This past weekend was the Hammer-in to commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the Central Virginia Blacksmith Guild. As a member of the guild I try to be involved as much as possible but with our class and show schedule, I often miss the meetings. In this case, I was very excited to be invited to demonstrate at the bladesmithing tent along with Matthew Parkinson and Burt Foster. It got even better when we found out that Ben Abbot was available to round out the demonstrations to two teams.
The weather had been very nice before the event but unfortunately turned into a typical Dogwood winter in Virginia. If it was not raining then there were 15 mph winds and the temperature was between the 30s and low 50’s so overall just pretty crappy weather. We were under an awning and the turnout was great despite the uncomfortable conditions. On the bright side, there was a large indoor area for vendors which was heated nicely. Surprisingly, knife sales went very well and Jamie Sneed, my shop manager, held down the table and worked the crowd. Among other vendors, there was Blacksmith supply, Big Blu presses and tools, NC Tool Company, Holland Anvil, MSG blades, and Abana as well as tailgate sales in the parking lot. Winburn Steel was the only other knife vendor. Mark and Dale are always great company and their swords and daggers are exquisite.
The demonstrations lasted from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning and there were two other tents beside the bladesmithing tent. Roy with Christ-Centered Ironworks had the traditional ornamental tent and Andrew Molina demonstrated sculptural ironwork. At the bladesmithing tent, we decided to do two different blades, both in Damascus. Matt actually accomplished a mosaic pattern for his blade and Ben Abbot made a six-bar Turkish twist for his Damascus, I assisted with the forging on Ben’s project and Burt assisted with Matt’s. Unfortunately, Burt is dealing with a hand injury so although he was important to the demos for his knowledge and crowd work, we didn’t get the pleasure of watching him forge. I ground the bevels on the multibar blade, and glued and sculpted the handle. It was so cool to collaborate with Ben on this one!
Although we showed many advanced techniques, I took it upon myself to forge basic knives and explain that process. Many times at these events, the professionals assume that everyone knows the basics and those techniques get passed over. I know that there are many people who are just getting started and even seasoned makers still want to see how another smith gets it done. I ended up forging two full tang hunters, a stick tang blade from an offcut of Damascus, and an integral petty chef. A highlight for me was when Burt and Matt made broaches for themselves in order to finish their hidden tang knife. It was cool to see them problem-solve on the fly and make the tool they needed.
The two blades that we completed were raffled off at the end of the event and the proceeds went to support the CVBG we hope to do this again next year. The turnout was excellent and the demonstrators all had a great time. If you have an opportunity to attend any hammer-ins make it a point to do so. You don’t have to be a maker to get plenty out of the experience and it's a great chance to rub shoulders with some real pros. Not to mention that you are getting access to multiple classes for the price of admission - easily 10x more value than what you pay to get in. Look out for more events from the Guild and Join or Die Knives. We will be sure to have them at least once a quarter. See you then!