Volume 2, Issue 8
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia, 309 Second Avenue, Farmville, Virginia 23901
Sarah Tanner Anderson, Editor
by Peyton Anderson, President
Sarah Tanner Anderson, Editor
In the middle of a heat wave, there was a
beautiful Saturday with mid-80 degree weather for
our August meeting. Dick and Joann Nietfeld made
the long trip from Nebraska to Yesteryear Forge in
Amelia, Virginia to spend the beautiful day
blacksmithing. Arriving with anvils, tools, and big
smiles, I knew Dick Nietfeld was serious about
blacksmithing. In fact, his license plate even says During the lunch break, everyone marveled at
“BLKSMTH!” Joann Nietfeld‟s handmade brooms. Several of us
walked away with beautiful pieces to accent our
The meeting got under way with everyone drooling homes. Everyone also scrambled to get their
over Mike Tanner‟s new 1240+ pound Refflinghaus tickets bought and in the cups for an amazing Iron
anvil. Dick talked to us about the features of the in the Hat. More than half of the items were hand
Refflinghaus of such a high quality anvil. He then forged and several others were tools, including a
went right to work behind the anvil, showing us his forge and post vice! Wow! Thanks to everyone who
shovel mold technique and a few other tricks. We participated.
were also given a detailed, step-by-step demo on
making tongs. Dick even made the rivet! By lunch After lunch, Dick jumped right into forging again,
time, we were all ready to enjoy a Southern-style taking time to explain everything from his
lunch by the Tanner family with fried chicken, hammers to his chisels. Everything he used, he
potato salad, watermelon, and brownies. made, whether it was totally forged or
manipulated to do a specific job. Dick forged a
cross-pien hammer that will be in October‟s
The day was a big hit with it being our largest turn
out so far this year and our biggest Iron in the Hat.
Thanks to everyone who made the day such a
great success. Special thanks to Steve LaPaugh,
Justin Sheehan, and Jacob Johnson for assisting
Dick throughout the day. Also, thanks to the
Tanner family for providing us with such a great
lunch and a wonderful shop to have our meetings.
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia Page 2
Buckingham Jamestown Celebration
It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood – Buckingham Historic Village, that is – for the
Buckingham Jamestown Celebration! Jason Crawford, Mark Bogue, John Riddle, and Peyton
Anderson demonstrated for those in attendance. The turnout was a little light, but those who
did attend had a great time. We even had members Steve LaPaugh, Watkins Abbitt, and Mike
and Linda Tanner stop by for awhile. Come to find out, our Guild‟s presence at the event may
well be a driving force to build a blacksmith shop in the Historic Village. We were able to show
the public that blacksmithing is still alive and well, while boosting the efforts of funding a
future blacksmith shop that can educate even more about this great trade. Below is a portion
of the article from The Farmville Herald detailing the event.
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia Page 3
Reflections from the Forge
“Rusty Corner” Part 1 I recently took a class at John C. Campbell Folk
When I was a very young boy, I hung out at two different School with Jerry Darnell. The class was on early
blacksmith shops. Neither one of the blacksmiths said American lighting. Glen Bryant and I drove down
much to me, but when they did talk to me, it was to tell to Brasstown and took the class. Even though it was
really hot, it was a good experience. I learned some
me what NOT TO DO or what to do. Most of the time,
things that will stick with me from now on. Jerry
they were speaking about issues dealing with safety.
has been blacksmithing 40 years and is well known;
As a soldier, a cop, an accident reconstructionist, and a just being around him will affect you.
sometime advisor to OSHA, I have seen the results of all
types of accidents and other tragic events. Injury and We can also affect people we come in contact with.
death are all too real to me. We may not be well known, but we do influence
one another. I am reminded of Peter and John in the
PREVENTION, prevention, prevention is the easiest, less book of Acts. They were very zealous and bold in
painful, and most cost efficient approach to solving serving God. In chapter 4 verse 13, it is pointed out
safety issues. PREVENTION is brought about by that they had been with Jesus. Jesus will certainly
knowledge. KNOWLEDGE is brought about by change your life if we will let him. He will give us
experience. To turn knowledge into prevention is eternal life if we accept him. Won't you let him into
wisdom – to not act on knowledge is foolish and it could your life?
kill you or cause you a lot of pain and money.
