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JimC

Starting up a local educational group in Virginia.

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Gang,

 

Virginia knifemakers and smiths don't seem to congregate, associate, or come out of our workshops. I want to do something to change this. If you are interested in helping me build a local organization for fellowship, education, and general beard-burning, please drop me a line.

 

I'm tossing around ideas for a URL and logo, with the hope of creating a site for us that features blogging, gallery, and articles from local makers. Eventually, I'd love to see us acquire a space to offer classes for interested parties, but I think that's a good long way down the road.

 

-Jim

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have you considered forming an ABANA chapter in Virginia?

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There ISN'T a Virginia ABANA? Good Lord!

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I’m wrong! I should have looked before I jumped to conclusions :P it’s called old dominion blacksmith association (ODBA) it’s pretty new it was founded 2005 sorry about that. :blink:

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Not to mention the Blacksmith's Guild of the Potomac (BGoP, although they're technically in Maryland), Central Virginia Blacksmith's Guild, Tidewater Blacksmith's Guild, Northern Neck Blacksmith's Association, and the Blacksmith's Guild of Virginia...That's just the ones I know of from Abana-chapter.com.

 

You are right that there is no BLADESMITH's guild there that I know of. We're just harder to herd. :lol:

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I'm not sure what you're saying "Virginia knifemakers and smiths don't seem to congregate, associate, or come out of our workshops"



As Alan and Thomas wrote: Blacksmith's Guild of the Potomac (BGoP, although they're technically in Maryland), Central Virginia Blacksmith's Guild, Tidewater Blacksmith's Guild, Northern Neck Blacksmith's Association, and Old Dominion Blacksmith Association.



I'll add to that, the Blacksmith Shenandoah Vally Blacksmith Guild. All of those groups met monthly or more, with Tidewater and BGOP having their own training facilities In addition, Virginia has two schools actively teaching blacksmithing and some bladesmithing. Not to mention the host of small groups that haven't caught my eye. Plus, at least four large annual weekend events.



The Blacksmith's Guild of Virginia is no more. They closed their doors along with Yesteryear school two years ago

Actually it never was, it was a private for profit company.

 

Alan, BGOP is in Virginia, you're thinking of The Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland.

Edited by Gerald Boggs

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Actually, I'm a member of BGOP and use their facility to forge my blades. Blacksmiths in the Northern Virginia area seem to be much more aware of one another than knifemakers are. I feel there needs to be a group SPECIFIC to bladesmithing, rather than one centered in utilitarian or decorative ironwork.

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Gerald, blades are definitely utilitarian, but BGOP's focus is on decorative iron, not blades.

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Gerald, blades are definitely utilitarian, but BGOP's focus is on decorative iron, not blades.

To a fault, if I might add my experience with BGOP.

 

The year I paid my dues and attended, I was the only knifemaker among them. They decided to have a session on knifemaking, and didn't want my input. Instead, the prideful show-and-tell piece was a blade ground from file steel, stick-welded to the guard, and some wood slightly above plywood for the handle.

 

That's when I said to myself, "this group doesn't care about what I do," and left.

 

Jim's right. There's nothing for bladesmiths around the DC/NOVA orbit that I know of, and I've lived here 14 years. ABANA doesn't care about knives. None of the coal-forge decorative iron groups care about knives. There's a vacuum for our craft here, and I'd love to find a way to fill it productively and professionally. Right now, Jim and Sean come over to my house every other Sunday. That's our organization at the moment.

 

I can't finish without expressing deep gratitude for Kerry's annual hammer-in every Spring up in Mariottsville, but it's not the same thing that Jim's talking about.

 

I think, to keep it simple as possible up front, just calling it a "club" would satisfy our desire for something greater than ourselves. No business BS, no legal stuff, just a thin veneer of organized passion around our craft, might help it grow and attract the people out there who don't think folks do this sort of thing anymore.

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I lived in the Hampton Roads area for over 30 years, though not all of them building knives. You even have to go to above Baltimore or out to the western Virginia to find a knife show. The blacksmithing group in the area is decorative work though, it the time, they did say that they had a token knifesmith (meant tong-in-cheek, but their term, not mine). Stacy Apelt lives in the area and he's said he's had no luck in organizing bladesmiths in the area and believe me, there are plenty of knifesmiths in the area.

 

Doug

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Good Luck, but I think you'll go the way of most organizations. A few people will get it started, the rest will join, but do nothing. After a while, the few will get tired of doing everything and stop. Shortly afterwards, the group will retire. Better to find a way to work within the existing groups.

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Gerald, you're inspirational. Thank you for weighing in on the matter.

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Think BGOP (which is pretty central to most of us, and well-equipped) would tolerate a blademith "department" of the club? Something with a little commitment behind it? I can't say I'm savvy about their current management or tone, my earlier experience being several years ago now.

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Join the board, present your idea, form a committee, develop a plan/program.

 


Too bad it's already June, all the main events are over for the year. One could have gotten a lot of ground covered by having a info table at Boone's Pasture Party and all the other spring events.





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I'm sure you're right, Gerald, but I don't think this is just a seasonal idea, either. This is something (as Jim and I have discussed a lot offline) that is persistent and ongoing, and there's probably no "best" time to start, so just start.... that's our thinking at the moment.

 

I've wondered for some time if there's any way to get involved with the Workhouse Arts Center in Lorton. While they obviously have a focus on fine arts, their expansion into ceramics and glass sounds like the core of what the Crucible in Oakland does, centering on fire arts of all types. It's a stretch, but I think it has merit and potential, if handled right. I need to make some time to go down and get a better feel for the place in person.

 

There's also the Frying Pan Park shop, which is currently unused... we need space to work in public, they need attractions to get more people in the door, might be a good match for now to get the practice of bladesmithing in the public eye in a positive manner.

 

 


Lots of options, lots of thoughts, lots of possibilities.

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Shenandoah Valley Blacksmiths Guild was mentioned once before, but I will jump in and second their presence with a bit more enthusiasm than the prior posting.

We meet the second Thursday of each month at 7 PM in the Burkholder Buggy Shop in Dayton, VA just outside Harrisonburg.

 

As to their openness to Bladesmithing, the demonstrator this month is me, myself and I, demonstrating my Japanese style clay techniques for differential hardening.

There are a couple other knifemakers in the guild, though I may be the only one that does almost exclusively bladesmithing.

 

If any of you live close enough I would love to see you there!

James

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Thanks for the offer James, it's a fine idea - but a 3 hour drive each way for me. I'm glad you're out there doing good work.

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Thanks for the offer James, it's a fine idea - but a 3 hour drive each way for me. I'm glad you're out there doing good work.

 

3 hours? Oh you mean before factoring in traffic! :rolleyes:

 

You gotta loathe NoVA traffic. :huh:

 

Started to type "love" but I couldn't do it, even sarcastically! :blink:

 

As long as none of you are there no one will know if I screw up, unless I go ping... :ph34r:

James

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James, feel free to drop me a line and join up. I'd like to make the new organization state-wide. Here's the URL www.olddominionbladesmiths.org. Next up: the Sunday meeting and a logo.

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On 6/21/2013 at 2:36 PM, Gerald Boggs said:

Good Luck, but I think you'll go the way of most organizations. A few people will get it started, the rest will join, but do nothing. After a while, the few will get tired of doing everything and stop. Shortly afterwards, the group will retire. Better to find a way to work within the existing groups.

I looks I was correct, but that's the way of groups.

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