The Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association has been serving the blacksmith and metal artist community since 1998. GCBA was organized by experienced blacksmiths in order to specialize in teaching and sharing information about traditional blacksmithing and metal working.
We welcome beginners and have several members in their teens as well as blacksmiths and bladesmiths with years of experience to teach them. GCBA presently has approximately 85 dues paying members. At $25.00 per year, our dues are very affordable to all.
We hold regular monthly meetings at Buddy Leonard’s Shop and hold Annual GCBA Conferences to take advantage of the work of smiths with special skills. The proceeds of conference revenue are used for scholarships for qualified members to attend blacksmith schools such as Campbell Folk School in North Carolina and the New England School of Metalwork in Auburn, ME. In recent years we have sent three members to schools.
We are affiliated with ABANA, the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America and encourage our members to also join this national organization. GCBA regularly exchanges newsletters and publications with other affiliates throughout the North America.
Tom Walker , President
I was an auto mechanic for most of my working career. My first experience with metal work was in high school learning the basics of sheet metal work, welding, and machine operation.
I began blacksmithing in 1998 and became a member of the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association in 2003. I learned many techniques from books, the web, and other smiths. Including casting, reposse (German hammer and stake, as well as, French with punches), Mokume Gane, and all manners of iron forging. I continue to learn new tips and techniques every day.
I currently make a limited number of blades and am currently working with composite damascus. I have forged several weapons of the medievial period. I have a wide range of forged items with focal points on functional camping and cooking gear, nature including fish and flowers, and fabricated architecture. With my recent work in iron smelting, I am leading into forging blades from iron ore.
Sid Gale, Vice President
After retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps as a helicopter pilot, Sid slowly evolved into a “metal worker”. For many years he made copper, brass, and silver jewelry to sell at craft shows. He gradually learned to make whimsical items with “junk” that make people smile. Sid is currently focusing on quality decorative ironwork. See Sid’s work gallery.
With his family roots stretching back generations in the blacksmith craft, it was only natural that Chuck set out to learn this time honored art. Having little success early on, a chance meeting with an accomplished artist/blacksmith led to joining the Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association. With the unlimited knowledge base provided by the association members, useful forged items began to take shape on Chuck anvil.
While his main focus remains learning proper forge techniques, it is evident that tools and household items from the colonial era attract his intrest. Recent projects include wall scones, window grills, and stair rails, using traditional joinery methods.
With the opening of his shop in 1987, Buddy Leonard attracted students and experienced smiths to gather for informal meetings and The Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association was formed. We applied to ABANA to become affiliated with this national organization. The GCBA charter was granted in May 1999.
At the first formal meeting almost 40 people joined the chapter. Since we had members from Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Florida we named our chapter The Gulf Coast Blacksmith Association. The group kept growing and we now have about 85 members. The age of our members varies from 15 to 83 years old.
GCBA emphasizes teaching traditional blacksmithing techniques. We demonstrate blacksmithing at local schools and regional festivals. We are a non-profit organization and award a blacksmith school scholarship to one of our members each year.
Once a year GCBA holds a Conference and sponsors a nationally known demonstrator to teach new techniques to our members and guests.
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