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        President's Message


Februray, 2011

It was just over ten years ago that Pat McGuire saw a beginner's question I'd asked on a internet blacksmithing forum and invited me to visit the Guild, which turned out to be practically in my backyard. During the time since, I've learned a huge amount from members like Bill Wojcik, George Anderton, and Keith Kuck – and not just about blacksmithing. Other members who help form the backbone of the Guild when I started have moved further away; most by a few counties, but others clear across the country. And others still are no longer with us.

It's now my turn as president to work to maintain and preserve what those before me have built, as well as to look to the future. The Guild has a lot of strengths, including a permanent shop and meeting space at Gulf Branch Nature Center, which the membership recently came together to expand. Financially, the Guild is stable and solid.

We do face challenges, though. The most immediate of these is finding a Treasurer to replace Hop Long, who is looking to turn over his duties in the next few months. More broadly, we need to continue to recruit new members. The Guild's roster is thinning as members move away and as more blacksmithing groups form in the region, reducing the effective area the Guild can draw from. We're been lucky to attract some talented and enthusiastic new members, but we need to make sure we maintain the critical mass needed to put on the Guild's demos and other events.

Coming up shortly is the Guild's major annual event, Spring Fling. As usual, Bill Wojcik has an array of exciting demonstrators lined up, but for the event to be a success, we need you there. So if you haven't sent in your invitation, do it now. If you didn't get one or can't find it, download one from the Guild website. And don't forget to bring items for iron-in-the-hat and the auction.

One thing that's always impressed me about blacksmithing events is how willing folks are to pitch in and do what needs to be done. But there's a lot that needs to be done, so be sure to sign up for a job at Spring Fling. If you can, come to help out with iron-in-the-hat or the kitchen; you might give someone like Charlie Perticari or Dave Murphy get a chance to step out and see a little of a demo. And if you see something that needs attention, fix it or let someone with a radio know.

I'll see you at Spring Fling!

Mike Briskin
President BGOP



September, 2010


Once again I would like to start my message with wear your safety glasses and hearing protection. It is important that you protect your eyes and ears.

The 2010 BGOP Spring Fling is now over. It is now time to start planning for next year. Believe it or not we are already looking for demonstrators for next year. Let any board member know if you have any ideas on something you would like to see or that you think might improve our big event.

Another big thing happened recently. As you may know we were renting space from a storage facility in Marshal VA. Due to the efforts of Paul Hollis we were able to take procession of a 20 ft sea container. Both the container and delivery were free of charge to the Guild. Jeff Symanski has agreed to allow us to storage the container on the property of the Commercial Tool and Die Company in Marshall. Thanks to these two members we are now saving over a thousand dollars a year in storage fees. The next time you see these two be sure to thank them. They deserve it.

Wear your safety glasses and hearing protection.

George Anderton
President BGOP


January, 2010


First things first.

Wear your safety glasses and hearing protection. Next. It is about three months to Spring Fling 2010. Prepare yourselves now. Make something for the iron in the hat. Be sure to put your name or mark on it. But don't go overboard unless you want to. Set aside the week end of April 17th to attend. Come on out and have fun and learn something.

A year ago I asked that if you had an idea on what you would like to see demonstrated at the meetings to let me or another board member know. I didn't hear many ideas this past year so I am asking again for your input. This is your guild. Help make it work.

Safety first and last.

Wear your safety glasses and hearing protection.

Keep warm, see you at the meeting.

George Anderton
President BGOP



December, 2009

Think safety.

Well it has happened again.

For the second time in my life I have pulled the muscles in my lower back bad enough that I have to take pain meds and muscle relaxers in order to sit in a chair and write this. I didn't think I did any thing wrong all I did was pick up two 40 lb. bags of salt for the water softener. I grabbed the handles on the bags and bent my legs and stood up. I think now that I moved to fast and my back wasn't able to take the strain. I got the salt in the machine, this time one bag at a time. I then spent the rest of the day with an ice pack on my back. Not fun.

So you may ask; how is this related to Blacksmithing? Well it's related because I can't go out to the shop today. And I may not be able to go out tomorrow. When I am in the shop I frequently have to pick up things that weigh as much as a 40lb bag of salt. It could have happened there just as easily as in my basement.

Accidents happen. But this one like many others could have been prevented. I know that as I grow older it is more and more important to keep up a regular exercise program. Had I been doing that over the past two years this accident would not have happened. As soon as I am able I will start a new exercise program. This time maybe I can stick with it.

I have always believed that you should learn from your mistakes. But it is even better if you can learn from the mistakes of others. If you have an accident or even a near accident in the shop, consider sharing it with the rest of us. Maybe we can learn from it and work a little safer as a result. You can even send in your accident report with a request to keep your name out of it.

Our annual meeting and pot luck dinner is coming up fast. It will be December 5, 2009. Please plan to attend I would like all of you to be there if you can.

Think first, think safety and be careful out there.

George Anderton
President BGOP


      Last Updated:   5-6-2011

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