From November 9th thru November 11th at Tx-Ture Farms, Mark Ling conducted classes, I think I'm the only one who attended all three and, as usual, Mark did not disappoint. Everyone who attended agreed that Mark is an excellent teacher who does a great job of explaining the what and why of his methods and for the most part everyone accomplished what He put in front of us.
A shout-out to his assistant Joshua Rachita who chipped in at appropriate times and helped a great deal.
Weather was great for Wed and Thur but for Friday there's only one description... it sucked!... Cold and raining, the only thing that saved us were the woodchips that we were able to put down. Voodoo Friday was where Mark introduced us to the magic flux 'Iron Mountain' and I swear several of the times he welded and got it to stick when the metal was black. As any blacksmith will tell you, forge welding is a special skill all on its own and anything we can do to help make it more consistently successful is a good thing.
Of note for the Wednesday's class we had 5 from the Wounded Warrior Organization and I think they had a great time putting hammer to metal. I think that alone made this a success and I can tell you we will be working with that organization in the future.
Also a shout out to board member Khahn as head Chef (only chef!) who cooked burgers and dogs for 3 days and were much much appreciated especially on Friday.
On conference day, Saturday November 12, It started out cold but the sky was clear and sunny. I'll take that over the previous day's cold and rainy anytime. The various vendors poured in and our folks rearranged the forges and anvils for the conference.
We had demos going all day with christmas bells, steak turners and hooks being made. We also tried a new thing (for us!) with great success, for a fee and a signed waiver you could also 'Try Your Hand' , that was handled with great professionalism by Corrine and Neal with Dorota doing traffic control. From the messages and notes we saw after the event that was by far the best part and the most appreciated part of the conference.
We started the auction with a draw for the toolbox. The toolbox was created by Kelly Kring and was an awesome piece all on it own. I won't go into it but it will the subject of a piece in the Bellows Blast but I can tell you that the hardware was amazing. Anyway the auction was a great success
with the key item being a chess set that was created by consortium of club members who each created the pieces and the board/table it was played on. A plate with everyone's touchmark was attached to the box the held the pieces. This will also be subject to a piece in the next Bellows Blast.
The Challenge was won by Jerry Boyd for his version of the 'Rush Light'. I believe the next challenge will be for a 'Bending Fork' that needs to be hangable from the handle. This will be judged at the January meeting.
Anther event was the knot tying challenge where one is given 4 inches of 1/2 inch square bar and has to make a knot. Mark Ling flat out won the contest with a
time of 3-1/2 minutes. Nobody else was even close. Of course I didn't try as I didn't think it appropriate that a man of my station, ability, humility, should defeat someone so much younger than myself .... maybe next year!
A very big THANK YOU needs to out to the folks at Tx-Ture farms who set up the venue. They provided a stage for our blacksmithing that included a band, food trucks, many other crafts, chuck wagon cooking etc etc. They let us use their tents to hold our classes and demonstrations in, and came to the rescue with woodchips on Friday. This is our second time there and I think it's become/becoming a wonderful event, enjoyed by everyone 'smiths and non-smiths alike. My great hope is that we can continue in the future! It's certainly set the bar high