Oklahoma Affiliate of ABANA
♦ June 2013 Newsletter
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March 2010 marked the 15th anniversary of our Saltfork Craftsmen Artist-Blacksmith Association, Inc. There has been a lot of activity in these few short years. The club started with thirteen charter members meeting on March 20, 1995 at Jim Omey's ranch near Freedom, OK. Most of these folk's common interest was blacksmithing. After some discussion it was felt that there might not be enough people interested in only blacksmithing to have a viable club. We decided our club would be open to any craftsman regardless of their specific interest.
The Salt Fork of the Arkansas River runs through northwest Oklahoma and we were expecting the club only to be a local affair, hence the Saltfork Craftsmen name was adopted. By-laws were written, and five directors were elected. We were off and running. Little did we know how this was going to grow.
We organized our first Annual Blacksmithing Conference for October 1997. Frank Turley from Santa Fe, NM came to Guthrie. He worked very hard showing us a wide range of blacksmithing techniques and related information. Since that first conference we have had an October Conference every year.
Our whole membership has been very generous, through various fundraisers, to help us bring some of the very best, nationally recognized, blacksmithing and craft teachers to Oklahoma. Increased conference attendance and the generous support of the Oklahoma Arts Council (http://www.arts.ok.gov/) promises the continuation of high quality educational opportunities for our members and our region.
As time went by our club grew we had to make some changes to our structure. With increased membership over an expanding geographical area, and in anticipation of becoming an ABANA Affiliate, early in 1997 we incorporated our club. As this is being updated in late August 2010, our club membership continues to grow, as do the services and opportunities available to our members and the public. Our membership stands at over 300 dues paying members and we now have seven directors.
The club is very active and sets aside a different Saturday for up to four meetings per month in four different regions of the state. This is where we teach each other by sharing ideas and by observing the work of more accomplished smiths. Individual members make their shop, ranch, or yard available to the membership for a day of idea sharing and learning. These meetings are open to the public and are generally informal enough so that non-smiths have an opportunity to experience what they thought to be a so-called "lost art" on a personal basis. Activities are structured to interest the entire family, especially at our major events like our Annual Conference and our Annual Membership Picnic.
Our members support local communities by providing blacksmithing demonstrations at more than thirty outside events and celebrations every year. Many of these demonstrations are provided free to the sponsoring community organizations.
updated August 2010