Thanks and good forging,
I believe the Safety training message can be best L.T. Skinnell
expressed through the use of sharing information
derived from our own personal experience. If we are
smart, we will learn from other peoples experience and
not have to suffer the results of poor practices
ourselves. When everything is said and done, one of the
priorities at this point in my life is to encourage safety
practices in the blacksmithing craft. The Blacksmith Guild of Virginia is a proud
member of The Artist Blacksmith Association of
If you have read this far, most likely the reader of this North America. Information about ABANA is
note about my opinion of blacksmithing safety is also detailed on the organization‟s web site:
involved with the craft of blacksmithing. That being ABANA is a non-profit organization
said, we are most likely on common ground, with similar directed by a board of 15 members who
interests and challenges. As a group of blacksmiths, we serve voluntarily as officers and on
can cut through the chase to provide our colleagues with committees. The resolutions by the
board determine the services to be
direct, interesting, personal views, and hands-on
provided within an annual budget. The
experience about blacksmithing and how to do it safely. operations and publications staff of
When I realized my understanding of blacksmithing ABANA delivers services as contractors
techniques was not at the level I thought it was, I still or employees. Thirty years ago, the
wanted to participate in the bigger scheme of things. Artist-Blacksmith's Association of North
So, I feel the best thing I can still do is encourage the America, Inc. began with only twenty
young, intelligent, and talented people who are now blacksmiths who had a vision. Their
involved with the blacksmithing craft to use safe vision has unfolded with a
practices. membership that has grown to over
5,000 strong. The resurgence of the
Most everything I could say at this point has been "lost" art of blacksmithing is
covered by somebody, somewhere. unmistakably evident.
I believe the safety message is a process of reminding
each other over and over again. As a Guild, it is important to be advocates for
our trade. We encourage you to join ABANA.
- “Old Rusty Ted” Throckmorton - Sarah Tanner Anderson, Editor
To find out how to join ABANA, visit
(Part 2 will appear in next month’s newsletter) http://www.abana.org/membership/index.shtml.
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia Page 4
Thanks to Vincent Nakovics for submitting the following articles.
My Week at John C. Campbell Folk School
By Vincent Nakovics
I spent April 22nd to 28th at John C. Campbell Folk School attending a metal sculpting course called Cock-a-Doodle-
Do instructed by Julie Clark. Julie was energetic, enthusiastic and talented. She was able to maintain the energy and
interest throughout the week. Most of the class had never struck an arc before, and she had them welding like, well,
almost pros. Ha-ha. This was a class mostly about using metal as a medium for artistic expression. We got to try out
three different Mig welders, two different plasma cutters, A/O torches, propane forges and the old standby, the coal
forge. Need I say that you get to be shown how to correctly use all these pieces of equipment? On top of all that I had
the opportunity to take another look at metal and how I can use it in an artistic manner. All in all, it was a very good
week! Julie had an assistant by the name of Joe Scott from Pass Christian, MS who added a lot of fun and expertise to
the class. On top of a great class, Julie arranged a couple of field trips for us.
1st up: Joe Miller‟s shop. Let me tell you, he had made these incredible night tables with a kitten on one and an
owl on the other that would be used as a nightlight. Joe Miller showed us how he made the hollow forms and several
other items. He also demonstrated how he would actually set up for a production run of leaves or whatever. Most of his
equipment is on wheels! If you have had ill thoughts about my anvil stand, all I can say is that mine was looking good
and he uses his a heck of a lot more than me. Ha! The week is not over just yet.
