tongs

I had a great time hanging out with guys of NCABANA at Eric Campbells shop! He demonstrated his approach to a Mark Aspery style chisel. Anyone who wanted too could make one too! He had a couple crowbars and I had a chance to try my hand at one myself. Here is a picture of it rough forged:

He also gave us some insight to how he makes his charcoal braziers.

Some open forges were set up and I spotted some tong making and had to snap some pictures:


I look forward to next time!

–Greg