This a a very long page -- it contains all but a few of the open-ended Question 35 comments from the members e-mail survey -- from 11-30-02 through 12-28-07.

I've been to two national ABANA conferences (Flagstaff and Seattle), a state-wide conference (CBA Spring Conference), and several regional and local hammerfest/hammer-in events.    Of them all, the one I consistently prefer is the one regional event that has found the right mix of teaching and camaraderie.  I know that I'll feel, welcome, and will learn things that I can use, every time I attend.    At most blacksmithing conferences, I find myself on the outside looking in (emotionally), even though I've been attending at least one conference a year since 1998 (or maybe it was 97).    Think inclusively

I did not answer any of the conference questions as I cannot see myself getting to any in the foreseeable future, as I live overseas from America.

Making contact and receiving responses from individuals related to the website or ABANA processes has been poor to non-existent. If individuals commit to a position it needs to be done for other than political reasons. Being a representative of a national organization means filling a large pair of shoes. I don't think previous representatives realize this before committing. I don't think I would be up to the task.

I would utilize the web more but I am some what green at it. I wish there were more opportunities for women. I find there are few women that are active in my local affiliates; hence I do not get involved. New England And Conn. What could change that?

I wish the anvil’s ring would stick to more traditional content and not all of this modern art crap!!! It most of the time has very little actual blacksmith techniques.  Blacksmithing is old school and should be left that way.  I recently bought a new Say-Mak trip hammer from Tom Clark and have become pretty good friends with him.  I with you all would include him and use his talents, contacts, drive, and knowledge to help your organization.

Have wanted to participate more with Board but am too far away to do so.  Long years ago, used ABANA to locate individuals in my area (Odessa, TX at the time) and ended up with loose group that met irregularly but had a lot of fun (called 'Hammer, Tongue, & Mug Gathering' ... but not in that order necessarily).  Tried again a couple of years ago but found no one nearby.  Would like to be able to access the contents of both Anvil's Ring/Hammer's Blow via internet when I can't find my old copies/contents I need (re: Ques 22) but can't see paying for access when I pay my overall dues.  Am trying to set up to train local Boy Scouts on Blacksmithing Merit Badge.

I think the web site should be improved a bit.  It is a bit hard to navigate, and there isn't all that much activity there.  Additional galleries might be nice.

Couldn't answer Q#34 because not sure of the number of days, and opening and closing times.  Less than $100 per day for lodging, and $10 per person per meal.

I filled out this survey awhile back. I never attended a conference because of the cost.

I would like to see more outreach type programs to educate the public about blacksmithing. Maybe some ABANA sponsored exhibits that travel about the US and Canada.  Something that connects the practical history and the artistic craft.

I'll think about it

I think that the magazines look good and are well produced.  When one considers how small of a market blacksmiths represent it is pretty amazing that anyone can afford to produce a magazine.  Check out the MAKE magazine.  This is a younger crowd that is hungry for the kind of info that ABANA is all about.

Now looking for info on how to get my files cleaned, Had them for some time now and not as good as they used to be, I work a small Swedish #3-80# Anvil, are there any Hardies available? Been making my own, And like to know what is on the market, We can rework them to fit our Anvil,    We work a Propane Forge by Mike Porter made from Seattle He wrote a Book on Forges [very good designed Forges] Bye For Now, Smile GOD Loves You And Yours 

I believe regional meetings will work. It’s too hard to provide a good meeting if the crowd is too big. Meetings like SOFA would work.  Then the big meeting could be every 2 years, at one location.

After studying the ABANA board structure it is easily apparent how you have fallen into this trap...the NOMMA board had similar issues until the early 1990's when significant changes were made, largely due to the bravery of Alex Klahm who stepped up and challenged the old guard to make for a better future for the organization. There is NO WAY ABANA can continue to function as it has unless the board structure is overhauled and new leadership is recruited and term limits are set...this is the beginning.   I do not claim to fully understand the situation but I may be able to offer some insight into how NOMMA has overcome some of the obstacles you are facing.  

ABANA needs to be the foundation, the corner stone; they have not fulfilled this core requirement in my opinion.  They need to be strong and stationary, when they prove this, then all smiths will make the journey to join.

I think the new format for the Anvil's Ring is inferior compared to the old one.  The new size is cumbersome and the cover stock is too light. It usually arrives damaged in the mailbox now.  The quality reduction actually borders on insulting considering that the annual dues were increased around the same time the quality of that publication decreased. It seems a rather "less for more" proposition at this point.

I have completed this before.

Feel ABANA is doing a fair job but feel efforts would be better served by partnering with local/regional affiliates versus trying to be a large "governing" body.  Focus should be on continuing education for blacksmiths, including information on how to develop a blacksmithing business.  Also consider assisting affiliates with community involvement, membership development and public awareness.

Bigger is not always better.  I have always felt that by attending one part of an ABANA conference I am missing something else that I wanted to see.  CanIRON V (2005) in Nova Scotia, Canada, was a very good, small and intimate, conference.  Two main demonstration forges and several training stations, a large (but simple) gallery and many international and local demonstrators (all of whom were paid). During the conference, there were never more than two choices to make at any one time.  The event was very successful, both financially and with respect to attendee satisfaction.  It was followed by a major gallery presentation in Halifax, Nova Scotia, of the work produced at the conference.    I think this might be the way of the future for ABANA.

There are those who want to start a new smithing organization. I don't think that is necessary. Just make ABANA better.    P.S. I'm not "a workhorse for ABANA", because I'm not much of a joiner, by nature. I've joined because of by business, the magazines, and as a matter of good will.

I am fairly new to ABANA, and have some difficulty finding info on chapters or affiliates, where ABANA meetings and events are, etc.

What are the criteria for having one/some of my work published in the Anvil Ring?

thanks for taking polls///

The modern smith is a person of many hats; the work alone is hard and long. Maybe some small business success info or liability boundaries would help. Here many projects I work on call for $2,000,000 bonds. I can’t tell you how many backyard shops deflate the worth of our talents not to mention their own profits. I would like to see all who strive at this trade paid what its worth.

One thing that has diluted the effectiveness of ABANA is the large number of hobbyists as opposed to serious blacksmiths. I wouldn't say exclude the hobbyists, as their participation helps to pay the bills, but slant the organization especially presentations and conferences toward the serious blacksmith.

I haven’t been to a get together in 3yrs. or so. Copperstown farmers museum last. Ashowken, {not spelled right I know} has been a gift, I even have a powerhammer. I was surprised to hear ABANA was having troubles, as an artist, motivation is sometimes a problem, add to that a job change and just basic surviving, my ABANA support was less. I do feel it’s important to continue this org. for myself and others. So I hope this survey helps...and good luck pulling this together.

As a long time member (38 years) of the Experimental Aircraft Association at Oshkosh Wi. A prime model of organization.    A. a central location.  B. family orientation.

I am new to ABANA. I enjoy being a member. I'm a full time blacksmith and fabricator. I am not an artist though and my blacksmithing work deals with repairs. Example: farmers, loggers, ranchers, etc. I find myself doing more practical things with blacksmithing since it is how I feed my family. I am 38 years old. I have no college degree, and no rich clients. I don't have a portfolio, but I manage to earn a living blacksmithing. Please consider blacksmiths like myself in your editing of your periodicals.

This is the second time I have completed this survey.  As before, I believe that ABANA is a business entity that first and foremost, must be run like one. The recent Seattle fiasco was arguably a result of one member "doing his own thing" without oversight by the rest of the board, who were off doing "their own thing".    Conferences are wonderful events, but they must be of benefit to the rank-and-file members and enhance ABANA's financial bottom line.  If this cannot be done, no conferences should be contemplated.

I think ABANA should focus on quality blacksmithing, promoting quality blacksmithing, educating the public about quality blacksmithing, and teaching young aspiring smith’s quality blacksmithing.

I did not answer 32-33-34 as I will not be attending due to health and traveling reasons.

I like to read how to make things

Please get back on track. I know it easy for me so say that and not so easy for you to do. However, I real thought that 2007 was a very bad year for ABANA. It just seemed that no one was at the helm.

People on the board that don't have the interest of the greater membership at heart. Alienation of professional smiths, conferences too extravagant, unnecessary crap, bands, fire shows etc, how bout just some damn good blacksmithing. So many good blacksmiths and it seems only the ok ones demo.

It would be very helpful, at least for full-time professional smiths, for the authors of articles depicting big, showcase works (like elaborate railings) to share the cost of such work.  I know that many of my fellow smiths often struggle with pricing and we often wonder what others charge for their work.

I'm too new to this organization to have ideas about serving my needs since I don't know what my needs are yet.

My budget is spent on membership. I do not have the time or money to devote to this hobby. I am happy with both Anvil’s Ring and Hammer’s Blow.

There are some articles and materials from Anvil's Ring and Hammer's Blow that would be quite valuable, but back issues are no longer available.  Have you thought about compiling/editing a "best of..." collection or anthology from older issues and offering it for sale?

To be honest, the main reason I belong to ABANA it to get the magazines.

Please read comments in the survey.  Thank you

Would you be able to sell instructional material proceeds to help finance ABANA and help instructor authors finance their work? This would be a good starting point for beginners. Perhaps some online learning for advanced techniques.

ABANA has been a great organization, and really helped me when I started out in 1994. I would hate to see it dissolve or deteriorate. Please keep up the great work. I appreciate all that the Board members have done. I know it isn't easy. I would like to see the in-fighting go away and a renewed spirit of cooperation take hold once more. We are at least that good.

Make your shop stock more reasonable to purchase for overseas members.  That is, charge a reasonable postage rate. Make hire demo tapes available for purchase. Continue with this process of asking questions of your membership and be prepared to change and adapt to their requirements. Don't become an exclusive group.

This has been a great hobby for the past 30 + years. I've made a lot of friends and attended many conferences. I hope and pray we can have many more years of ABANA.

In 1957 the stone Moses Wilder Blacksmith Shop was moved from Bolton, MA to Old Sturbridge Village.  In 1976 my wife and I bought the property on which the shop stood in Bolton.  We recently completed the reconstruction of the shop on the original foundation and equipped it with a full set of antiques tools.  This November all of the OSV blacksmiths visited the shop and worked the forge.  The publicity has resulted in inquiries from many individuals as well as a couple of metalworking teachers at regional vocational schools.  I'm interested in how the shop and its publicity could be used to further the interests of blacksmithing and ABANA.  Your thoughts?

I think you folks are doing a bang up job!

Yes Blacksmithing is an art form but it is also a survival skill. Without those basic skills being taught, all the art in the world isn't going to save us from the very real danger of social collapse. Please don't discount the utilitarian nature of the Blacksmiths craft.

I wish you would try to focus on highlighting metal smiths with particular skills & specialties; and do some in-depth interviews to find out (for the readers/members) how these smiths got started in their businesses, and how they'd recommend going about doing likewise- (what are their best suggestions, hardest lessons, and visions for their futures and for metal smithing in their locales).

More step by step information on making tools, shaping leaves and the sort. Tempering metals, blending different metals/metallurgy, hammering techniques to maximize metal movement. Experimentation in the field of metal work. Help people to develop their own style of art.

As an NWBA member, I have found the pre 06 Seattle conference board to be completely unresponsive to needs and requests of our association. As a result, the conference was a failure and ABANA lost members. Had Claire Yellin, as was suggested to her, asked those who were on the board at that time to resign, a measure of confidence and credibility could have been re-established?  I will not renew my membership until those board members resign, or are off the board. I have maintained my membership in hopes that those on the pre 06 board would accept responsibility for their grievous actions and do the right thing by resigning. Obviously, no one seems to be accountable, including the leadership.

