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A 2015 Blueprint for an Artisan's Metalworking Association

Posted By Todd Daniel, Thursday, September 17, 2015

By Dan Nauman, Bighorn Forge Inc.

NOMMA Member

 

 

This is a compilation of thoughts and ideas spawned from seasoned and learned artisans in metal who have offered their wisdom in an effort to improve a metalworking organization.  I dedicate this text to these individuals, indeed hoping that this initiates a trend towards positive change, improving and solidifying the future of forging, along with complimentary forms of creative metalwork.
Introduction

“A leader takes people where they want to go.  A great leader takes people where they don’t want to go, but ought to be.” – Rosalynn Carter

It has been over 40 years since the renaissance in forging and shaping metal began.  Numerous organizations have sprouted, some flourishing at some point during this time-period.  Making a living shaping metal was merely a dream for most in the 1970’s.  Today, though still not common, hundreds of men and women provide for their families by making things of metal; some full time, some part time.  Over the four decades, we can even identify some of the metalwork made during this span as being made in a specific decade, or by a certain individual.  Where once it was difficult to find a book on forging, today not only are there numerous books, but we also have the Internet, providing information on metalwork literally at our fingertips.   This knowledge base has increased at an alarming rate.  What was almost lost, has now been re-established in not only the minds of those who practice shaping metal, but also in the minds of architects, interior designers, and even the every-day ordinary person with simply a passing interest.  Many artisans who began their interest in metal in the 70’s have grown by leaps and bounds learning many aspects of design, architecture, and process.  The work that these artisans produce can sometimes be compared to the great masters, while others express new and exciting designs. For most, this maturation process took much longer than the average college education, and longer than the master guided apprentice/journeyman (guild) system of long ago.

However, while metalworking individuals have matured, metalworking organizations have not kept up with their maturation process.  Some organizations began and flourished with their original game-plan, specifically geared towards artists, beginning smiths and hobbyists, while others targeted specific process, modern technology, or leaned heavily towards the business of metalwork.  Unfortunately, these organizations planed out, and failed to take the lead; their original game plans wore out, and eventually outdated.

For example, learning to forge in the 1970’s was a scattergun approach.  Students had no clear path to learning, so they enrolled in just about any workshop, bought any available books, and sought anyone who smelled like coal to teach them.  Today, though we have a bounty of resources to learn from, as well as places to learn, learning is still a scattergun approach.  Even with this now vast knowledge base, and with numerous learned individuals, we still do not have an established, clear, and linear path to learn how to forge…not one. Yes, we can point to many forging how-to books and instruction manuals, but none have proved to be a thorough treatise, nor a linear approach for the student. This is but one of the issues that has sadly never been seriously addressed by any metalworking organization.  There is a need for metalworking organizations to mature, and there are numerous other outstanding reasons to do so; safety in the studio, as well as product safety and integrity heading the list.

“Leadership is the ability to transform vision into reality.” – Warren G. Bennis

Since roughly 1996, these and other issues have been highlighted through numerous conversations with many people, whom I shall refer to as “senior smiths”, or those who have dedicated their lives to shaping iron, mainly by use of hammer, anvil and forge.  Many of these individuals have pushed themselves to learn much of the processes of the great master blacksmiths, i.e. Tijou, Mazzucotelli, Colnik, Yellin, Benetton, Kuhn, and others like them.  They then apply and push themselves to master like forms, or then progress to design and create fresh ideas.  Many of these senior smiths have offered opinions about what is lacking, what is missed, or what is needed in an organization to more properly lead, teach, communicate, and prepare highly motivated, interested, and devoted individuals in designing, studying, and shaping hot metal (See note #1 below).  This dialogue speaks mainly for these senior smiths, as well as for some younger smiths, who are driven, determined, and disciplined in forging. 

Note #1: It is interesting to note that many individuals dedicated to solely forging would not be satisfied with an association based solely on forging.  Many of these individuals also understand and appreciate many forms of well designed and well executed metalwork that utilize the cutting edge of technology, i.e. MIG and TIG welding, laser and plasma cutting, and more.  Many also understand that to make a living shaping metal without sometimes using cutting edge technology is difficult (though not impossible.) It is also commonly accepted that if artisans and artists expect metal design to progress, that there must be freedom in the processes and technology utilized in order to do so.  Thus, an organization that promotes and represents these many forms of metalwork would be acceptable, however with a caveat: The organization must delineate each discipline as separate from the other(s), strongly highlighting each discipline’s peculiarities to avoid confusion between disciplines.  These distinctions are key in order for the organization to be successful.


For clarification purposes in the organization, it must be noted that each of these are indeed separate and distinct disciplines: 1.) Forging 2.) Electric welding (includes arc, MIG, TIG) 3.) Fabrication (not utilizing forged elements or forged joinery) 4.) Casting 5.) Stamping 6.) Machining (lathe, mill, CNC, etc.)


