The next generation of blacksmiths worked on their own projects during the Open Forge.

Hammers rang on anvils, and the air smelled of forging as the California Blacksmith Association held their Annual Spring Conference in Hollister, California. Billed this year as the Western States Conference instead of just California, blacksmiths came from all over the U.S. and beyond to share knowledge and techniques.

Daily hands-on workshops were led by ABANA‘s (The Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America) top instructors while workshops were held on topics such as power hammer repair and retrofitting, crafting flat jaw tongs, best forge practices, forge welding, and a myriad of techniques for becoming a more skillful blacksmith. After dinner each evening the workshop area, equipped with several forges, anvils, vices, and fuel, was available for Open Forge time which lasted until well after midnight.

A weekend-long contest had teams competing in three-hour blocks on the theme of “Plasticity.” The contest pieces were later auctioned off to support the event which brings in world-class blacksmith demonstrators from all over the world, as well as shipping in their equipment. The event was capped off Saturday evening by a banquet where the newest instructors, journeymen, and apprentices were honored along with the long-standing giants in the CBA community.