I believe the conferences were better done by the local chapters who had more local knowledge and ability to give conferences a local flavor.  My favorite conference was Flagstaff.      Members of my affiliate group may not be very sophisticated; they were much happier watching demonstrations by Dorothy Steigler, Meagan Crowley, and Toby Hickman than multiple Japanese bladesmiths or obscure methods by European blacksmiths, all of whom may well be considered masters in their field.     It is pretty clear that membership numbers must rise considerably before ABANA has the money or the people to accomplish a lot. I hope you will put a lot more effort into growing the organization, including consulting with professionals about how that is done by other national organizations.  Board members work hard, but they do not know everything.  That's why God made consultants.  A little money spent getting advice on membership drives from a professional might go a long way toward helping us over the hump.    Just a note:  I think it is entirely appropriate to expect us professional blacksmiths to pay a larger membership fee.  I would start at $100. and grow that amount as ABANA services for professionals grow.

Something needs to be done to encourage better member participation (including me!) at all levels.  With better participation, I believe some of the problems will diminish with of better understanding of the problems.

I don't want to sound like I am knocking ABANA. I firmly believe that ABANA should be kept alive. I have nothing against international demonstrators; however, if that adds too much cost, keep them national. Some people complain about the membership cost, but if they will consider the cost per day, it is cheap!!! (I am sounding like an insurance salesman!!) Good Luck with the chores ahead.

Nothing at this time.

I would appreciate having more sources for materials and equipment available.

Focus more on local talent for conferences, Limit demonstrators. All this to help keep it affordable. Focus on all levels of blacksmithing. All levels make up our group not just the best ones. The magazines are great.

If you have a central location perhaps there is less drive to just out do the last conference with extra fluff. Plan on the basics and get a community interested in supporting the conference.

Promotional opportunities.

I know running ABANA must be difficult, but I feel we need the return of the conference, even if some changes need to be made,

I can't comment on ABANA internal structure, politics, and costs or on conferences because I have no experience with them, but I would like to attend a conference in future if possible.

As a rank beginner with only one school under my belt AND the intention of doing more in the future, but not immediately, I am happy to observe the work of others and read about available equipment, tools, and places to learn. My favorite school - John C Campbell

I think the Conferences are an excellent idea. I attended the Alfred and Asheville conferences and found them both informative and stimulating.

Discounts from suppliers for ABANA membership, identify local sources of supply, online real time instructional video files.

I'm sorry I can't help you with any money limits.  That is a highly variable feature in my life.  What would be good one year would be too much the next.  If I'm going to go across the country to a conference, I may not want to spend all my time at the conference.  I'll want to see the local area.  I might be interested in only a day or day of events and not the whole week.  A pricing structure that would encourage even people dropping in for a day would be nice.  I was in Seattle at the time of the conference but had been told there were no partial memberships for anything other than the whole thing.  ABANA is nice but it's not my total life.  I wanted to see Seattle too but the pricing structure made me chose one or the other.  I choose Seattle and Vancouver.  Re getting the magazines electronically.  I'm mixed on this.  I get the AABA one both ways.  I like electronically because I can really zoom into the pictures to study details.  But I prefer hardcopy for long-term storage.  Computers have too many problems to be the only available copy of something.  I couldn't print a PDF copy with as good of quality.  I like the Anvil's Ring and Hammers Blow. I do understand that production prices keep going up and I consider a quality magazine worth adjusting the budget for every few years.

keep the high quality pictures of work coming

General rant-Any smiths that live in my area don't appear to want to get together for any reason. No one wants to take time for anything other than work. If any do, it's only the well acquainted and experienced (or the SCA folks -not quite the same thing-it's a pretty shoestring operation, and they can really make up a lot of drinking stories) I will make do with the video rentals.     As far as ABANA goes, just keep trying to press on. I am sure that there are a few other members like me

more things for the beginner and intermediate blacksmiths to encourage them the field

Most of the info seems more advanced than normal blacksmithing.  I would like to see an alternative offering of beginning techniques and projects that would help get a person the training to advance.  I like the idea of journeyman programs and maybe even a standardized type of certifications.

Ok old business I'm a licensed pyrotechnician, and shoot as the "shooter in charge" for professional shows that makes me responsible everyone’s safety. Yes I have shot anvils, and before this goes farther I play by the rules so no ABMA shoots. Yes people have been hurt doing this, but there are rules that when applied would make this a lot less likely NFPA guidelines for example. Note that any activity caries risk and liabilities, I still do public demonstrations of blacksmithing.    So where are the articles on super charged power hammers and those other fun things, ABANA appears to be taking this way too seriously.    After 30 some years working with my own forge charter member of the local ABANA group, and nearing retirement so I can have more time at my forge where is ABANA going to be in 10 years?

I like the concept of blacksmithing, and belong to ABANA for the 2 magazines.  I would like to do more with it totally as a hobby, and occasionally fixing broken pieces on the farm.  I do enjoy local meetings when they are not to far off. I have enjoyed 2 ABANA meetings in Asheville and in Kentucky.  I thought both were overly large and expensive.  There were so many things going on I missed a lot of what I would have liked to seen.  Smaller more frequent "Regional" meetings would be more economical and probably draw more members overall.  Good Luck with the planning.

A lot of your members want how to articles which the Hammers blow is good for. I think some want the Ring to do the same. What they do not seam to understand is that the work in the Ring is to inspire then and to show what can be done. What I think would help the Blow is to try to lean to teaching how to do a process and not a particular project. (give a fish, teach to fish) Teach how to create your own projects, not copy a plan.   Also you need to try to address the needs of the professional smith. Yes they are not as big in numbers but they have a lot of information they can share. That can help ABANA grow.   ABANA need to help spread the word about blacksmithing (what is out there, what can be done, where to learn, where to get, where to have things made) TO THE PUBLIC, not just to its members.

Most smiths working in hot metal today are being challenged by the rising costs of the falling economy.  One of the most important missions for ABANA is to create a formal setting or settings for their members to display their work to the public. Gallery shows and juried exhibits need to take place often.  Invitations for metal shows are important for the non famous to survive.    If you want to display blacksmithing in the Anvils Ring please start to promote works that display more smithing and less Hi tech lath and fab. work.  Some of it is starting to look like the beginning elements were bought from King A and welded together.

Metalworking business workshops, etc cost quoting.

I would like to know more about professional development in this craft

More activities on the West coast would be appreciated.  Most training and activities seem to take place east of the Mississippi.  I realize the demographic in the West may be low, but I'm feeling a little lonely!

Conferences should be in smaller centers, not associated with an institution, in say a fair ground.  And everyone should pay, no free lunch, volunteers should be exactly that.

ABANA has great potential.  It has been seemingly stuck in turmoil in many ways.  I tend to work more in practical aspects.  Any "art" is probably accidental.  I also combine traditional and modern metalworking techniques.  I travel a lot for my day job.  We are planning for a regional event in New York State next fall.  I am interested in seeing how that format works out.

I am a fairly experienced metal worker always looking for NEW ideas, methods etc., as well as professional development and business advice from those who are successful at it. As far as magazine (ring and blow) content, I'd like more new and different how-to's and not more re-do's of the same stuff that you can find elsewhere.

Update the ABANA website, I can get I info from other sites long before they are posted on ABANA.    This is the third survey I have taken! I don’t know why it said I haven’t taken one.

I have three young students (16-17) working with me and I believe that that the ABANA membership fee is to high for them. But the quarterly publications are an inspiring part of their learning, having their own copy puts it readily at hand with out having to borrow.

I'm retired, have no place to practice 6 months of the year on the South Texas Gulf Coast. Have fun when at my shop in southeast Nebraska. Very satisfying to do whatever I please. Have no plans to expand. Enjoy association with other smiths and tinkering at whatever turns me on. I'm 82, in good health; no longer lift anvils etc. since double hernia surgery a year ago so I have dispersed my portable forging equipment. Love ABANA and its publications.

Thank you for all your hard work.

For as much as I pay for membership I would like to get more than 8 magazines a year.  I know my dues go to other things as well, but as someone who just does this as a hobby the amount of information I get for the price is outrageous.

Question 34 did not specify the number of days.  A 3 star hotel for <$150per night plus optional meals and receptions as events costing $20 to $50 per event.  At least one reception as part of the registration.

The one thing about ABANA that really bugs me is that you don't have Anvil's Ring and Hammer's Blow archives on-line.  (Heck, you don't even have a decent index on-line.)  These publications represent a vast repository of useful information, and you do your membership a great disservice by making this information so difficult to access.  If it's a money issue, charge a fee for on-line access, but it's obnoxious that the only way to get to this information is to buy paper copies of past issues (and that, after more-or-less guessing what they might contain).

Many of us would really like very much to do this for a living. Any possible leads on employment situations would be helpful. Such as Railroads, Steel Mills, Shipyards, Fabrication Shops, Places that need working blacksmiths should be connected with guys looking for employment. Many of us don't consider ourselves "artists" and we don't call our shops "studios". Try to remember us too. Thanks

More vendors for misc., tools, tool steel, more DVD's

We need conferences. That is the whole point. They should be in rotating locations around the country. They should be at fairground-type locations with plenty of cheap real estate. Tailgaters should be encouraged. One common banquet. Fund-raising auction afterwards: encourage donations of books already read, superseded tools, special steel stock left over from recent projects---anything remotely related to blacksmithing---not just items made by blacksmiths for sale to other blacksmiths who could make the things themselves just as easily. Food vendors at all other times (not just roach coaches---interesting ethnic ones) so people do not have to leave the site during demonstrations searching for overloaded local restaurants. Organize demonstration schedules in advance, post the schedules and stick to them.

Try to find corporate sponsorship for magazine, newsletters, local hammer-ins and national conference.      Perhaps set an upper limit on domestic travel reimbursement for demonstrators as a cost saving measure.  I know that for a few conferences in which I was part of a demonstration group, I wouldn't have minded too much if all that was covered was the conference fee, some portion (half, perhaps) of my room and board, and some fraction of my travel costs.  Particularly as I was part of a group.  I think that individual demonstrators who may have to prepare a lot and perform their demo several times should be better compensated that I was when I was part of the Latane group.  Just a thought.  I think I'd have probably been willing to be part of the group for the conference fee, and some of the travel, paying for my own room and board.  This somewhat could depend on how far I had to travel, though.

I was not able to find a membership list on the website. I think the more we are able to communicate with each other the better. For my particular situation, more info on what others do to create consistent income from their business would be helpful.

More info on traditional/historical methods and products. Also, most articles are 'art' oriented or beyond the reach in tooling for small operations and hobbyists.

I really enjoy being a member of ABANA, as of now I have no complaints.

I volunteered to be appointed to the ABANA Board, that's the single best thing I think any member could do to improve ABANA.

I am a 51 year old female student in a private art school in Detroit. I am learning not so much for a career, but to be productive in retirement, and possibly include this work in Art Therapy as a potential part-time career.  I wouldn't mind a stand alone publication that has photographic illustrations of step-by-step for projects and would pay appropriately for the subscription (similar to Woodturners Journal, Ceramics Illustrated). I want to be able to do repousse and cast work into smithing and have not yet found my preferred area of work. I seem to like to do a little of everything.    This survey shows you are interested in what I want to learn, and I am exceptionally curious to see how my opinion will be implemented. It is something I don't see from other Craft organizations.

As more of a traditional blacksmith I do not care for the anvils ring. It is too modern for my liking. If it was not for the hammers blow I probably would not renew my membership.

We need a conf. every other year. Guess outside of U.S. and do not put them together in one tent.

I do not know the whole situation however, There is nothing wrong with starting form the basics again. We as artist/blacksmiths are interested in just that, Not entertainment Not food? Although these are nice. We are there for who we are and what we do. Good luck and thank you.

Making training opportunities available regionally (perhaps have an annual "traveling" demonstrator/trainer stipend. Have the training brought to each region during the year and shared with local ABANA affiliates as a group.

