FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. — Are you interested in blacksmithing? If so, consider joining the Florida Artist Blacksmith Association (FABA). Its mission is to teach and preserve the noble art of blacksmithing.
Recently popularized by programs like “Forged in Fire” and “Men at Arms,” blacksmithing has experienced a renaissance. However, FABA has been teaching and setting up historical blacksmith shops throughout Florida for 35 years.
Part of the FABA educational program is to host monthly meetings at eight locations throughout the state. The local chapter known as “The Far West Panhandle Blacksmiths” is headquartered at Traditions Workshop in Fort Walton Beach and sponsors meetings throughout the panhandle.
“Your first meeting with FABA is always on us. After that, we encourage you to join this fine organization,” the FABA said in an announcement.
For a family to join, visit https://blacksmithing.org. The cost is $30 per family per year.
“An annual membership allows you and your clan to participate at any FABA event throughout the state (usually one every weekend). Plus, you get generous discounts at the annual convention as well as an e-copy of the monthly newsletter, The Clinker Breaker, featuring Florida blacksmithing news and events<” the FABA said.
The next Far West meeting is February 26, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at Traditions Workshop, 418 Green Acres Road in Fort Walton Beach. The meeting will focus on “sinking” a steel bowl and making a Viking-era dining pick (think of it as a one tine fork).
In the far west, we always have open forges following the demonstration so that you can try your hand at the project for the day. Lunch is provided, and donations are appreciated,” the FABA said.
On March 25, the FABA meeting will be held in Navarre, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at St. Michael’s Brewery, 2199 Highway 87, Navarre.
“We plan to make bottle openers and “might hamster swords.” During these projects, we are encouraging audience participation for a small fee, which is necessary to cover the cost of fuel and materials and to make a contribution to this educational non-profit. Food truck(s) will be available for meals.”
On April 22, the meeting is in Pace, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at John Butler’s farm, 4112 Bell Lane. The FABA said it is planning to conduct the meeting as a “make and take” class where participants will craft a Viking-era utility knife. The cost is $10, with lunch from Sonny’s BBQ included. The class size is limited to 12 people. There will also be one open forge for those not interested in the class. Proceeds from the class will go to support FABA.
The May 27 meeting is at Timber Creek Distillery in Crestview, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., 6451 Lake Ella Road (dirt road northeast of Crestview).
“The task is to make a “Florida Flora or Fauna” to add to our contribution to the FABA Con 2023 auction. This is a competitive build, and we don’t yet know how our Timber Creek hosts (and judges) Cam and Arron might weigh in, but you can count on great pizza from their stone oven and libations from the distillery (and maybe some axe throwing too),” said the FABA.
The June 24 meeting will see the Far West chapter return to Traditions Workshop from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“The demonstration project is still TBD, but you can count on something that will help build your skills toward the Journeyman blacksmithing standards,” the FABA said.
Other summer monthly meeting locations for July 22 and August 26 are still to be decided. Perhaps you have a suggestion? FABA is always looking for opportunities to put the noble craft of the blacksmith before the public eye.
The September 23 meeting will be back at Traditions Workshop to prep the trailer for the trip to the state-wide blacksmith conference in Gainesville on October 20-22. The forges are already reserved on that day for finalizing team contributions to the annual conference competition project “Florida Flora and Fauna,” the FABA said.
If you are interested in any of these events or need more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text David at 850-974-1548.
For any blacksmithing event, if you are under the tent, safety glasses and solid shoes or boots are required; also, long trousers and long sleeve shirts in cotton or other natural fabric are highly recommended.