The Rocky Mountain Smiths hold an annual conference in Carbondale each summer. I’ve attended a few times. In 2009 I registered and paid attention to email discussions about the conference preparations. A post went out asking if anyone could stop at the Denver airport and provide transportation to the conference for one of the demonstrators, L. Japheth Howard from Flicker Forge in Prairie Hill, Missouri. He was currently working in Canada and would be flying in from there.
I knew our usual route took us just a bit south of the airport so we checked on the timing and found it would work out. I had met Japh at Flicker Forge in January 2002 when he and his wife, Alice James, hosted a meeting for the Blacksmith’s Association of Missouri. The shop was impressive with a lot of equipment much larger than I had ever used. Both Japh and Alice demonstrated and it was a great meeting. Several inches of wet snow fell the night before so the landscape was beautiful. The meeting was well attended so I knew Japh would probably not recall seeing me there. We made the arrangement to meet him at the airport and drove for several more hours to Carbondale. We visited and he read some back issues of several blacksmithing publications which I had brought along. He explained the new job he had taken in Canada but was uncertain how long he would continue there.
The conference was very enjoyable. Japh demonstrated his skill making pieces which required very careful planning and meticulous execution. Jim Pepperl from Silver City, New Mexico also demonstrated. He made several pieces of very nice Southwestern style hardware. I was particularly fascinated by a cane bolt he made with a ball-spring detent.
One of the conference highlight is the Saturday night silent auction. I was happy to see that Jim had put in two of his cane bolts. The participants circulated around the tables penciling in their updated bids. As the closing time neared I noticed that it was mostly Japh and I who were contending for the cane bolts. When I fully realized that I stopped bidding as I felt he had a big role in making the conference a success and deserved to take home the souvenir. He won the auction and I remarked that I felt he had bought some really exceptional work and he agreed.
On Sunday we drove back to the airport and as we were unloading his luggage he gave me one of the cane bolts and thanked us for the ride. I was really pleased by his generosity and wished him a smooth and safe return flight. We drove on toward home stopping for an overnight rest as it started to get dark. The prospect of hitting a deer in the dark is not appealing at all to me so we have long made it a practice to avoid night driving when we can.
I met Japh briefly once more a few years later at a BAM conference. He had continued working at his forge in Canada. I recently found this reference to the project. You can find him under :: Curators.
|L. Japheth Howard at RMS Conference 8/09.|
|Jim Pepperl at RMS Conference 8/09.|
|Pepperl cane bolts and other hardware.|