I was privileged to attend the Seattle conference in 2006 with the Australians. It was an excellent experience. I have been involved in organization of other large professional and academic conferences in Electronic Engineering. They are quite different of course, but the use of poster sessions for early workers and shorter contributions is a significant feature. For ABANA I would be interested in metallurgical sessions. Oh, I just bought a plasma cutter; it would be good to have articles or demos of such techniques.

Advertisements in The Anvils Ring are items available overseas etc.

Get the old office person back. Quit catering to the hobby smiths and concentrate on professional smiths. After all are they not what built ABANA?

I feel that there are too many pronouncements about the impending doom of ABANA. Just do what you think is right! Be bold! Give the membership something to disagree with. Give us a chance to passionately debate issues. If members feel that they cannot handle decisions of the board, then we either need to elect new board members or resign our membership. I wish you the best of luck!

I am delighted with the survey, if there is anything else I can do to help ABANA, please feel free to contact me.

Conferences in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado.

It would be nice if there was more for beginners/novices to make getting into and learning this trade/hobby easier and more appealing. Maybe a beginner’s package that could be purchased and even different ones to fit different budgets, a basic one with say just info/book and a hat or shirt, all the way up to a package that would include tools.

I know of several people who will not submit photos of their work to The Anvil's Ring because they do not want to be compared to professional work from large shops with a number of employees.  The Anvil's Ring needs to decide if it is a Trade publication for Professional smiths or an Association's publication to foster growth in the traditional methods for the amateur and small studio smith.  Most of the people I know either work by themselves or have 1 helper.

I doubt I would ever leave Alaska because of the air fare. However I would love to see some increased access to your website. If advertisers would help shoulder the cost, perhaps Google’s AdSense program could help earn a few bucks. Knowing you were on AdSense I would often click through to increase your revenue. Perhaps you could make old copies of your magazines available to view online? Perhaps you do this already; I will go take a look at your site, now.

I believe if a return to a greater affiliate responsibility for conferences might be advisable.  Greater openness and communication will build trust and understanding.  I understand there is NO compensation for board persons.  That in fact restricts involvement of those that are less secure in their personal or business finances.  There is the extent of what a full participation or practical participation in board or conference work?  Many of us who are not active may change their minds if it seems doable in time, money, thus commitment.    Is there a program in place of on the drawing board to build teaching skills for events as does California? That might be one unexplored avenue toward greater and new involvement from the sidelines.    Thank you for all you do.

This is an excellent questionnaire; no forced choices and room for explanations and individual answers unexpected by the authors.  You are also asking the right questions for a sense of your audience.  (I complained earlier about the ABANA-CERF survey which did none of these things.)    I don't need any answer to these comments, but I do not like to submit anonymous answers so am including my name.      Keep up the good work!

Hammers Blow is a joke and the Ring often misses the mark

ABANA needs to get over the club mentality and establish itself as a major organization in the arts and crafts. The Central Office should move to Memphis, be housed in the new library and join forces with the Metal Museum to promote the art and craft of smithing. The Board should stop micro-managing and raise funds through grants and corporate sponsorship so that the Central Office can be staffed with more than one person and have an Executive Director. Time to grow up and get off Mom's couch....You're 35 years old.

Need to have more instructional tapes, videos. It would also be better if there was some kind of lesson guide to compliment what groups already use

Wish Hammers Blow had more raw info and useful tips.....


The Anvil's Ring has become a sculpture magazine and less about blacksmithing.    I have attended two previous conferences and got a lot out of them.  They made money.  Look at the last conference as to why it went bust.  It was obviously a bust because of decisions by a few.  Get those people out of the loop.

I am quite pleased with the two publications and the annual fee is reasonable.  I have yet to attend an annual conference, but the offerings are always terrific and plan on making one in the not too distant future.  On a separate note, I think that some people get way too hung up on politics and protocol.

Organizations change just as its members do.  I read about all the controversy old vs. new artsy vs. traditional.  This kind of stuff is normal for an organization like this.  ABANA is defined by its members, and 20% of the people are always going to do 80% of the work and that handful of complainers can spoil even the best of days.  With the increase in blacksmithing over the past few years, it is no wonder the old guys feel pushed out, you new people are doing things to metal that most of these guys can not even fathom, and the only response they know is fear - when probably their real response is envy.  They don't call or acknowledge it as smithing because they are smiths, and if they don't get it, then it is not smithing.    I say - keep up the good work guys!  You should all be commended for the time and energy spent on this very worth cause.  Remember - "those who do not truly understand, lash out in fear not in hate"

I have only been a member two years and just signed up for a third year. I like everything so far. Not sure I would go to the annual conference because it is hard for me to take time off right now. In another five years I will have more time to travel.     Keep doing what you are doing. Keep both publications. I love the pictures in the Anvils Ring and the technical write ups in the Hammers Blow.

As a three year beginner, I prefer training material; Projects, tips, equipment etc, but I understand this organization as a professional organization. I have attended the New England School of Metalworking for A week long beginners class ( Frank Turley & Dereck Glaser instructed )I hope to continue this as a annual training. The Hammers Blow projects and tips have been very useful in my training. I have many of the popular books that your publications have led me to for continued instructions and guides. I LOVE this craft, wish I had started many years ago, but it is a great retirement program and I may even make a buck at some point. I have used the Guru's den for help several times and enjoy reading the text of other’s Keep up the good work.

It would be good if affiliates recognized ABANA membership instead of insisting on additional fees. It would at least be nice if ABANA members could have discount membership in affiliate organizations, or vice-versa.

I think the anvil's ring needs to be on a Hephaestus level. I think the dear editor section is not efficient in a quarterly magazine. I think we need quality, mid advanced technique discussion. Something on the level of Dan Nauman/Tom Latane, or Mark Aspery type of smithing. There should be an incentive to write an article that makes it to publishing.   I think ABANA is doing a great job and I am excited to get the magazines, I just feel I need more advanced information to further my understanding of smithing.

Stupid question about owing a computer if I am doing this on line, don't you think?  Most everyone I talk to think you have outgrown your pants and don't care for the traditional blacksmith as we once were.  This artsy stuff if nice but that is not what we started out as, or most of us want to see.  There are a lot of wonderful artist out there that are sick and tired of the high prices for what they get.  Wake up and smell the sulfur and remember what we are all about.  Bring in American artist who do traditional smithing and get a hold of the cost.

As a largely self taught smith the lack of journeyman qualifications is a concern. Reinstating this program and testing and accrediting north American smiths would help me personally professionally and critically, I could then offer an apprenticeship with tangible prospects which would be huge.

I was totally surprised by the way that the Board positions were selected this time. I was the first runner up in the last election by 14 votes and was not told that the vacancies were going to be filled in this manor.   I would like to see the Web site updated in a timelier manor so that the membership will know of any and all changes that are happening. I do support the Board in all that you are doing and I have started a membership in the OBG.     I don’t think it is proper to contact non ABANA members in an affiliate group to ask them to head up an ABANA membership drive instead of asking or even notifying ABANA members of the OBG Board to give the push for membership. There are 3 ABANA members on the OBG Board. We are doing a membership drive in our group though because we would like to see ABANA grow and again be a positive movement in the Southeastern States.

I do not wish to make it seem as though ABANA should exist solely to produce conferences, but I believe many people belong for that reason. A conference and its planners should concentrate on the function of the conference and its affordability. Entertainment and social venues should be left to the attendees. The public face of ABANA is its publications. The Hammers Blow works well for its technical function. The Anvils Ring still leaves something to be desired. I compare it to NOMMA's Fabricator magazine. ABANA somehow needs to attract more professionals to write in depth articles on how they build certain projects. Take its readers through the real process and not just the fluff and anecdotes. I feel giving a graphic understanding of the process would help ABANA to promote the education of its core group and the public, instead of just printing a few pictures and nice words about work.

Thanks for asking I’ll think on that one a bit. I appreciate the survey and ABANA moving forward.

The cost of mail to Canada seems problematic. To minimize costs could you sent both magazines at the same time or ship them bulk to Canada and have them mailed from a Canadian post office?

Increase communication about issues.  Use the "Forge" and publications to get the message out.  Have board members go to regional meets and talk to members.  Eliminate expensive demonstrators that don't do a great job of demonstrating (Example: D. Gerikaris squishing pipe and torching it. No smithing, just fabricating).  Be more open about $$costs, expenses and needs.  Where are the final figures for Seattle?  Be sure to have a lot of tailgating at any conference.  Add a historical section to Anvils Ring, both smiths of the past and their work, and equipment history, anvils, hammers, etc.  If there is another conference, make the board members sit with random members at meals, not all together like a high school clique.  More as I think of it.

Optimistic about the new leadership.  It will take a collaborative effort among the affiliate organizations to build the foundation for future endeavors.  Would like to see a demographic study of the membership to see what areas of the country has the most members.  The web page needs updating.

My boss feels that ABANA does not meet the needs of the professional in this business.

I would pay more to have a monthly magazine

You may go to my web site ferndaleblacksmith.com click on the redwood logo and read the final report of our last conference.

Need more public relations to make potential buyers aware of artistic and crafty blacksmithing. Interior designers, architect, collectors need to be cultivated. We cover the full range from jewelry to public sculpture. I know of an art museum curator who had no earthly idea about our skills and art. Smithing, today, is more than horse shoeing.  Also, the travel program should be revived, that the Masters had so personally organized. There are eco-travel agencies. Some would probably like to specialize.

We are in trying times.  I that you all for stepping up and running.  I could not due to time but I would like to help if I can.  So if serving on a committee is the answer let me know, if stuffing envelopes is the answer let me know, if manning the ABANA booth is....  I will try.

A more comprehensive and up to date calendar including non ABANA grants available, as well as more information on up coming gallery shows.

Figure out what people can spend and then see where you get the most for your buck. Don’t spend high dollars to get someone to conference to find out they can't demo in the states.

I am interested in ABANA because of the scholarship opportunities, the potential of a journeyman's program, and the potential of attending international caliber blacksmithing conferences. These conferences must be affordable for working smiths and on site camping should be included in the conference fee. An up to date journeyman's program would be hugely helpful to me and several other young smiths that I know.

I think ABANA is doing OK as far as meeting my needs.  I was very disappointed to hear the next conference was cancelled.  I can't understand how we could fail to make ends meet for a conference.  Our local conference which usually has about 200 to 230 attendees makes at least a 30% surplus over expenses.  And that is with food included in the price of admission.     Is there any way I could get more detailed information on ABANA conference revenue and expenses.  I would specifically like to know how many get in for free or at a reduced rate.  What were our expenses on demonstrators (broken down as far as possible)?  Some of this information may be on the ABANA website and I have not looked for it in the past if so please let me know.      At our conference everybody pays full price to get in except the demonstrators.  We only refund money to those who send the whole conference in the kitchen working to feed the rest of us.

Takes awhile to navigate through the web site.  I enjoy the small project demos (Bill Epps etc.)

How to articles in the Ring were always interesting.

I have gotten into metals within the past three years and am retired. I truly enjoy learning about different techniques, tools, and processes.  I am not concerned with making money from my endeavors but enjoy larger scale projects such as gates and exterior sculpture done simply for the joy of seeing the finished product.  I am interested in working with new metals (cor10 steel, silicone bronze and other metals I have yet to discover.

I think the broad scope of projects in the anvils ring is great. And the basic skills covered in the hammers blow are good but there could be more...the web site is a little....light...take a look at the variety on i-forge-iron...that’s what the ABANA site should have for participation...there are lots of talented blacksmiths ignoring ABANA

I read the BABA journal and notice that they seem to get along with much less complaining and self examination.  Dissenting views seem to be expressed with more courtesy and circumspection, and sometimes at a higher level.  Maybe there's a "lighten up" lesson in there somewhere.

Good luck!

