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First-ever Blacksmithing Conference to take place in La Grange

Posted at 5:55 AM, Jan 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-27 11:09:27-05

LA GRANGE, TX — This Saturday, the first-ever Texas Blacksmithing Conference is happening. We caught up with the event organizers at Steephollow Forgeworks in Bryan.

"Either you can approach the anvil with humility or you'll be humbled by it," said Blacksmith Mark Ling.

A group of young blacksmiths is trading technology for a centuries-old trade.

"You see a lot of people focused on video games and electronics. It's nice to see people interested in something else," said Blacksmith Russell Feller.

"I think we've lost a lot of skills. I'm holding an iPhone but what did it take to make it? It's more than the components of the iPhone. It's the tools that made the tools. You can trace that back hundreds of years to the anvil. At some point the anvil shaped the tool that lead to modern technology," said Blacksmith Josh Rachita.

Alan Lee of Steephollow Forgeworks is encouraged by the renewed interest in the art.

"They are the groundswell of a young generation that has adopted blacksmithing as their laptop. These guys are on the cutting edge and they're getting a lot out of it," said Lee.

Josh works at the Sam Houston Memorial Museum and demonstrates historical ironwork.

"It's challenging because you're not doing something original. You're trying to reproduce a piece that a smith 300 years ago. You have to get out of your 21st-century mind to get back in their mind," said Josh.

Mark wants to use his tool-making abilities to reach countries like Haiti and spread his faith.

"It's really inspiring knowing that maybe I can have a similar impact even if it's in a smaller way," said Mark.

Russell is still in high school but says blacksmithing teaches him life lessons like patience and being prepared. Together they planned the first-ever Texas Blacksmithing Conference.

"This year there's been a lack of events for blacksmithing and so it's filling a hole," said Russell.

Demonstrators from as far as Canada will be in La Grange for the event. First-timers and professionals are all welcome to join a growing community and hopefully, others will spark an interest.

"It's taught me to have a little grit and keep working at something even when it's not going well," said Josh.

The event gets started Saturday, January 30th from 8 am until 5 pm. You can even participate in a hammer-making class on Friday. It will be held in La Grange.

Texas Blacksmithing Conference 2021

Check out the Texas Blacksmithing Facebook and Instagram pages for more information.

Tune in to "Texas Voices" Saturday at 6:30 pm to hear more stories from Artist Alan Lee.