Spring 2011 Conference at Tom Holcombe's Sore Elbow Forge, Bozeman, Montana.

Johnathan Nedbor, from High Falls, New York, demonstrating.

A full time blacksmith for nearly 40 years, Jonathan is a popular teacher and demonstrator, able to share his insights into the forging process. He specializes in historic forged ironwork focusing on the early hardware of New York's Hudson Valley. Much of his work is used on historic houses and museums, many of which are listed on the National Register. He also designs and produces contemporary ironwork of all types, including, furniture, railings and household ironwork. Jonathan's classes and demonstrations seek to communicate the beauty and simplicity of a pure forged approach to shaping iron. He covers tool making, forge welding, scrolls, approaches to authentic reproduction of historic hardware and much more.

Background: Began as a jeweler in 1971, was a shop assistant for jewelry and blacksmithing at Peters Valley Craft Center for 2 Summers, 1975 and 1976. Assisted in classes with Frank Turley, Francis Whitaker and others. I have attended almost every ABANA conference since the 1976 Carbondale IL event. Have been organizing the twice a year meetings of the Northeast Blacksmiths Assoc. since 1981 and have been VP and then President of the NBA since the late 1980ís. I have taught at many craft schools here on the East Coast as well as demonstrated for the New Jersey, Mid-Atlantic, New England, Upper Midwest Blacksmith Associations to name a few.

Jonathan Nedbor forging a pintle.






Hot cutting with an off-set butcher---which initiates a taper on the cut off piece, in this case the seminal pintle.


Rolling the eye for a hinge.


Frank testing a work in progress.

The finished Dutch-style hinge.


Method of gathering extra mass on the end of a bar. The next step is to forge-weld the coil into a homogeneous solid.


Bill Roesener discussing a fine point with demonstrator Johnathan Nedbor.



Marcus Engler striking for Jonathan.


Setting a forge-weld.


Securing the forge-weld.


Forging a finial.


Jonathan explaining.




Some of our members attending:


Frank Donohue sketching the demonstrations


Art Anderson explaining our forthcoming Fall Conference with the antique tractor association in Choteau, Montana


Joel Machler


Gem Blueher


Mr. B.


Past president, Ben Lund


Fund Raising Auction

A fly press kindly donated by Scott Esplin being auctioned by Bob.


Gallery of Members' Work

Coat Hook by Marcus Engler


Fire Poker by Scott Roberts



And, we even generated an article in the Bozeman Chronicle:

  Nick Wolcott, photo.

Forging a career

By Jodi Hausen,   The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

They came from across the region to learn from a master.

About two dozen people gathered in Bozeman Friday around an anvil and vise to watch veteran blacksmith Jonathan Nedbor forge an example of the kind of metalwork he creates in the Hudson Valley north of New York City.

Sparks flew as Nedbor pounded out a decorative, double coat hook. He narrated his process over the ring of his hammer and the whoosh of the fan above the coal-fueled fire pot.

The attendees are all members of the Northern Rocky Blacksmith Association - a chapter of the Artist Blacksmith's Association of North America. Many are trying to forge full-time careers from blacksmithing while others do it part-time or as a hobby.

Nathan Kimpell, who does historic restoration and sign work from Missoula, said he's "working on making a living at it."

Joel Machler, who owns Beaver Creek Forge near Springhill, is the group's treasurer and the weekend-long conference's organizer. He has a "day job" as an electrical engineer.

Participants at the conference are not farriers - or horseshoers - though some may have started that way, he said. These folks make architectural and decorative metalwork like railings, door handles, coat hooks, tables and candelabras.

"It's like architectural jewelry," said Jake Brown, a journeyman blacksmith who traveled from Alberta for the conference.

Morris Hallowell, of Livingston, snapped photos as Nedbor hammered and heated metal bars and rods. A gun dealer, Hallowell said blacksmithing is a "secondary business" for him. It's more gratifying than his other job.

"After a lifetime of selling things that other people have made, no matter the quality, I find it therapeutic to make things with my own hands," he said.

Tom Holcombe, who hosted the conference at his Sore Elbow Forge on Story Mill Road, said he started as a recreational blacksmith about 10 years ago and bought the facility at the entrance to Bridger Canyon about eight years ago.

"It was a fun hobby," he said.

But it was the craftsmanship that hooked him.

"Being able to make something by hand is what drew me to it," Holcombe said.

Why metal, then? Why not carpentry, for example?

"Metal, it lasts forever," he said.

"It's the mystique of metal, the ancient aspect of it," Machler agreed. "There's just something about metal.

"And you get really cool toys too," he added.

Northern Rockies Blacksmith Association.  

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