I think visits to well seasoned shops alternating with visits with starting up shops, would be interesting and educational, we always learn something at "the other guy's shop!”.  The resulting product of those visits, presented in the two "magazines" would benefit the organization as a whole. There is always something to learn and share.

I'm a high school sculpture teacher that needs blacksmithing tools.  If there are any people or companies that are willing to help provide these items I need to make contact with them.

I would like to see more coverage of international events in the Anvil's Ring, no matter how big or small.  This would probably mean ABANA making contact before the event and having someone put together an article.  The are a lot of blacksmith groups around the world so it would be interesting to see what, how and why is being done globally would like to know what is being done in maybe Finland, Russia and India, we all have a common interest.

I am a member basically to support the ideals of ABANA. I personally don’t rely heavily on your resources. However blacksmithing resources would be very hard to come by without groups like ABANA.

Please continue to showcase the best work in the anvils ring so our craft can continue to grow. We should teach the beginners and inspire the accomplished.

I visit US one or two times a year so the ABANA conference is seldom possible for me to attend.  Grateful for anything I get from the organization, the newsletters are very good and inspirational.

would be willing to have e mail publication if membership costs were reduced


I would like to see more learning in the anvils ring.  I like the displays but like to know how they got there.   Including applying patinas, joining techniques, shop layout needed to produce these projects, man hours in the project, pricing, etc.

I think ABANA, in general, is doing a great job.  I like both of the magazines, but some of the work in "the Anvils Ring" is a little too avant-garde for my taste. I would prefer more traditional blacksmithing and metalsmithing work to be highlighted, but as they say "different strokes for different folks".   The only gripe I have is the cost of the conference.  My son-in-law is also a member of ABANA and the cost kept both of us away from the LaCrosse conference a few years back.  With the cost of travel, lodgings, etc., the fee was just too much for hobbyists to Justify.  I very much wanted to attend but was taken aback when I saw the cost.  A daily gate fee of $35 or so would have been acceptable, as we could only spent one day there due to work considerations.

My wife and I where lucky in the fact that we worked the auction crew in Seattle other wise it would have been cost prohibitive for us to go and be there the whole time. We are both "hobbyist" smiths with decent paying other jobs; I could see how that a self employed smith with a small shop could not afford the cost of the conference and, the cost of the travel to get there. We need to get back to what these are about, a bunch of blacksmiths getting together to learn from each other and have a good time with people who share a common interest. Not trying to make a "hanger" look like a downtown art gallery.

I have been really pleased with the quality of the Anvil's Ring and the Hammer's Blow.  Also any items that I purchased from the ABANA store were either helpful for reference material and of good quality for product.


I think blacksmiths in general are more independent than the average population.  It may become a bit frustrating to attain a "general consensus" about anything.  Good luck!

Is there a membership list for finding local smiths?  conferences at universities is great

I most object to the AR - it looks like the farriers magazine. It shows too much welding and fabrication. Certainly they have their place, but supposedly this is for blacksmiths! It should showcase the best we can produce; encourage those who are learning to aspire toward the work of the masters - not show them shortcuts to fabricated pieces with panels from Italia iron! Sound like a curmudgeon, I know. But if the AR does not show excellence how may anyone become excellent in their craft?

Let the affiliates bid on doing the conference and split the proceeds with them. I think you will end up with a better conference that doesn't kill the board members.    Lower the cost of attending. You will make it up with greater attendance. Also, look at doing it at an indoor stadium. They have motorcycle races and truck pulls inside, our smoke is nothing compared to that.     Make sure you have good sound and seating for the demos. I hate not being able to see what is going on, and think about setting up large screens with video cameras showing close ups of what is being done so everyone can see it.     Do a mix of mid level and advanced demos. For the new guys have a separate section with teaching stations where they can get some hands on with an experienced smith to show them some pointers.     I'm not so interested in seeing a whole gate get built, but I want to learn how to do all the elements in the gate.     Good luck to you all. I hope you can bring things back around and get ABANA back on track. It's a shame to see it sliding.

Expand the teaching and beginner articles in the Hammer's Blow. (possibly make it into a monthly magazine) The new people joining the organization need to feel they are getting something in return for their membership dues. They will be the future core of ABANA. A lot of the "older" blacksmiths still have a resentment over the anvil shooting incident and are not that interested in ABANA

Look to the Bavarian conference from august 6th to 10th 2008 in Kolbermoor. Organized with the World Conference of The Damascus Association. It is a low budget event for the central events around blacksmithing. And you have to decide how much money you will spend for meals: small lunches or fine meals in restaurants. Sleep in your bag for 5 $ per night without any comfort, in camper or hotel. It is not the thing of the organizer. Participants have to pay about 25 $ and they are allowed to all official parts of the biennale.    Perhaps you will find some new ways or parts of a way to get another ABANA-Conference.

As a (recently "retired") affiliate newsletter editor I enjoyed receiving most of the newsletters from around the country and Canada. It has given me an up to date overview of blacksmithing in general and massive amounts of priceless information. I am happy with the Anvil's Ring. The only improvement I would like to see made with the Hammer's Blow is to make it 3-4-5 times thicker. A lot of the material for such an expansion could be gleaned from affiliate newsletters. There are so many tips, tricks, tools, and stories of interest that are just never seen by the larger blacksmithing community. Brian does an excellent job and I would be glad to assist him in any way possible.

Trying to be everything to everyone is really a major problem, it a problem that is almost non fixable. I realize your problem and so many members do not…    In my beginning I was truly influenced and inspired by the first 30 issues of the anvil ring, since then things have drastically changed and you tried to fix them with the Hammers Blow, but it is not working.  Again not your fault because I know its all supported by member submissions,     Maybe you need a writer along with an editor,   Maybe you need to spotlight working shops.  Maybe you need to cover and review any metal show that includes blacksmithing.  Maybe you need a one site semi annual conference like SOFA in troy Ohio with a 1000 participants.  Maybe you could eliminate the board gathering one or twice a year with all the travel cost and R&B and use that money for a reporter/writer.

At this point in time I believe that you are doing a great job. After I retire from my job I will be MUCH more active in blacksmithing and I will then have a better idea of the roll that ABANA and AABA will play in terms of the services you can provide.

Other craft/trade magazines seem much more professional and show some of the best work in the field.  Blacksmithing magazines tend to be sort of hokey and I don't think that helps our craft at all.

ABANA has two main responsibilities to its membership to fulfill its mission; a good quality magazine to shop what the members are doing and a conference every other year for the membership to come together.  Scholarships and grants are icing on the cake and worthwhile.  But no conference, that's just sad.

I believe the ABANA conferences that I have attended ( were a good experience and unforgettable. I think they have gotten too large and expensive for the average person to attend when the same educational experience can be obtained at the local level. With budget overruns that have occurred recently to cause the 2008 to be cancelled I thinks it shows the membership is not increasing to the same scale the conferences have grown. Also in the past 20 years the local affiliates have been creating Regional conferences that compete with ABANA’s conference causing low attendance or lack of interest. So if ABANA is interested in education/promotion of blacksmithing / sculptors / art…etc. the support of local affiliates could be an opportunity to do this and probably less expensive.

Increase the quality of Hammer's Blow.  Cut the non essentials.  If the conferences come back have overseas demonstrators as long as it doesn't break the bank.

I love ABANA and will support it as it grows and changes. The survival and evolution of ABANA is critical to the future of blacksmithing.

More educational downloads. I am not an artist.

I think the political bickering that ABANA has fallen into is a shame.   I am astounded to see that the Seattle conference was allowed to run $200k over budget (~100% over, I think)--with an unknown amount unsettled. In business, people would and should be fired over this kind of error.     I think that the single largest issue ABANA has with its members is financial accountability. We are on a make or break edge; I don't know if ABANA will still be here in a couple of years.

This survey inspired me to spend some time tooling around the web site.  It really is rather good.

I think you have the right idea in following the lead of locals like CBA and AABA, for conferences. Seattle was my first ABANA conference, it was a two day drive for me in California, and I could have just as easily driven to some place in the center of the US.   An organization like this needs to support and be a resource for affiliates, be a friend, they have a lot to share that can make ABANA stronger.

Beyond the comments above, I don't feel it is my place to make comments about what is essentially your organization.  I have made some good friends at various conferences. Perhaps the most important thing to me is the opportunity to keep in touch with them.

I am only a hobby blacksmith. I enjoy both magazines and I have attended one conference (Seattle).  I am not active in ABANA or either of the state groups I belong to. I hope to attend more demonstrations and events as my schedule allows, but will probably never be an active member.  Because of this, I am hesitant to comment about the direction of the organization.  ABANA must decide how best to serve its members and what are best for long-term growth and viability.   Is it a trade association to help blacksmiths be successful in business?  Is it a club for hobbyists?  Can you do both effectively?

I'm still feeling my way around.  So far I am well pleased with ABANA.  Thank you.

I love art. I also love craft; I am often vexed what the difference is but, there are a lot of schools/ universities which teach art in the nation, almost none which teach blacksmithing craft. I think it is our obligation to stick to our charter/mission statement and teach. If that includes some art/sculpture class...Great. Some business classes to help us market our work better....Sa-weeeet. It should not be at the expense of the craft or the loss of instruction.

On top of a busy shop, I have many projects and community minded efforts that consume much of my time and, honestly, ABANA has never been something I felt the need to dive into fully and participate in as a central focus.  In fact I‘m so out of touch with the details that I hadn’t even heard anything about canceling the 2008 conference until this survey.      However, with that being said, when I’ve needed inspiration or some technical information, ABANA has far exceeded any other organization that I was a member of before.  The impact ABANA has had on my career and ability to make a living with my work has been worth far more than the reasonable membership dues.  I’d say it was even integral.  The 2004 conference in Richmond, Kentucky was where I purchased my first air hammer… something that opened doors that I didn’t even know existed.  It would be a sad thing if this type of opportunity was not available to some future smith who was growing her or his shop.    Though my love for ABANA has been somewhat at a distance, it is genuine love none-the-less, and something I would lament sorely if it were to disappear.  The Anvil’s Ring and The Hammer’s Blow are both wonderful publications to receive and they help me to stay in touch with my trade and field.    All in all, ABANA serves my needs beyond expectations

I'd like to see occasional local (within 100 miles or so) workshops that I can plan to attend.  The problem with local groups is that one never knows what is on tap for a particular meeting.

More up to date information on the website relating to ABANA. i.e. Clare Yellins president’s message has been posted for a very long time even though members have heard gossip and rumors about the demise of ABANA. More OPEN DISCUSSION would be helpful. Maybe that would lead to more understanding among members and the board.

The Website needs work, but I feel this issue is well known. More frequent up dating and information such as galleries. I would like to see an exchange program for smiths to travel and work around North America and Europe. I am thinking of short periods of time , say 1 to 2 weeks.

The trends in home decoration in this area have moved more toward modern and away from the mountain rustic which lent itself very well to hand forged goods. somehow it might be helpful to address this trend with blacksmithing

The debate of art vs. craft has been a thorn in ABANA since 1973. An on going struggle of rural vs. city, north vs. south. This debate and your continued propagation of catering to the squeaky wheels coupled with a lack of vision has hampered ABANA's contribution to the field. Get to the essence of what is good forging, good design, and good craftsmanship and quit worrying about what hat people are wearing.    ABANA was all important in my personal pursuit of forge work in the early stages but failed beyond the beginner’s level. Now there are sufficient beginner opportunities with few opportunities for professionals.    Regarding the conferences, I have not attended due to scheduling being at the busiest season for the professional smiths.

Sorry, but I've been in the thick of remodeling for over 3 years and missed my membership for 2 years without even noticing!  Head down and full bore.  Sorry 'bout that.

