December 2014 Northwest Chapter BOA Meeting

The Northwest Area BOA December meeting was hosted by Clyde and Connie Foster. Clyde provided some rather clever signage to guide members to his home, and had two forges ready for a great day of smithing. The day was beautiful, warm and sunny. This meeting was well attended, with a number of guests and potential new members watching the working blacksmiths. Connie and Clyde served up a delicious lunch of chili, hot dogs, and chips, with fragrant, from-scratch peach dumplings and Christmas sugar cookies for dessert. The Fosters’ beautifully decorated living/dining room was filled to the brim with hungry blacksmiths!

BOA members in attendance at this December 8 meeting included Dale Custer, Joe Doster, Harold Enlow, Clyde Foster, Sam Hibbs, Jerry Holmes, Drew Janes, Betty Jones, Bob Lock, Nathan Low, Steve Low, Heidi McLaughlin, Robert Meuser, Cheryl Miskell, Ed Osoris, Jimmy Owen, John Petersen, Luke Roberts, Richard Ross, Judi Sartwell, Sonny Sartwell, Hardy Todd, Ron Wells, and Ross Wilkinson. Guests included Brennan and Jacey High, a young couple who may join BOA; Craig Foster, Clyde and Connie’s son; Blake Holmes, Jerry Holmes grandson; Ira Collins, Clyde’s friend; and Albert Wilkinson, Walter Wilkinson and Daniel Wilkinson, Ross’ sons. This total of thirty-two attendees certainly supports our group’s primary functions: educating our members and exposing the public to the art of blacksmithing.

Dale Custer called the meeting to order after lunch, first thanking Clyde and Connie for hosting this meeting.

Old Business: Dale discussed the upcoming smelt at length. The Saturday after Christmas, participating members will “roast” the ore. Roasting the ore removes water, drives off volatiles like sulfur, and allows for smashing up the ore.

January 21-24 is when the smelt will occur, at the Eureka Springs School of the Arts (ESSA). Peggy Kjelgaard, Executive Director, is our contact there. Ms. Kjelgaard has agreed to allow people to “camp” on campus, and will provide sinks and toilets. Participating BOA members can have a bonfire (and can imbibe beer around said bonfire). Eight BOA members plan to be there for all four days, and five will be there for Saturday only. “Consolidating the bloom” on Saturday will require LARGE sledge hammers, and COORDINATED sledge hammer work.

Per Dale, we’re in good shape with the charcoal required for the smelt. Hardy and Clyde have provided the amount necessary. Participants in the smelt will have to make sure the charcoal is the correct size, to insure the iron stays solid, and the slag can be removed.

The smelt requires specific steps over the four days allotted: 1) build the platform, 2) prepare the clay, 3) fire the “bloomary furnace,” and 4) fire the inside of the furnace, cutting the tap arch and poking a hole for the “tuyere” (French for “iron pipe”). Our tuyere will be copper. It is twelve inches long and 3/8 inch thick, with an inside diameter of ¾ inch and an outside diameter of 1 and 3/4 inches.

Keith Heffelfinger has made two of the “pokers” necessary for the smelt. Hardy Todd is providing the fulcrum for the pokers. Herman Ginger is providing a blower. Steve Low is providing a charcoal bucket. Sam Hibbs has some wood and Ron Wells has agreed to get it to Eureka Springs. Sonny Sartwell suggests that participating members bring extra hand-held hatchets to split up the wood.

Joe Doster suggested that we archive this event. Jerry Holmes suggested using Fred McClure, a friend of his.

Dale asked when members had received their hard copy of the newsletter. Clyde, Hardy, and Ross received their hard copies yesterday, December 12.

Dale passed out the new business cards. Everyone received a bundle to pass out. Membership application information is on the back of each card.

BOA has the new sandwich signs. Steve Low picked up the signs. Each of the three chapters of BOA will have two signs. Herman Ginger will do the frames for the Central Chapter. We will have to find someone else to do the others.

Regarding the BOA trailer: Sonny and Judi Sartwell got new tires for the trailer, and kept the best old tire for a spare. The spare is inside the trailer. Sonny suggested adding a couple of more metal screws on the fender, to make sure it stays put. Tim Huddleston will come up with a design for the signage on the sides of the trailer. Per Sam Hibbs, this signage will be a vinyl “sticker,” produced with a process similar to a CDC. The process makes “BIG vinyl stickers,” 3’ X 3’ on the sides and 2’ X 2’ on the back. The signage can be white on black, or black on white.

Thanks to Jerry, there are at least fifteen new members since the last meeting. Ron contends at least sixteen. Dale welcomed the new members present, Heidi McLaughlin and Betty Jones.

New Business: A group around Ft. Smith wants to form a new chapter, called the “River Valley Chapter.” The BOA Board will have to vote on this issue.

UCA wants BOA to sponsor a blacksmith “intern.” The intern will have to participate in blacksmithing activities for six to nine hours a week, write two articles, and make a “capstone project” (something forged) and submit a draft grant proposal for a forge at the Faulkner County Museum in Conway. Robert Fox will be the intern’s mentor.

Ron Wells needs members to call or email him if they want coal. This is the only way you can insure that you will get coal at a meeting, because “first come, first serve” doesn’t help those who arrive after the last bag is sold.

Ron expressed deep gratitude for the money that was sent to him for his son, Jacob. Ron wrote a check for the Friends of the Library in Newton County to fund a “Dolly Parton Imagination Library” for the youngest readers in Newton County. This non-profit initiative sends one book per month to all children ages 1-5, so each child will receive sixty books through this amazing program. Ron shared that this is a program that Jacob funded generously. The program is close to Bertie’s heart, and they are honored to get to help the children of Newton County.

Speaking of children, Ron observed that BOA has a few new members that were not mentioned earlier. Justin and Ashlee Jones welcomed new member Elizabeth Jones, born on November 14, 2014. David and Traci Snyder welcomed new member Daniel Lee Snyder, born on December 11, 2014. Stosh and Sabrina Japczynk welcomed new member Townes, born five months ago. Sam and Laura Stephens’ son Leif was born six months ago. Congratulations, all, on the births of these new members! (I wonder if they make baby sledges…)

The January 3rd meeting of the River Valley Chapter will be in Jan and Jerry Holmes’ home at 1604 Daugherty Rd, in Van Buren.

The meeting was adjourned.

Cheryl Miskell, NWACBOA Secretary



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