“Diversion” by Dan Nauman
Forged and fabricated, mild steel, natural patina, 48” x 88” 
2012 Edgewood Orchard Gallery, Fish Creek, WI

Here is a 2015 combined overview of the existing metalworking organization’s dynamics, and also the roots of some of their issues, and potential solutions:

Many observations by the senior smiths speak of a lack of design leadership, as well as forging fundamental leadership.  
So…where are our leaders, and who are they?  It would be easy to play favorites here, but clearly a leader would be one who shows proficiency in his or her craft.  Other indicators would be business success, notoriety outside of the organization, proficiency in teaching the respective craft, and a proficiency in organizing and managing.  These attributes largely describe a business owner.  Of the successful business owners I know, many work 50, 60 or even 70 hours per week.  This does not bode well for one who is asked to volunteer a great deal of time to run an organization outside of their work environment.  It is well known that “time is money.” That said, a volunteer based organization would not likely have many individuals reflecting many of the above listed attributes running the organization on a regular basis, or consistently.  Volunteering gets old in a hurry when there are major problems within your own company.  Many older, and/or retired artisans also feel they have already put in their proverbial dues by serving earlier in life.  (For solutions to this situation, see #3 below.)
2.) Many site the publications as being often sub-par, siting several cover images in particular.  

Say what you may, but many folks do judge books by their covers.  Simply put, the cover ought to represent the craft’s best in design and craftsmanship.  The publication’s contents should do the same.  However, many articles are written in a folksy manner, and contain poor images (poor lighting, bad background, noise, etc.) This is due in large part as many articles are written by the membership, not by journalists or professional writers.

Other complaints include editorial responsibilities, i.e. bad lay-out and format (lay-out too busy, confusing, graphic noise, contrasting color, etc.) If a publication pays professional writers to write the articles, the resulting essays will be well written, but sometimes lack insight or substance.  The reason is likely that some of these professional writers are solely reporters, and not familiar with metalworking disciplines.  Thus, the resulting article may miss key points, miss emphasis on the process(es) used, and terminology is sometimes confused.

Potential solutions for #2 would be to first have an editor that is of the mindset.  He or she would be familiar with several forms of metalworking.  The publication would have regular contributing writers, all of whom are established in some form of metalwork, some or all of whom are paid to provide these articles.  Member submitted articles would require sound content, and images that reflect professional qualities.  Member submitted articles would also be accepted/rejected by an established review committee that works closely with the editor.  The category (of metalwork), quality of the articles, and cover image selection would be by recommendation of this committee. Specific departments would be established (i.e. forging, fabrication, restoration, reproduction, etc.) for continuity from one issue to the next, with lay-out that is high on essay and image content, and less on exotic page color, design, and font.  Broader content could be accomplished by an “International Communiqué” department, as well as through regional editors, i.e. East Coast, West Coast, Midwest, etc.  If there is nothing to report for a given department in an issue, it would be noted “No Report” or “No Article Submitted for this Issue.”

To help insure quality submissions, an annual “Members Choice Awards” would be held, based on publication submissions.  Awards, based on images and design in the publication, would be for each category (see #II in the outline below), awarding gold, silver and bronze medals.

“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.  The last is to say thank you.  In between, the leader is a servant.” – Max DuPree.


“Pool Gate Drawing #2” by Dan Nauman
Graphite and ink. 2007 (Artisan’s collection.)

3.) Standards, education, and identification of achievements.  

Starting with the latter, if you sign up for a workshop, often the workshop is listed as for a beginner, intermediate, or for an advanced individual.  We can all define a “beginner”.  However, what defines “intermediate” or “advanced”? (Think on this for a moment.)  There are no universally accepted, nor accurate definitions of either as a gauge for learning metalworkers, especially where forged work is concerned. Ask a room of ten people in a given workshop to describe what an “intermediate” is, and you’ll receive eleven different answers.  You will likely receive a very huge and diverse cross section of what the requirements are for any given level.  

Example: When a forging workshop is billed as “advanced”, many might assume that an advanced individual is well acquainted and competent with forge welding.  However, because of today’s lack of level definitions, likely one or more members of a given advanced workshop would not be able to weld very well, or perhaps may never have forge welded anything at all.  This is not so much of a problem if the student is only mildly interested in forging, but what of the other students in the advanced workshop?  Will they get equal attention time from the instructor?  Or will the instructor be mired down showing a novice welder how to weld?  Or worse…several novices?!  One instructor lamented that he held an advanced workshop that involved knowledge of forging, hardening, and tempering of carbon steels, along with power hammer work, only to find out that two out of the five students had never had a forging hammer in their hand prior to that workshop. 

Thus, to help solve this problem, there is a need for a system that identifies an individual’s forging achievements.

What about the instructor’s capabilities?  How does the student know whether the instructor knows enough about the craft to teach…and if he does have the requirements, can he teach the processes clearly? It might clearly  state “master blacksmith” on the teacher’s card or bio, so he must be a capable teacher, correct?  Unfortunately, (and sadly), there are many instructors out there who should not be teaching or demonstrating.  Since there is no established criterion for an individual to prove an individual’s achievements, nor their ability to teach the craft in any way, shape or form…anyone, no matter their capabilities, can bill themselves as a forging instructor, teacher, or demonstrator.  So for the unfortunate students, it is truly a roll-of-the-dice as from whom they will be learning.  