I enjoy the artistic and architectural emphasis but it seems ratio of full time A/B versus casual/hobby smiths leads to a really hard process of balancing information/articles. The magazines do a good job of separating the two but a lot of the content from hammers blow is available on most of the club websites around the country. Maybe some content from some of the other smiths around the world could be incorporated into hammers blow. Also would like to see some smithing history or similar articles from around the world. Desiring more content and promoting smithing to the whole A/B community costs money, it would be acceptable to raise dues or offer options that require an investment as long as the increases are justified and the operations of these programs, including conferences, are held accountable to the people who are paying for these programs and events.

I would love to go to some of the conferences and take some classes like at Penland or John C. Campbell and keep my memberships going too but everything seems to be getting to be more money and I know it is not your fault (I am whinnying) I really want to stay with this because every bit of info is so important to me, since I am trying to learn this on my own. I can't even make it to the Bat House Forge any more since gas has gone up so much( they are about 1&1/2 hours one way).So I guess that's enough crying. Thanks for listening

Overall I am happy with the service provided.

A group with which I am associated is planning on starting a blacksmith guild in Western North Carolina. Please contact me re: affiliation with ABANA

I have found that there are some good links that give me ideas for demonstrations for the grade three students who visit us. We have approximately 800 to 1000 students visit each year. Ideas and stories to bring blacksmithing to life for these students are appreciated. I would think other smiths who are asked to do demos all the time would appreciate some new stories. I like the blacksmith in Florida who talks about upsetting when making square nails. This is a major demo for our students. He says "you can remember what the term for upsetting is because if someone got you hot and then hit you on the head you would be upset too." Nice line to use sometimes. Stories about how important square nails were are popular. How families made extra money making nails is good. The history of nails and when did the round nail come into being is a frequent question.

I would like the Anvil's Ring to make shop visits with equipment, products, techniques, etc., shown and discussed.     I would like ABANA to develop and maintain a currency with relevant equipment, alloys, abrasives, etc. and provide details and sources. Drill Presses, saws, welding equip, CAD, any number of things would provide a several page article of great value.     I would like to see an earnings income/expenses report that covered some various ranges of blacksmithing/metalworking/sculpture, etc. This should also include general business and profit issues.    I would like to see more professional coverage of foreign and traditional blacksmithing in other countries...especially third world.    I believe ABANA should assume some responsibility for high quality, professional DVD's as a profit making enterprise within the organization.

ABANA needs a professional executive director to help the board get its act together. The past several years there have been too many problems that seem to stem from the board not handling things in a professional manner. These perceptions may not be entirely true but it is the general perception of the members I know.

How can I get in touch with my local affiliate?

I think ABANA should have a touch mark registry and a membership directory.    What is the feasibility of having a touch mark making station at the conference?

This last conference was the best ever for me and I could not be more sad to hear there will not be one in 2008.

More non-architectural photos and articles.

Closer watch of the way the money is spent

I would like to see ABANA produce a consolidated (annual?) resource reference listing that would include quality (and blacksmith friendly) material suppliers, equipment manufacturers, training programs, etc. This could be a separate publication or an on-line resource.  This listing could also include tips for buying (e.g., current average costs of steel, coal, propane, etc.), material storage and handling (patina chemicals, etc.) and major events for the year (affiliate conferences, major blacksmith shows/exhibits, etc.).    Thank you for the opportunity to comment and keep up the good work!

Quite Frankly I think everything is pretty well done. I was surprised to discover that the organization was in such trouble, and was surprised at the apathy of many members, but that is often the case as organizations develop and mature. It seems that a core group is always responsible for the majority of the organization, and membership is happy to let them do most of the work. Good luck, I hope that ABANA can continue to prosper. I don't necessarily agree with the premise that to be successful you must grow membership, bank balances, exposure etc. every year. What is so bad about maintaining a nice even keel for members, and carrying on with a healthy simple organization? Even though I didn't attend the last conference, IMO it was overdone, and too commercialized.

The Anvil's Ring is my exposure to what other smiths are doing! I can figure out how the artists did what they did by the pictures and what the trends might be in iron work. This helps me to develop new tools and styles for my iron work. The Anvil's Ring is my BEST source for broadening my scope of iron work! I belong to two affiliates but don't travel to the meetings or workshops because of the distance. I have not been to a national conference.

I am in agreement with Toby Hickman, that strong magazines, and bi-annual conferences, are the two most valuable things ABANA can provide THAT LOCALS AFFILLIATES CANNOT.    The communication value of the magazines and conferences, even in this era of the internet, is invaluable. Plus, its fun to see all my friends.

Thanks for all you and the Board do. Really. Some of the criticism in Anvil's Ring seems unwarranted, IMHO.

The conferences have been good, but too fancy.  I attend conferences for work that are in different places each year, which is good.  But at these conferences, meals are on your own except for one banquet, which is good.  Also, these conferences often provide reduced rates at nearby/onsite hotels, which is good.  ABANA does not the hassle/bother of setting up on sites that can provide food/lodging packages.  Further, if cutting costs means no international demonstrators, then do it.  They do not generally provide me with information that can't be learned by watching North American smiths.  Granted, the Japanese knife/swordmakers bring a lot.  But the expense of the conferences MUST come down.

Already doing a great job, but the next generation probably prefers electronic communication and interactivity.

It's hard to find a blacksmith to work with to show you everything that goes into doing architectural ironwork, mainly gates, fences, and railings.  If there were a workshop/school offered, even if it was several weeks it would be a great opportunity.  The classes could even be broken down by category: gates, fences, railings.  Three different classes.    Thanks for your efforts!

IDEAS    1. I would like a how-to section for mid level smiths. Beginners are well-served by the HB, advanced smiths know how to take care of themselves. Offer this on the Web/in the HB/in the AR. You decide the vehicle.    2. Offer membership options. Lesser fee for less service such as making hardcopies of both printed publications optional. Members who choose to view them online save money. Pass on the reduced cost to those who choose reduced services. I would likely opt to receive the AR by mail but would be content to view the HB online (if publications keep their current form and content).    3. Greater support for CanIRON. Not sure what form this support would take but could range from financial to administrative.   a) Maybe assistance in creating an event planning binder that could be passed from one CanIRON to the next. By the time each CanIRON concludes, the host group is too burnt out to compile such a document and the next group starts from square one every time.  b) Assist CanIRON in securing equipment vendors/suppliers for the trade show & sale area. Bringing these products across the border can be an administration nightmare for a first timer. Support would include encouragement to attend and admin assistance or at a minimum a published list of Do's and Don'ts.  c) Help CanIRON to secure equipment for demonstrator stations (big anvils, tongs, PHs, coal and propane forges). I helped organize CanIRON III and we were blessed by 4 Bull 125s from Tom Trozak and 1 Sayha from Tom Clark (2 of the Bulls sold at the event!). I attended CanIRON V and VI where they had to make-do with old power hammers from their own members.    Thanks for listening.

Getting president and liaison messages again would be nice as I am an Editor for the NJBA and do the web site for them and NBA. It doesn't look good for ABANA if no one hears from them. I try to post the messages in a timely manner so I can tell others where to refer to them. I am already on the Editors and liaison lists for contact.

Would like to see a blacksmithing history put together as a teacher's aid.  Most kids that I do demos for have NO idea what a blacksmith did or does.  The first question is always about horses!      The role of the smith in American history alone is very important to the country we live in.  In the history of the human race, its importance cannot be stressed enough.    In a world where everything is cyber-this & cyber-that, getting it hot, hitting it hard and then, if it's good enough, putting your name on it may change some lives!

thanks for the survey

It would be nice to see the demonstrators create something at the conference that could pay for or at least a large portion of their fee.  While doing small bits of the project is fine, they should also bring with what time will not permit them to make the day of and assemble the project and sell it at the auction.

I cannot even try and answer the previous question, #34, since the length of any given Conference is unknown, the amount of time any person will spend at a Conference, AND, location, location, location has everything to do with the cost of a room and board package, i.e.; Seattle vs. Flagstaff.

I'm afraid I'm too new to make much useful impact, save to ask if a few pages of the Anvil's Ring could be tailored to the novice.  I'm not suggesting that it be a large section, but a single page with a valuable tip or examination of how a detail of the work created in the issue was made would broaden the appeal of the magazine.

I guess I don't expect much from large organizations. Sometimes it's people who want some kind of power; sometimes we get too big an idea too.    The main thing for me is talking with people who have experiences to share. Design, running a business, dealing with corp. or govt. art grants; building inspector issues etc.  Blacksmith blogs and Q & A sites are good. This is an age of incredible communications so we should use it all. But ultimately it all comes down to what all the people are willing to contribute. For me it's really difficult to get past the current work load, plan future jobs, design things and then go home to soccer games, chores (family life!) and then be a contributor to a national organization. Local works better for me I guess. Good luck with ABANA. I do think it's needed.

Get back to basics


I wish that the website would have listings of professional smiths and their shops, listed either by state or by city. I'm just getting started, and finding a good local professional smith to apprentice with is difficult. You can't just open the phone book and look under "Blacksmith's." Perhaps the listings could even have a photo or two representative of what the smith does. Gear more things toward the next generation of smith's, in order to help them get the ball rolling with their careers. It takes a lot of hard work and a huge commitment to get into this business and be successful, so the more help and assurance you can give to the younger generation, the better. Getting younger people, from kids to college students, into b-smithing is the best insurance you have to make sure that this craft thrives.

The ABS has made their journeyman/master program really work for ABS and for those who wish to take their work to the top of the line. Both have pocketed from this.

Always interested in anything that will make me a better demonstrator. I spend at least 8 weekends a year demonstrating blacksmithing at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California. I get lots of camaraderie and information (with informed opinions!) on TheForge Mailing List, sponsored by ABANA.

Keep conferences simple without a lot of frills - KISS.  Good demonstrators but don't bust the budget with a lot of international demonstrators.  Quad State Round Up sets the standard for blacksmithing conferences.    ABANA should be run in a business like manner.  Term limits for board members is a change sorely needed.

I will talk to Chris about my ideas on this, from the perspective of a former Board member and President during the heady years of anvil shoots.

25 years ago, I thought that by now blacksmithing would be challenging ceramics for space in the National crafts magazines and craft galleries. Most issues of American Craft will have nothing related to blacksmithing. I wish that ABANA could do more to promote forged work as a visual art medium.  Like creating juried shows outside our own forums and venues, workshops on photographing ironwork, create listing of professional photographers with experience shooting ironwork, list invitational shows that blacksmiths could enter in the Anvils Ring etc. I love seeing Albert Paley's work anywhere, anytime, but he seems to be one of the few blacksmiths in Galleries or in art publications. This is due to his efforts and skills, but there are so many fantastic smiths these days, maybe a little help could bring a lot more exposure to the craft.

I love the Anvil's Ring, as it exposes me to lots of new ideas and inspirations. It is reassuring to see others doing similar work to mine sometimes. The Hammer's Blow is good, too. I had a great time at the conference in La Crosse. But the tents were not very well identified and it was sometimes unclear who was demonstrating what in which tent at what time. I learned a lot from the demonstrations I did see, and I like being exposed to people and techniques from other countries. In a way, I like the idea of moving the conference around, as I like variety, but many of them are a long way from me, and I don't attend for that reason. A central location might be better, because it would become predictable and familiar after attending. Something to count on, for attendees and planners as well. I belong to a model engine club, and there are model engine shows at the same locations every year, throughout the year. It is nice to have these to look forward to. Good luck!

Heavy on the technical skills section and business needs/i.e. efficiency of all non-smithing costs so smiths can smith...

As CBA Education Chair, I would appreciate receiving a copy of the results from this survey.

Overall, a very good organization. At my level, I just can't get enough excellent “how to” and demo type things.

I putter around in the school shop and make a few things now and then.  I try to teach basic blacksmithing to my metalwork students and many of them love it.  Unfortunately, I only have one forge and one anvil, and I have to teach many other things, so it is impossible to build a program and advance beyond coat hooks and pokers.  Anyway, I loved the conference, I took lessons at the Old Cedar Forge down in Washington, and I love getting your magazines - they give me ideas, inspire me, and make me feel connected with the blacksmiths all over North America.  So your (our!) organization probably means much different things and provides a much different service to me than to, say, someone who does it for a living.  Congratulations on performing such a good balancing act as to provide something for everyone.