2nd up: Tim Kriss greeted us at the door of his “Barn” with a booming voice that sort of made you expect to hear
“HO!HO!HO!”. Well in a way he is Santa, with his collection of anvils dating back to the 11 th century, 19th century
bandsaw and the coup de grace - a Nazel Hammer owned and operated by Samuel Yellin! There is a monel handle from
SY‟s shop. Tim Kriss jokingly tells us to see if we can feel the energy of Samuel Yellin in the handle which is
accompanied by a Tom Latane latch and lock. The list goes on. Unfortunately, we had a very limited time there. Tim
Kriss invited us down to the “Three Legged Dog” pub (his own) that is attached to his house. There his wife Barbara
greeted us with a most generous spread of cheeses, crackers, shrimp, grapes, wine and beer on tap! Their generosity
was truly endearing. Even in the pub is a wonderful collection of history, and above the fireplace is a stunning
reproduction of a French rotisserie made entirely by hand by Peter Ross! Its movement was like that of a fine clock. If
you ever have the good fortune to be invited, miss your plane, be late for your meeting - just go!!!! Tim and Barbara‟s
collections are sensory overloads.
Interview with Julie Clark, Metal Sculptor & Blacksmith
By Vincent Nakovics
Julie graduated from U.T. Chattanooga with a BS in Business Management in 1987. At the time her passion was
horses, so she enrolled in the Eastern School of Farriery, in Martinsville, VA. She worked as a farrier for 8 years, as well
as obtaining a riding instructor certification with the American Riding Instructor Program; CHA, Certified Horsemanship
Associating and Centered Riding Inc. She ran a successful riding program at her farm on Lookout Mountain, in the
community of New Salem, GA.
Julie bought her first „stick‟ welder, a Miller „buzz‟ box, while working as a farrier. Only seeking to learn the
basics, she enrolled in a beginner welding class at Northwestern Technical College. However she became so interested
in learning all facets of welding and cutting that she continued taking classes in MIG, TIG, oxy/acetylene cutting and
has obtained a two year degree in Welding and Joining Technology.
While attending farrier school, Julie acquired blacksmithing skills needed to make horseshoes. Working in a coal
forge sparked further interest in the artistic side of forging. As a member of ABANA, (Artist-Blacksmiths‟ Association of
North America) she enrolled in numerous blacksmithing classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School, studying under
Elmer Rousch, Clay Spencer, Joe Miller, Elizabeth Brim, Darryl Nelson and Michael Saari. Her skill level has since earned
her an instructor position at the Folk School, teaching her techniques for fabricating large steel roosters.
Julie‟s work is a combination of metal working techniques: welding, forging, oxy/acetylene cutting, plasma
cutting are all used in the fabrication of her pieces. She often starts with purchased steel in the form of plate, sheet,
tubing, or bar stock, but sometime resorts to found objects gathered from local scrap yards. Her mood changes as her
works reflect, with each piece displaying a quality and uniqueness all its own.
**Julie Clark wrote the biography presented here. Having spent a week in tutelage, I can attest that it fails to fully
denote her artistic skills for creating with steel.
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia Page 5
August Member Spotlight: Jacob Johnson
By Sarah Tanner Anderson, Editor
We are fortunate to have young members
active in the trade. This being said, I believe
we can all learn a great deal from young Jacob
Johnson, our August spotlight member.
A week or so before the August meeting, Jacob
decided that he wants to combine his two
passions in life – horses and blacksmithing – to
become a farrier when he grows up. To ensure
his upcoming career goals, Jacob volunteered
to crank the blower and serve as Dick
Nietfield‟s right-hand-man, so to speak, at the
August meeting. Decked out in safety glasses, an apron, and a whole lot of sweat,
Jacob‟s dedication and determination were appreciated and admired by all who
Congrats! Justin Sheehan brought some of his first forged items to the August meeting.
Justin is learning from L.T. Skinnell. Justin was also telling me about how he and his
father have collected almost all the tools he needs for a full forge set up except a post
vice. Well, Justin‟s ticket was pulled at the Iron in the Hat for the post vice. Now he‟s
set, and I look forward to seeing more of his work.
By Peyton Anderson, President
“Wash, Rinse, and Repeat”
Have you ever read the directions on a bottle of shampoo? Well, I have. It basically
states that for best results, the user needs to “wash, rinse, and repeat.” I thought about
this over the Labor Day weekend, while I was getting back into the swing of making a few S-
hooks and a few other items. I found myself thinking back to the exercises Mike made me
do early in my apprenticeship so that fundamentals would become second nature. It had
been a good long while since I had really forged, and I was a little rusty and sloppy at first.
