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Cyber Smiths Int.
Volume 34 - Page 26 of 37 July 7, 2004
ABANA Conference
Richmond, Kentucky - EKU Campus
Uri Hofi with results of dems Uri Hofi with the results of four days of demos

THE CONFERENCE: Started Tuesday night with a heavy rain storm and ended Saturday night with a heavy rain storm. In between it was miserably hot and humid, typical for summer time in most of the Central and Southern US.

Although it seemed well organized the conference facilities were much too spread out for some of us. The quarter mile hike and three flights of stairs to the cafeteria was too much for many of us in this weather. Although there was a scheduled bus I found many people waiting half hour or more in the merciless sun. The University (or ABANA) probably made out like a bandit on undelivered meals. I had a meal ticket for convienience but only used it once. Many others did the same. It is time that ABANA start looking for indoor venues such as the coliseums where monster car shows are put on. If these places air handling systems can take monster truck exhust and show pyrotectnics then they could take a little coal smoke.

The Demonstrations: As in the past many of the demonstrations were much too long and slow to enjoy. In the large tents all one could see is a piece of hot metal and something being done to it. Despite the sould systems one could hear or understand the demonstrator ocassionaly but not always. The large venue approach does not work in blacksmithing demonstrations and should be given up or carefully rethought. There were more than enough demonstrators to break things up into many small more intimate settings on shorter schedules.

In comparison to the large demos where people milled in and out the Uri Hofi Big BLU demos held people in their seats for the entire demo. Folks can say what they will about Uri's ego but he is still one of the best demonstrators in the business. His approach to teaching is to show the student how to make various shapes which can then be combined or used alone. This same approach is applied to his demonstrations. Specific items were produced and each step displayed. His demonstrations had a beginning and an end.

At the other end of the spectrum was the Czechs Daniel Cerny, Gert Bruyninx and Jan Stanek demonstration making the conference grill. These guys were doing some great blacksmithing at great personal expense but they were not "demonstrators" in the educational sense. The language barrier was a large part of the problem but this could have been overcome with the help of any knowledgable smith assigned by ABANA as demo interpreter. Someone with master of ceremonies experiance could have made the project more interesting and helped hold a crowd and made things more interesting. The demo would have been better with Czech explainations even if no one else understood.

The other large venue demonstrators had much the same problem with endless demos. Making things that take days to accomplish or have picky details bores the audiance to death. It IS possible to put on this kind of demo in an interesting way. At least ONE of the demonstrators has to do produce something quickly to show to the audiance. In the process they can explain the processes going on behind them that are taking days. . . or they can produce a small sample of a much larger object.

Demonstrating is an art as much as the craft itself. When the demonstration is put on in a big venue (seating of 100 or more) then it becomes a show that must be thought out and produced like a theater show. Big venues require big acts. Everything must be done in a bigger way. Subtleness does not work. Actions must be larger, the scenes over acted.
Ted Banning "Pumping Iron" 

Ted and his wife Ann have been the hosts of the West Virginia Armour-In the past few years. Ted is one of those little know craftsmen that produces exceptional work. He is looking for teaching oppurtunities in armour and related work.

NEWS Edition 29, 2003 West Virginia Armour-In
NEWS Edition 33, 2004 West Virginia Armour-In
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July 7, 2004 Edition
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