For new members the basic's.  It is no presence in ABANA or very little. Maybe ABANA need to have Blacksmith collage? Something in the line like John C. Campbell Folk School, Only Blacksmith related...

The website should be more user friendly, i.e. you should be able to advertise most anything such as real estate. BABA'S site is a good example. ABANA'S is too rigid in its format.

Nothing to add at this time.  Keep up the good work.

Provide a list of members in areas lacking a blacksmithing group so they can contact each other and set up a group. Similarly provide subscribers contact info to any local group so they can contact local subscribers and let them know of upcoming events.    In other words provide practical help for setting up and fostering blacksmithing groups. I will advise of my new contact info later this week

As a new member I do not know enough yet to judge if my needs can be approved upon.

I believe that the conferences are very important, though I've only been able to attend three of them.  If the cost (including travel) is less than $2,000 for two people, I will attend but if it's going to cost more, then there's no way to justify going.

More outreach or support of local galleries, shows and demonstrations that will introduce the craft to outsiders, or school programs for career days for budding artist/craftspeople.  I know ABANA as a national organization can't necessarily sponsor such things themselves, but help in organizing, putting together lesson plans or school programs or advice on using demonstrations and shows to promote the craft to collectors might be useful.  Also more articles on the business side, such as how to promote an art related business or how to price your work, get free PR in the local news media, etc.  We have a visually exciting craft; there should be more ways to promote it like a build-off contest for high schoolers to create a piece of public art for their town or school.  I think we need to pull in more young people to the craft, show them that a living can be made doing this and that our work is exciting to collect and adds to the beauty of a home or public space.

I am a down and dirty blacksmith who learned the trade in an industrial situation. I like sculpture and other artistic aspects of iron work. I have my own workshop, but I am not interested in the   business of blacksmithing. I usually give away the stuff I make. Any advice on skill or technique is of great interest to me. Congratulations to Kim on her ascent to the board, she is the best.

I really think that the option of doing the conference in Québec for the 400 year of foundation was very interesting. And we had the support of the Canadian government whit the site. It was at the oldest foundry of north America "LES FORGES DU ST MAURICE" in Trois Rivières Between Montréal and Québec. It is never too late.

I have not been an active smith for very long so my concerns are from that perspective.  Many people get started smithing and decide to try to make a bit of money from the craft yet there is precious little information available from ABANA or affiliates concerning the business side.  Proper legal structure options, asset protection concerns, insurance - health and liability, record keeping, accounting even health issues.  Many craft people are not so business savvy and it is this important area that will make or break one's attempt, not work quality.

Make the conference shorter, with fewer simultaneous demonstrations and the accommodation and meals will become affordable - like CanIron 2007.  The meals provided at Seattle were wonderful, but was a continuous bus shuttle really necessary?  My qualifications are from the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths in the UK.I would be happy to exchange forges with another journeyman who would be able to work with my husband for a short period.

I don't think there is much more ABANA can do to better serve my needs, but I am still willing to help ABANA in any capacity.

I feel that ABANA needs to decide if it wants to be for beginners or more-advanced smiths; currently it is doing neither one very well since it is trying to do both. I personally feel that it should be a professional association (lighter version of NOMMA); I felt this way even when I was only smithing for a few years.  This is currently an unfulfilled niche since NOMMA is more fabricator and architecturally oriented.  The local affiliates do a great job educating beginners and most blacksmithing books are geared towards them too. I feel even the Hammer's Blow (which I know was intended to be for beginners) is too basic... there is plenty of information on how to do a taper, forge weld etc. elsewhere.    Please feel free to contact me if you would appreciate any help on transforming the organization which has been an inspiration for me.

Do more to help the affiliates at the grass roots level where the hammer hits the anvil.

My opinion is that ABANA has become an organization almost exclusively concerned with the artist or architectural producer with access to power hammers.    When I first started, there was greater emphasis on the use of hand tools, coal welds, tool making and only a small portion devoted to the more elite equipment.

I like the Anvil's Ring for inspiration, but the work is so good, it can be intimidating to us beginners.  Hammer's Blow is more instructional, I need more of that right now (and more time to spend in the smithy!).

Nice to see beautifully constructed items, but would be nice to see some of the technology involved in their development (tooling, etc. and their usage), because bad habits are hard to break sometime. Gives new blacksmiths a better shot at getting it a little closer to correct the 1st. time, there by creating more interest and pride in the art.

I would like to suggest that conferences be held annually but on a regional scale perhaps with more weight on the local chapters. I have attended SOFA, IVBA, and BAM. SOFA'S cost to attend has started to get high but has always been good learning experience. I think ABANA tried to become a bit too high brow and cover too much social and international content perhaps more then we can afford. camping is a big plus for us with fixed income, the cost of long distance travel and hotel/dorms prevents us from doing some of the ABANA conferences

Look forward to receiving the 2 publications "Anvil's Ring" & "Hammer's Blow"

I go to Bill Epp's site to try practice projects to improve my skill.  I have expanded several simple projects into popular projects, like making a duck's head into a charging goose hat rack.  Fun projects that are reasonably basic and produce a "show off" piece would probably go over well for us beginners.

I'm glad that ABANA exists, keep up the good work

I was excited about Seattle, but didn't go because of costs.  Why can CBA put on a 4 day conference for under $200 including all meals, but ABANA can't?  If you can't do it, throw your support to local groups doing great events-- help them promote it and sponsor extra demos/events; move the sponsorship around to an event or two a year, to encourage us all to attend and visit our colleagues in other parts of North America!  The two mags are great, and the extra mailings I get from folks with stuff to sell is a bonus.  My problem in convincing my students to join is that they don't perceive that much more value over just being a CBA member.  There must be ways to improve this-- encouraging reciprocal rights to members of ABANA and one local affiliate or something...  Ultimately, access to education is key to everything.

more tooling, machinery, forge and project plans

The only thing I can think of right now is try to expand The Hammer's Blow or have more traditional work in The Anvil's Ring since so much of the Ring seems to be art/sculpture

The most useful things to me are the two publications.  Anvil's ring is a good source of ideas and inspiration to do better work.  The HB has been a good learning tool.  The one conference I have attended, Flagstaff 2000, was good, but I find the travel, expense, and time to attend are too much for me personally.  I might find more emphasis on the publications would be beneficial to all members whether they were able to attend conferences or not.

Frankly, I am not totally certain just exactly what is going on with ABANA. I see the elliptical references to what appears to be a major food fight at the board level, and I see the struggle to recover. Focus hard on providing support, learning opportunities to advance skill levels and community to the blacksmiths in the US and elsewhere - the survey is a great start - and I will support you.

With the threat to our environment posed by greenhouse gases, I wonder if ABANA is not the vehicle to investigate, at least intellectually in the short term, the possibility of blacksmithing going "green."  The use of coal is recognized as a major source of industrial pollution.  Individually, a single blacksmith using a coal fired forge would not be considered a major contributor to the problem.  Collectively, however, all the blacksmiths associated with ABANA using coal would in all likelihood have a significant negative impact on our environment.  Because of its respected position in the blacksmithing community across the world, ABANA is the obvious organization to determine blacksmithing's impact on the environment and to take the initiative in finding ways to help blacksmithing go "green."

For many years, there has been a tension between the needs of the professional and hobby/novice smith. The needs of the hobbyists have won out, for the very fair reason that they were the ones with the time to devote to the organization, and they are the majority of the membership.    But over the last several years, with the growth of the chapters and affiliates, the hobbyist’s needs are met better and more cheaply by their local groups, and there's less and less need for them to join ABANA.    I for one would be glad to pay more money for a professional organization that offered professional level information, communication, outreach, marketing, projects.    One interesting approach is one that has worked well for the Timber Framers Guild. They have organized large, interesting, public projects. The guild was paid to build the project, which was run as an educational opportunity. The master craftsmen were paid to guide the students through the building of the project.     Result: the client has a beautiful piece of work, the public sees and uses it, the craft is promoted in a very effective, public way, the organization makes money, the professionals are reasonably paid, and the novices get terrific hands on experience.

I hope ABANA continues to grow.      I feel the Anvil's Ring needs to continue showcasing high quality work, as I feel that is its purpose, to inspire and demonstrate the endless wonders of forging metal.  It is the blacksmithing community’s main glossy colored publication after all.    I also feel the conference shouldn't be held so close to the Fourth of July.  Many people have family vacations around the holiday and may be prevented from attending for this reason.    Thanks and keep up the hard work.

I am an intern architect and associate member of the American Institute of Architects...it would be great for my non-metalworking colleagues to learn more about the possibilities of using handmade architectural iron work in their projects. Other than that, keep up the great work!

I know the people that are running ABANA are type A people you want to run everything for all of the members. The members need to be able to interact with ABANA. The members make up ABANA not a select few. The way you are running ABANA is just like a non-profit. Get member in and their money, and then don’t care about what they want, then run them out the back door because new members are coming in the front door. Run ABANA like a business not like a nonprofit. Yearly shows need to be affordable to everyone that comes. Don’t exclude the public from coming.

I haven’t been involved long enough to have an opinion. But I personally would like to see more entry level information. It’s very difficult, without a background in or knowing people who are skilled in the art of blacksmithing, for a person trying to learn to get good information.

I have been pleased with ABANA over the years. I think somebody has forgotten that with increased membership the cost of membership could be brought down. Find what is best for the majority and include stuff for the other membership. I was pleased when the Hammers Blow was developed, because it provided more hands-on information for the learning individuals. Moreover, it was a response to members needs. I'm not sure how important it is for there to be hats etc., but obviously for some it is important. As a Canadian smith (amateur) it has been hard to maintain the membership through the years when our respective dollars have varied so much in value. It would be most helpful if ABANA could develop a means (I suppose MasterCard fills this) to accept Canadian fund cheques for fees. I recently recommended to the president that Canadians be given membership at the current price for three years; in this way you might develop a nest egg while our dollar is close to yours in value, and word of mouth might increase the membership. At one time ours was only worth 62 cents of yours. It might be nice if it were recognized that many members from Canada have been there through thick and thin, and that we are very much a part of ABANA. Do not fall for the idea that it saves anybody anything if they get their Anvil's Ring electronically. They will be downloading at their own cost for a reproduction not as good as can be produced by quality printing on quality paper. If the conferences can not be revitalized then the publications will be among few reasons to be a member. They need to continue to be good in content and quality.

I feel fortunate that such an organization as ABANA exists. That is not to say that, there is no need for improvement. I am new to this organization and am unfamiliar with how it has functioned over the years, and so I am unsure of what to expect from it. At least, in terms of what older members may have come to expect. Personally, I think that the cost of membership is money well spent for the two publications alone. Not to mention, the scholarships that the memberships help support. I am less concerned with the conferences than it sounds as though some are. Of course, I have not had the privilege of attending one. They sound like great opportunities to gain helpful knowledge and support, but should not be the basis or focus of any organization such as this. I think the conferences should continue, but if they must at a less consistent rate then; so be it.

Introducing more people to art blacksmithing, perhaps outreach demonstrations at schools or such.

As a mainly volunteer organization I think you all do very well, I am grateful for every body's work.

My biggest problem with blacksmithing is too little time to spend on this hobby.  There is nothing ABANA can do about that.  Thanks.

I am a novice, looking for any opportunity to learn the craft.

Find ways to bolster your state affiliates...not that you are not already doing a lot.

I do want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our thoughts and ideas on this survey.  "Communication is the key" in any family and to me blacksmiths are all one big family no matter what direction we practice our art.  In order to be successful in your business you need to be able to "stop and listen" to your customers and supporters to provide the best material and information for their wants and needs.