But, just like the back of that shampoo bottle suggests, I did the most important step…
I am really coming to realize that all my ideas and schemes for projects revolve
around the same basic principles of drawing out, upsetting, hammer control, and heat
management. I can only practice and keep repeating these things to improve my
techniques, which will, in turn, improve my projects. I am only as good as my abilities and
aspirations will allow me to be. I know that what I am seeing in my head and drawing on
paper can become reality if I just work first on my fundamentals and never tire of
improving on myself. The moment I become complacent with my ability behind the anvil
will be the moment I sell all my tools and take up basket weaving!
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia Page 6
The Slacktub (Upcoming Events)
By Sarah Tanner Anderson, Editor
Doug has also sent a 12 page handout with
September 15 , 2007 his notes and drawings for each project to
give everyone there, so you can spend more
Time: 10:00 am to 3:00 pm time watching and less time writing and
Lunch provided by the drawing!
Tanners: BBQ from
coleslaw, baked beans, DON'T FORGET SOMETHING FOR IRON IN
potato chips, Clara‟s THE HAT, a chair, and a camera – this will
macaroni salad by Clara be a meeting to remember!
Woodhouse, a cake by
Clara also, and brownies. Directions:
RSVP please! From 360 east or west turn
across from Goodman Truck &
Location: Yesteryear Forge Tractor onto business 360. Go to
15421 Five Forks Road the first road on your right and
Amelia, Virginia 23002 turn right. Continue to the stop
sign and STOP. Then go straight
Demonstrator: Doug Merkel
through the intersection and
proceed approximately 2 miles.
Yesteryear Forge is on the right
Doug is a veteran instructor at the
up on a hill – look for a brick
prestigious John C. Campbell Folk School.
house and a black anvil sign in
Here is his BIO as seen in their catalog and
the front yard. There‟s plenty
of parking by the forge!
“Doug Merkel, a full-time smith, maintains a
studio in the mountains of North Carolina. He ***Be careful with directions from
specializes in rendezvous, reenactment and MapQuest – they will send you through the
18th-century blacksmithing, but continues to town of Amelia, which is extremely
do commissions, artwork, and ironwork for the confusing! ***
home builder. Active in chapters of the Artist
Blacksmith's Association of North America, Doug Please RSVP as soon as possible so
is a former member of its board of directors. that the Tanners may purchase
He also conducts demonstrations and classes
for groups within the U.S.” enough food for all!
Items to be demonstrated: "Forging the Reminders: IRON IN THE HAT!!! Make sure you
bring something for IITH and money for tickets.
Hofi Hammer," nail header, "Ferrier's Rasp
The Guild will provide coffee and pastries for
Tomahawk," "One Light Table Lamp," "Saw breakfast and food and drinks for lunch with a
tooth Trammel," and "A Wax for all donation jar: please donate if you partake!
Seasons." These are the titles of all his The IITH and Donation Jar will help raise the
projects that will be covered on the 15th. money needed for demonstrators and future
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia Page 7
Board Meeting Notes:
The Board met at our last monthly meeting and has decided to
encourage participation (plus save the Guild a few dollars) by creating the
following criteria for being considered a “Contributing Member.”
We have nearly 100 members in our guild from several states all over the
nation and mailing out a monthly newsletter to each member is getting more
and more expensive. Starting with the September newsletter, we will only be
mailing out newsletters to those who are contributing members. Here are the
1. Must attend at least 2 meetings or events by the Guild in a six-month
2. Submissions (articles, photos, etc.) to the newsletter and/or website
3. Mail in Iron in the Hat donations
Fulfilling at least one of these will keep you on the Contributing Member
Mailing list during each six month period. We will be looking back through
February of this year until present for the next mailing. Those who have
“contributed” from June of this year through December will be considered a
“Contributing Member” for 2008. This has been put in place to better fund our
upcoming demonstrators for this year and next.
We are giving away a 500lb. Euro-anvil and a two-hour one-on-one session with
Bill Epps. Tickets are only $1.00 each and can be purchased at any of our
meetings. Just see treasurer/secretary Linda
Tanner at the sign in table to purchase your
tickets! We will draw the winning ticket at our
November meeting on November 17th after
the Iron in the Hat. The two-hour session with
Bill Epps will be the following day, November
18th. This is a rare opportunity to take a
chance at winning a quality 500lb. anvil and
two hours with one of the top professional
smiths in the United States. YOU MUST BE
PRESENT TO WIN!!!
