In June 2011 I declared I wouldn’t be doing anymore demonstrations out side my shop. I just didn’t feel up to all the loading and unloading and other work associate with off-site forging. I parked the trailer in the wooded area north of the studio. It went unattended until I was persuaded to do another demonstration on a weekend of celebration in the Cottonwood Falls, Kansas area where our artist cooperative gallery is located. The River Suites event was to be on Friday night and the Symphony in the Flint Hills and the Folklife Festival on Saturday. The Prairie PastTimes artists decided to put on and open house with some demonstrators.
The first order of business was to get the demo trailer out to pavement so I could inspect it and put everything in order. Trees had grown up around the trailer and through the tongue so it required chainsaw work to free it. The tires had sunk into the soil but we were able to pull it out and roll it to the street east of my shop.
I pulled off he rotting tarp and found a wood rat had made a huge nest under the forge pan and has stashed a good supply of Kentucky Coffee Tree seeds in it’s pantry. Friends helped me pull everything out and sweep before treating the wood plank floor with water seal. The tires were in bad shape and the wiring to the tail lights didn’t work. Two new tires were mounted and the wiring was replaced.
I still knew I needed help on the day of the demonstration so I called on a friend, the amazing Scott Miller, who has helped me with so many things over recent years and along the way has become a very talented blacksmith although he has little time to devote to it. He agreed to help and on the big day did most of the forging work so I mostly just stool around and talked with visitors.
I wanted to work on “light-duty” items as it could have been a very hot day and we did’t have shade over the work area. Additionally, rain was forecast so we had to be prepared to do something indoors in that case. I decided we would work on forging various animal heads. I could show the steps with modeling clay while Scott did the forging. In case of rain I could do the same thing indoors and there would be no forging. Also, I packed some Show and Tell items.
After a week of dodging rain, organizing, repairing and packing, the demo day arrived. I was up at 0330 and it was raining heavily. Scott came at 0630 and the rain stopped. We did the final loading and drove to the gallery. It took about a hour to setup and we were ready to forge at 0900 as promised. Then we learned that the weather forecast had been so unfavorable that some of the Folklife Festival demonstrators had backed out so it had been cancelled. They were supposed to have a blacksmith working also.
During the morning hours there were fewer visitors than we had expected but the weather continued to improve. In the afternoon it was clear and there were lots of visitors strolling up and down the two-block long brick-paved Main Street. The symphony worked out well too.
Optimistically, that was actually my last demo, but, I suppose I should never say never.
One of our artist members, Eric Dyck, is a talented photographer among other things. He took a lot of photos during the activities and posted some of our blacksmithing on the web here. Scroll down to June 14th to see the images. https://www.facebook.com/PrairiePastTimes