I proposed an idea about a web site that I believe would be an excellent learning tool and a good way to acquire more members.   The web site would map publicly accessible forged works and visitors to the site could find works to go see when they travel.    These works could be linked to the creator's web site or an informational link.    Work would be added to the site by local forges, who would document the work and upload it to the web master.   Individuals could also download appropriate locations.   There would have to be some quality control at some point to make sure that the work is actually forged and accessible.

More Professional Development.


Take a look at the CBA spring conferences.  They are low cost and provide excellent learning opportunities - might be some good information here on how to structure a conference.  Maybe ABANA could hook up with some of the affiliate conferences and do joint venture conferences on a regional basis.

I have really put some thought into what I get out of being a member of ABANA. The only thing I can think of is that I receive the two publications. I have wanted to attend a conference, but they are quite expensive, and I feel I can get just as much from the local forge conferences that I can drive to. I live in the south east.   I do think holding the conference every two years is better than every year. I wish the organization much success as you try to forge into the future.

Fully described [visual] forming procedures, tooling techniques, surface treatments patina/finishes


Thank you

Please be guided by the mission statement of ABANA, everyone on the board should be "touching the cloth" at the end of meetings, differences should stay in the board room.  ABANA mission statement should be highlighted on all correspondence and literature, and decisions should be made according to mission statement instead of personal preferences.

I've written a lot already. I do repousse and small forging work for my main income, so I feel that $300-$500 for a conference is a good investment for me. If I had another blue collar job I probably wouldn't pay that much just to further my hobby, I'd go to more local events.  I realize that $300-$500 can get me a class with a great smith in exactly the area of interest that I'd like to focus on, but the conference is inspiring because it opens me up to aspects of the craft that I wouldn't see elsewhere. If we don't have the big conferences I'll really miss them. (I've only attended 2004 and 2006, but I planned for them 2 years in advance.)   Also, I haven't touched on the website. Last time I was there I was trying to find out the name of the gentleman swordsmith from Japan at the 2006 conference. Couldn't find any decent content from the Seattle conference. It seems like the Jewel in the crown of ABANA; the conference should be promoted like crazy to show people how great they are, and what value you get for your money. I'd be glad to donate some pictures for pages about the Conference...

I have read all of the beginning issues of the Anvils Ring. It sounds like we are having some issues internally. Let’s have adults deal with the reality of the world!

People are very fortunate to have an organization like ABANA. It is hard to find the range of viewpoints and skills represented in its publications. It’s good to see beginning and advanced work together. ABANA should have its own goals and direction decided on by the board. That’s why there are affiliates, so if there is a need for a different direction for a smaller group of interests, they can find each other and make something happen. It seems ABANA does a good job of providing a framework for all of these connections to be made. As soon as ABANA tries to be too many things to too many people, people will reject it because there is not a clear message being sent, even though the intent is to provide more services to its members. That’s my humble opinion; I think ABANA is doing a good job.

ABANA is a great organization but it seems to need some support in operational "behind the scenes" stuff.  I would be happy to volunteer for such.  However, please note that I tried in the past to do so.  While at the 2004 KY conference I volunteered to an individual from the ABANA org.  I offered to help in any operational area where my skills could be utilized.  It was clear at the time that we were having difficulty managing merchandise.  And, we paid an outside organization a lot of money to manage it (including a lot of obsolete stuff).  I offered to organize/track/manage inventory.  Even offered to potentially keep it at my house (once it’s paired down to something manageable).  I was essentially "dissed" right there at the opening cocktail party.  Pretty much soured my attitude.  Now that there have been some organizational changes, I am more than happy to volunteer again.   Maybe ABANA could reach out to members with specific skill requests (both one time mini-projects and on-going maintenance work).  I bet you would get a lot more volunteers if people can see direct results for their volunteer efforts.

As a new FULL-TIME artist-blacksmith my interests are of course much different now then when I first started as a hobbyist...so that would include things like help to find business insurance from companies that understand what we do(and also deal with us frozen Canucks).  Generally, professional development support and insight.  And of course all the things that already exist are fantastic!  I believe it is OK to find a balance of providing beginner info and awesome work for both pros and beginners to aspire to.  What ever the field...very few are willing to master the basics and stop there.  We must have the desire and passion to know more and achieve even better.  This however, should not be confused with the grass roots approach to conferences. Thank you for so much to aspire to.

This year (2007) is unfortunately my last year as a member.  The left leaning politics (pro Al Gore and global warming) and internal fighting have completely turned me off.  The organization should refocus back to blacksmithing.  There is absolutely no need for ABANA to try and micromanage local chapters.  It hurts me to see an organization that I have tried to support tear itself apart because some members want all the "power."  Power over what?  5,000 blacksmiths?

I feel that the ABANA is too focused on the leafy art side of the craft.  The standard of workmanship at times is quite poor and focus should be given to raising skill levels.  Sometimes I feel that the objects of art presented are akin to a school show and tell.  Artists turning to the metal seem enamored with their offerings which sometimes are no more than bashed about steel with "texture".  Are we really going to stand by and see the craft being turned over to silly badly made and quite high priced ornaments?  It is very distressing to me.  Let us not go down the road of self glorification inside a mutual admiration society.  I would like to see work reviving peer review and constructive criticism.

more information on what the back yard smiths are doing and what new things are being done  After a lot of talk about a diesel fired forge I thought it might work and after 3 or 4 that did not work as I wanted  I put one together that suits me well is cheap to operate and is fast to heat up and easy to control this is the type of things I would like to see in the Anvils Ring along with the other things it would show that high end work is just part of the whole as is what I am doing is another part of the whole     Thank you

I think ABANA is a fine organization. It is difficult for an organization to meet everyone’s needs as they see it. I feel ABANA does a good job of having something for everyone in the blacksmithing /metalworking trades. Though I consider myself a traditionalist, I do enjoy seeing and hearing about other metal working people and their methods.

It would be nice to have additional content for members only on the website.  As it stands now my membership is mostly a subscription to two magazines.  Some membership exclusive website content would be good and may attract some memberships.    I joined as a newbie to learn and it is serving me ok but for web content I mostly go to anvilfire.com.  I am also very disappointed there will not be a 2008 conference.    Bring in and solidify the ties with outlying regional and local chapters and clubs.  It would be nice to pay once a year to one place for membership to the national and local association and feel like they work together.

The main reason I have renewed my membership is to receive the Hammers Blow because I find the series on Controlled Hand Forging priceless. I do wish, however that the articles were in a sequence skill development: starting with most basic skills needed, then progressing and building on previously learned skills. Or at least have a syllabus stating an order for the articles already written, and perhaps those to come.  I do not view myself as an "artist", but more a Craftsman in the style of William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement in the early 1900's. And a craftsman not just in the style, but the philosophy of the movement: that functional items can and should be beautiful. They believed that what is made by the hand has great value.


I don't know the answers.  Hopefully you can find some with this survey.

Keep up the good work!

I’m sure all Australian participants at the last conference would like to see the continuation of future events regardless of the costs involved. It was my intention to attend all conferences until I dropped dead.

It is difficult to make a machine of this size suitable to all. It is always good to see something someone else has done, as this is the mind opener. If there is not perfection to strive for, there is no carrot on the end of the stick. The education/stories/how-to's/etc. in the Hammers Blow is a must. Without the availability of how to do something, there is no hope to finally reach the carrot.    Damn stick, if it wasn't in the way, I would have that carrot!! Who needs carrots anyway; they probably get stuck in your teeth!! What’s up Doc!!    I think the main job of ABANA is to make information available, from all affiliates & members, to all affiliates & members. None of us are using our gray matter to its full potential, if one person can get a snippet of information that will help them solve a problem or answer a question, then progress is being made.   I don't think it is in everyone’s best interest, to make each Conference better/bigger than the previous. Concentrate on the focus of the Conference, each Conference is good in their own way. What people remember about a Conference is who they met and what new thoughts they learned, neither of these are a condition that is likely possible to control ahead of time.    Thanks for the memories!!     Abraham Lincoln said "You can please some of the people all the time and all the people some of the time, BUT, you can't please all the people all the time” Maybe he knew something??

Continue to explore the blacksmithing legacy.  I wouldn't mind seeing more historical segments about smiths who have paved the road for us to have the organization that we have today.  It seems as though there are blacksmithing schools popping up all around the country, should ABANA consider founding such an outreach, or at least an affiliation with an existing school?  Maybe that would be a way to further the journeyman and scholarship/grant programs as well as be a centralizing force in this craft.

New Blood, New Ideas, Board members with business skills, List of qualifications for Board Members. Become allies with NOMMA, BABA, John Deere, Sculpture Groups, Cast Iron Groups, ABA, etc. Reach out to blacksmith groups in Spain, France, Italy, Israel, South Africa and anywhere else in the world that they may exist. Achieve Legal Closure with the University of Washington and publish the results.

The best thing ABANA can do is concentrate on the craft of blacksmithing and avoid getting bogged down in a lot of other stuff.  There is a lot of information that is or would be useful to beginners and more accomplished blacksmiths that is never covered.  Forming is only part of the process.  Engineering, designing and finishing are also important elements of all metal work that are seldom covered in conferences or in the publications.

It should be about blacksmithing in general. Anyone that has the desire to be a superstar normally has the talent and doesn't need the backing of ABANA to succeed. One Anvil's Ring a year could showcase them and have more Hammer's Blow magazines with instructions, plans and things to do. I need all the help I can get to be better. Even if you put some more advanced classes in, it will still allow everyone to profit from the training.

Being tucked away down under, the one frustration we often face is the difficulty in locating specialty suppliers of things such as good quality deep drawn leaves etc. Hence lists or links to suppliers of all products associated with the production of wrought iron would be great.

I know working within a nonprofit is time consuming and many times taken for granted. I have been a member for many years. I don't make my living as a blacksmith, so am not really in the "loop". However I have always been impressed with the quality way ABANA has been run! I have only been to three conferences. That would be Flagstaff, La Cross and Seattle.  The first two were excellent. The Seattle conference seemed a little "off". I think it was because it was so spread out. I don't like to criticize because it takes a lot of volunteer hours to make it happen. I happen to think it is more important to appreciate people’s time and effort than to pick something apart. There were plenty of good, positive happenings going on. Thanks for all ABANA does

Think in terms of regional conferences. The big national affairs only serve the local affiliates and the very wealthy.  After the failure to launch on the NY conference we lost a lot of support. The painfully yuppified Seattle deal aside from being a cash looser was also not that well received.     I would rethink the concept. Who are you serving and where are they located? What do we want to get out of the gathering? These events are not set ups at country fairs. It is supposed to be an exchange of ideas, a review of organizational direction and a sharing regional flare.      Good luck.

I would appreciate any articles dealing with price structure/cost analysis/bidding (or quoting) architectural work; especially as such apply to work featured in both magazines.  Though pricing/costs may vary considerably from region to region, still, to have a brave soul tell how he or she priced a featured work (including the price!) would be magical.

Again, I am new, but, I am really getting allot of help from the internet metal chat forums. Quick answers, my help offered for some, tool supplies and able to ask about there experience with these tools. Techniques with metals and so on. I'm sure it is a tremendous amount of work to start one, and I surely do not have any skills to help with one, but it is nice being able to visit these sites.

An historical section, showcasing old work, middle age, dark age, Iron to bronze age.  Don't leave all blade work, Damascus, mokome gane, etc, to the ABS.  You should be promoting blade-work, (swords, knives, and cutlery, utility) and an Apprentice-Journeyman-Master program of your own, Judged by experts in the field.  You should have an Arms and Armour section that promotes the armorers, Reenactors, (Bronze age, and Iron age, all the way to WWII).  I would interest and draw in a huge disenfranchised demographic of the metal working world.  You could build a bridge to all metal works.  Why let your members be pigeon holed to only one group with only one outlet and venue?  Why the schism?  Why the one-upmanship?  Swallow your pride and be the bridge.

