Tidewater Blacksmith's Guild History
The Guild had it's beginnings in the fall of 1995. Mitch Linden, TBG's founding President, got a list of local blacksmith's from ABANA, and called around to see if anyone was interested in forming an ABANA chapter. The first meeting was held in November 1995 at the Career Development Center in Va. Bch., where Jon Cookson was an Instructor, and had volunteered the shop space.
The founding members present were: Mitch Linden, Tom Herendeen, Mike Keeney, John Richter, Dave Catoe, Randy Hodges, Dale Jones, Jay Keeney, Scott Bennett, and Tom Stone. In the beginning, meetings were held on a random basis at either Mitch Linden's, Mike Keeney's, or Dale Jones forge. After a year or so, Tim Edney joined the Guild and introduced us to Linda Chappell who graciously volunteered space at Taylor Farms.
Linda Chappell had big plans for Taylor Farms; she wanted to establish a craft center that catered to local artists such as wood turners and candle makers. Linda funded the start up of the Guild by purchasing the big 400# anvil, treadle hammer, welding tanks, fully stocked metal rack and the brick forge. The brick forge is patterned after the colonel style smithy at Williamsburg.
The early guild members worked hard at refurbishing the site by tearing down walls, laying concrete, building the iron rails and gate in the rear of the forge. Initially TBG performed demos at Taylor Farms for school kids and other special events.
Even though the relationship with Linda has been a good one all things must end. So as of June 2007 Linda Chappell decided that she wanted to make some improvements to the farm and asked if we could find another location. She told us that we had been good tenants but it was time for a change.
In January of 2008 the new president Tim Edney offered the Guild to use his facility to hold meetings and classes. The Board voted on the offer and agreed. In March the Tidewater Blacksmiths Guild started the process of setting up two coal forges with five anvils.
The guild hosts meetings on the third Sunday of every month. During these meetings the minutes are read and we discuss up coming demos, then we eat. Members bring in pot lock dishes along with an item that they had made or something for “Iron In The Hat”.
" Iron In The Hat" is a blacksmith tradition in which everyone donates something to the guild so it can be raffled off to raise money for the treasury. This is one of the primary sources of income for the Guild. Members will bring in hand made items or good junk that they had lying around the garage. After the raffle we have a demonstration.
Within the last few years TBG has instituted a training program aimed at educating beginners. The classes are broken up into four levels; beginners, novice, intermediate and advance. A TBG member starts off with the basics. They will learn what safety precautions are needed to be taken and how to use the blacksmiths tools correctly.. Today the Guild is 50 members strong and performs demonstrations throughout the Tidewater area.
This Biography was written by Joe Gentile