Lot 1: Wrought Iron Tomahawk heads (2),
Wrought Iron Drift, Wrought Iron and
Silent Auction Oct. 20th 2007: tool steel Tomahawk Kit by Bob Rowe
There will be a Silent Auction on October 20th at The and Carl Hirner
Second Annual Yesteryear Forge Hammer In. All items Lot 2: Wine Rack by Brian Gilbert
demonstrators make up to that date will be put into the Lot 3: Trillium Candle Holder by Brian Gilbert
Silent Auction. We are also open to donations from Lot 4: Renaissance Wax by Brian Gilbert
members. These items can be hand forged, tools, etc. – Lot 5: Renaissance Wax by Brian Gilbert
anything blacksmith related is welcome. Contact Peyton Lot 6: Damascus Billet by Brian Gilbert
Anderson if you would like to make a donation at Lot 7: Cross-pien hammer by Dick Nietfeld
434.390.6203 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All Lot 8: ABANA t-shirt, magazine, bumper
proceeds will go towards funding next year‟s sticker, and pens
demonstrations. Lot 9: 4 pairs of tongs by NC Tool Co.
Lot 10: 800g Swedish hammer by Kayne &
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia Page 8
Newsletter submissions 2007 Meeting Calendar:
If you would like to submit an article for the Jan. 20th: Demonstrator Mike Tanner at Yesteryear
monthly newsletter, submissions are due no Forge, Amelia, Virginia
later than the 15th of each month.
Newsletters will be posted in the last week of Feb. 17th: Demonstrator John Riddle at LT Skinnell's
each month, so submissions received later Otter Creek Forge, Bedford, Virginia
than the 15th will be printed in the following
month. March 17th: Bob Rowe & Carl Hirner (from historic
Williamsburg) at Yesteryear Forge,
To truly express the unique and varied voices Amelia, Virginia
of our organization, we‟d love to hear from
you. Events, trade tips, or anything else April 21st: Jack Chaffee at Brown's Forge, Lexington,
related to blacksmithing is welcomed and
encouraged! May 19th: Brian Gilbert, Editor of ABANA‟s The
Email articles to Yesteryear Forge, Amelia, Virginia
June 23rd: Build your own portable forge!
I look forward to hearing from you! July: NO MEETING
Sarah Tanner Anderson, editor
Aug. 11th: Jamestown 400th Celebration,
Aug. 18th: Dick Neitfeld at Yesteryear Forge,
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia Amelia, Virginia
Office: 309 Second Avenue
Farmville, Virginia 23091 Sept. 15th: Doug Merkel at Yesteryear Forge, Amelia,
Oct. 20th: 2nd Annual Yesteryear Forge Hammer In.,
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia Officers Amelia Virginia. Demonstrator: RANDY
Peyton Anderson, President MCDANIEL AUTHOR OF "A Blacksmithing
John Riddle, Vice President Primer: A Course in Basic and
Linda Tanner, Secretary/Treasurer
Sarah Tanner Anderson, Editor
Mike Tanner, Founder
Nov. 17th Bill Epps at Yesteryear Forge, Amelia,
and 18th: Virginia
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia
309 Second Avenue
Farmville, Virginia 23901
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia
Application for Membership
What are your blacksmithing interests (knife making, traditional, reenacting, artist, etc.) and how long
have you been blacksmithing?
Any additional comments:
Disclaimer: I acknowledge that the activities involved in blacksmithing are potentially dangerous, and I voluntarily
accept any risks involved. I absolve the Blacksmith Guild of Virginia, its officers, members, guests, demonstrators,
and hosts of liability for any accident that may occur at any of its meetings/demonstrations. I take full
responsibility for my safety and the safety of any guest that I will bring to any meeting/demonstration.
Mail completed membership applications to our office:
Blacksmith Guild of Virginia •309 Second Avenue • Farmville, Virginia 23901