I had a great time at the Seattle conf. but I thought there was too much going on at once, not enough repetition, to see what I wanted to see. Also, I had a hard time knowing what was going on when and where. Frustrating. Might fewer demonstrators make that easier AND cheaper?

I would like to see more learning opportunities for less experienced blacksmiths. I would like to see more group projects at the affiliate level. Some sort of mentoring system would be welcome.

ABANA needs to hire professional management for the organization and the conferences.    ABANA also needs to completely re-evaluate the magazine to make it dynamic and inspiring.  Look at how Lapidary Artist has changed.  Look at Craft 'zine or Make 'zine.  Look at popular yet specialized craft magazines.

A blacksmithing organization should be about excellence (I'm sure Francis Whitaker would approve).  I live among many other talented smiths (in the Seattle area).  It is all about encouraging one another and if there is any amount of competition, it is only to drive our skills and the craft forward.      I have always enjoyed the international perspective, by the way.  At the Wisconsin (LaCross) conference, talking with the Japanese and German smiths was a big influence.

Any and all assist to those of us who are just getting started is perhaps the wisest investment for the future; however, there should always be a balance of interests between the novice and the grand masters of this craft.  Let's not allow it to fade again.

Some type of online tutorials for basic and intermediate skill and metallurgy knowledge would be great for me because I seldom have the time to even consider being able to go to any learning courses given due to my remote location. Thank you

Seattle was my first conference, and I loved it. The main thing I would change would be to MAKE all the demonstrators use the mike and sound system that was available.

I have been a farrier and a member of the almost completely defunct American Farriers Assoc. for fifteen years and have always appreciated how well ABANA runs and how excellent its publications are. Because of ABANAs foundation in teaching and its apparent lack of appeal to big commercial vendors and sponsors, it is still member run and is always working to keep its integrity. I am pleased and proud to be a member.

I would like to learn more need affordable lessons. Live in Idaho USA

More advance notice for shows, gallery announcements and maybe even a circular similar to the guild catalogue- but only representing art-metalsmiths; that using our combined mailing lists could go out to architects and design professionals. just a thought

Profiles of other blacksmiths, photos of their shops and their work and tooling.

anything that would help to market our work, how to price how to market how to get decent ins. at affordable rates, maybe joining with other trades to buy ins.

Question # 34 was a bit unclear. How many days is the conference, room, food, and conference??? I think I went a bit low.     Anyway I am happy with what ABNA does. But what I appreciate most is the fact that there is a proper glossy magazine out there that shows off what we do. If I want anything more from ABANA, It would be to get Anvil's Ring into places like Barnes and Nobles, Borders, etc. Hell, how about two glossy magazines: One for fabricated/ forged sculpture, and another for architectural/ traditional work

There are still a bunch of us out here supporting ABANA no matter how much negativity ya'll hear.

I think ABANA is great.  The whingers should appreciate what they have got on their doorsteps.  What about a conference in Australia!!!!

ABANA is too focused on artistic work and custom designs.  It does not relate to the beginning / intermediate / hobbyist blacksmith.

ABANA needs to communicate with the membership.  WEBSITE should be up to date.

Conference costs/expenses depend on the take-home value

Change is good and may be needed but it should be bridled and controlled and not gone about half coked just for the sake of change.

Online webinares or videos  ,a better way to rent videos from library, access to educational videos from website

No need to get in contact with me. I just think anonymous surveys are less effective...

more support for  beginners

I would like some articles on choosing tool steels and heat treating

A conference should give you options to camp or stay at hotels, and food options too.  When at all possible ABANA should not get involved with directly handling the fees for room and board.  ABANA should let the members pick and choose and contact the venue directly for the accommodations.  I have been involved in running the New York State Technology Education Association’s annual conference (usually 2 days) for a number of years.   We found out that when the association got involved with the room and board i.e.: guaranteeing numbers of rooms and meals, that's when profits and potential loss to the association occurred.  We held our conference at the Sagamore Resort on Lake George for a number of years (a 5 star hotel).  The Sagamore had a room and board rate that we negotiated and then they handled all the reservations and food needed.  We charged admission to the conference and also had a rebate built into the hotel's room rate.  Whoever chose not to stay there or eat there was still welcome to buy meals individually.  These conferences proved most profitable because there were few cost surprises.  They also were successful because most all of the energy was focused on the subject of the conference.  Hope this helps.  Choosing a venue for ABANA conferences could be more challenging, but I'm sure that there are conference centers that can accommodate the needs. We found that holding a conference at the end of an "off season" (still off season pricing) gave us good rates.

I am more of an "armchair blacksmith" than a frequent hands-on practitioner.  However, I have a backyard shop with 2 four burner gas forges, 2 anvils, several vises, treadle hammer, and a Spencer tire hammer.  I also have an engine driven stick welder and an inverter stick welder.  I have several Oxy torch setups.  I have a #5 flypress.  I have never made a knife.    I take few formal classes.  My main way of learning is voracious reading and observing (studying) demonstrations at various conferences.  For example, Clifton Ralph was at Tipton this year. - I sat on the front row every minute he was demonstrating, plus had 2 breakfasts with him.   He also had Steve & Kurt with him.  These fellows are experts in their own right!     Thus, my cost/benefit analysis is directly influenced by (1) quality of demonstrator (Maybe Al Hagerman would be good), (2) length of demonstration (1 hr vs. 2 days), (3) ease & smoothness of navigating the site, incl. on-site camping in my truck or rent-a-car, and (4)cost, in that order.  For me, once I decide to get on a plane and rent a car, the site can be anyplace in the world.  A big benefit to having a site to which I can drive my truck is that I can buy anything I want & get it home, I can sleep in the truck & thus save money & I can enjoy campfire type fellowship.      I live in FL; it is inconvenient for me to drive more than approx 1500 mi one way.  This means I can drive to the MO conference in May pretty easily, but driving to Seattle is out of the question (would be too tiring, take too long).  For me, I do not figure the cost of diesel until a couple of days before the trip to make sure I have enough cash - that is, the cost of truck fuel is irrelevant to my fly/drive decision.  

I'm an Honorary Life Member, since 1975, so I don't pay dues. I'm a British citizen and don't live in North America, so I'm not a typical member. I haven't answered this questionnaire earlier because I thought my views would not be typical as a result of these circumstances, but you've nagged me into doing it. I really think that ABANA can do four or five or six things immediately that will make it more relevant and more healthy:
1. Makeover to 'Anvil's Ring'
a) Get advertisers to adapt ads to avoid images of cheap alternatives to real forged iron that imitate real forged iron - or drop such advertisers. For a magazine devoted to promoting forgework, taking money from people advertising blatant cheap substitutes for forgework is at best bizarre, at worst unethical to readers or advertisers. It certainly gives the wrong impression.
b) Get all advertisements to the back of the magazine. To open the first page and see garish colour ads for 'weldments' is not what I want or expect. The magazine looks a mess because of the number and style of the adverts.
c) The Association and its magazine should be run for blacksmiths, by blacksmiths. 'Artist Blacksmith' has largely been edited by working blacksmiths, like Terry Clark the present editor, and it is arguably a better magazine than 'Anvil's Ring' although with only perhaps one-fifth of the circulation. 'Anvil's Ring' appears to be run by professional journalists and it shows(reviews of books on blacksmithing by a review agency, for instance); editing by a volunteer who doubles as a working blacksmith is very hard work, but it's possible, as we've shown with 'AB'.
An option to liven up the magazine, which we've also adopted, is the invitation of Guest Editors for specific editions - nearly all issues of 'Artist Blacksmith' are now guest-edited to a greater or lesser extent, with very lively results.
d) Publish the magazine on the premise that all readers are either professional blacksmiths or aspire to becoming professional blacksmiths, with of course contributions of words and inages from competent amateur smiths. Novices will be stimulated to understand techniques and even commercial and professional matters to do with earning a living as a smith, if they are not talked down to (it isn't rocket science, after all), whereas the growing number of professional smiths will certainly not want to go on reading a magazine that never reaches beyond the elementary and trivial.
e) Embrace and encourage discussion and even controversy in the correespondence pages and in commissioned articles and essays about important topics: I speak as one who had my letter to'Anvil's Ring', about about a major controversy over Artistic freedom vs. rational censorship, censored, along with letters from 25 other people, by the Chair of the ABANA Publications Committee, because "The magazine should only be concerned with positive things not negative ones". This is the way to kill a magazine. The fresh air of free discussion and dissent is essential Oxygen to an organisation like BABA or ABANA.
2. Information If I may say so, ABANA has for far too long had a policy of sweeping unpleasant or inconvenient topics under the carpet, and keeping its membership in the dark about them. While genuinely sensitive issues demanding confidentiality must occasionally arise, a democratic organisation owes its membership completely open information.
3. Conferences and national/major regional events: If you hold these, set up separate limited liability corporations to run them, with the organisers of the events and possibly representatives of any major sponsors as corporate directors. This way you insulate the main ABANA from major fiscal loss caused by mishap or plain incompetence (or dishonesty??) by the local organisers, and by the same token their minds are powerfully concentrated on avoiding loss, as it will largely be their own responsibility. (I speak as a co-director of 'First International Festival of Iron Ltd' which organised the Cardiff conference in 1989, and which lost GB£45,000 (US$ 90,000) through too much trust being placed in a 'professional' manager of huge plausibility and zero financial sense. BABA was never in any danger; I and my co-director dug ourselves out of the hole with help from our friends, but it took 2 years - it's still a good idea, and all BABA events are now set up this way - no disasters since Cardiff - we learned our lesson. And BABA is still never in any danger. I believe that ABANA has been at least 'twice bitten' in this regard.
4. Leading on from this, appoint the most financially cautious and savvy person you can find as Association Treasurer, and when you've found a good one, keep them on the Board at all costs. Scots are good!
5. Put not your trust in lawyers.
6. Make the membership list, with contact details, available to all members, so that they can get in touch easily with each other. If I want to contact old blacksmithing friends in the US or Canada now Ive had to ask LeeAnn at the ABANA office or Wally at the Metal Museum to let me have their e-mail addresses (alas, neither will be able to do so easily any more) I appreciate you may need to get data protection permission from members to reveal their details, but BABA have for many years published a printed membership list - and we also use the list as a database so we can send enquirers the names of all our self-selected 'professional' members within a certain radius of where they are - with the proviso that membership of BABA doesn't give any guarantee of competence or probity. this works very well.

I think that ABANA is a worthwhile organization and I think it does a reasonably good job of providing the stated main service to its members - promoting the craft of blacksmithing.  I enjoy both magazines. The Hammer's Blow seems to fit my personal needs better than the Anvil's Ring, but both are good publications and I read them both from cover to cover.    I think that ABANA should "fix" the conference "problems" so that we can continue with a quality (not necessarily extravagant) conference on a regular basis.  I'm not sure what the problems are (money? labor? both?) but I think that a regular conference sort of validates our existence as a national smithing organization.  I am disappointed that we weren't able to have a 2008 conference, but I think I understand why it was cancelled.    I do wish that the website was updated on a regular basis. I would go to it more often if I thought that I'd see something fresh. I know that site maintenance can be pretty labor intensive, but it is literally ABANA's window to the world, so to speak. Quarterly publication of our two magazines doesn’t provide for dissemination of information to the membership in as timely a manner as the website can. If the website is allowed to become/remain stale, folks don't come to it on a regular basis. Think of the site as being analogous to a water fountain: If it always works, people come regularly for a drink. If it works only intermittently, many people don't bother to stop to try it since chances are there's no water forthcoming.    Wow, I really didn't intend to get on a soapbox. ABANA is a good organization and I appreciate the Board's efforts.

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