I have heard one horror story where a person was teaching regularly (and charging a fee) with under a year’s worth of forging experience…and that experience was based on only two weeks worth of formal instruction.  He gets away with it because let’s face it, in today’s world most people (i.e. beginners) have no clue about forging.  A good analogy would be touting the fact that one can “imitate Abraham Lincoln orating when he was 26 years old.”  If you’ve never witnessed the original, it all looks and sounds fantastic!  

Many seasoned smiths can think back upon what they used to perceive as great design and workmanship, only to realize later what a disappointment that work really was back then. Remember the work of the late 1970’s?  Everything was extreme twists, dragons, and letter openers, and many of us thought it was all wonderful.

Thus, knowing whether an instructor is competent in forging will help the young students, as well as maturing students greatly.

“Leaders think and talk about solutions.  Followers think and talk about the problems.” – Brian Tracy

 

“Progression of a Bobeche” Storyboard, by Dan Nauman
Repousse’ in mild steel, wax finish.  2005
Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee, WI

B2.) But because an instructor is capable, doesn’t necessarily mean he can teach the fundamentals well, linearly, or clearly.  A universally accepted curriculum is needed, so everyone teaching can read from the same book.  Beyond that, a system to train instructors should be developed, (perhaps a mentor-ship program) to insure the very best teachers for the students.

C.) Today, there are likely hundreds of individuals identifying themselves as “Master” blacksmiths.  A true master (of anything) is a title awarded by a guild (or at the very least, a committee), to and individual who has met the criterion set forth by the guild.  Since the guild system has ceased to exist, “these modern day masters” are self-proclaimed, and have done so based on their own criterion.  Unfortunately, this again causes confusion in many circumstances, as these “masters” could potentially be merely novices who went to Kinko’s to have business cards printed with “Master Blacksmith” by their names.  Sadly, their students, and sometimes their clients are duped into believing these individuals are reputable, competent, and proven in their designs and workmanship.  Likely, many times their students are taught the “long way around the barn”, or wrong altogether.  Also likely, their clients are left with a poorly designed piece that neither fits their style, nor the appropriate proportions of the given space.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have a vision.  You cannot blow an uncertain trumpet.”
Theodore M. Hesburgh

Note #2: Many snarl at the notion of established levels, but as is being shown here, clearly established levels will aid in teaching and learning. It may be that those who turn up their noses to established levels fear that their true level is lower than they might believe.  In other words, they fear they might be exposed as being less than they pontificate.  

Established levels also serve as a benchmark, or a sort of achievement award for aspiring individuals. Consider this: What good would it have done for you if you had no idea what your grades were in grammar school? It is no different in forging and other disciplines.  

Still others feel that established levels would create an elitist contingent.   Believe me, the contingent exists, titles or not, so that is not a valid concern.

Note #3: Many who turn their noses up to labels or achievement levels say “My portfolio is all I need to declare and prove my competency.”  That may be true, both to their credit, but also perhaps to their detriment, as it may show how incompetent they are, and many don’t even recognize their own incompetence.  Their portfolio might show what appears to be fine workmanship, however we all know an image may be deceiving or enhanced.  We ourselves have “our best side”, and likewise, so do some of our earlier works.

Beyond that, an image cannot prove out structural integrity.  Have you ever approached a table, forged or not, and upon placing pressure upon it, had it shift miserably…so miserably that you dared not place a full glass upon it?  That table looked just fine as you approached it, however just looking at it didn’t prove its integrity, or lack thereof.  Likewise an image proves nothing of structural integrity.  Form follows function, and we’ve all seen seemingly wonderful designs, only to find out later that though it looks great, it functions poorly. Thus, one’s “portfolio” is not proof of competency.

“Leadership is an action, not a position.” – Donald H. McGannon


Dan Nauman, Artist in Residence
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
Wausau, WI July 2011

The solution to Item #3 A-C would be to establish a well thought out system of achievement levels.  This system should be based on the knowledge and experience of several seasoned and learned individuals who would pass the criterion in item #1 (above).  Once a system has been established, a test period should ensue, and then an annual review board should evaluate how well the system is working, and make necessary revisions.  This review board should be in close contact with craft schools, forging organizations, and affiliates.

Some form of accepted instructor criterion should be in place to insure instructor competency.  Again, perhaps a mentor-ship program could be in place where aspiring instructors could work alongside established instructors, until they learn the methodology of teaching the respective craft.  It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that certifying instructors would be a positive step for the betterment of the students, and especially the craft itself.

As mentioned above, a test period for the initial instructor training should be put into place, followed again by annual reviews by a board, also involving craft schools, forging associations, and affiliates.

However, more importantly, before a curricula or achievement levels can be established, there needs to be a forging standard to measure by.  But what standard?  That is correct, there isn’t a standard for forging, so at present, there is no concrete measuring stick to determine the level of competency of any individual.  On another level, in the building trades, there is no” forging standard” to insure the safety of the product.  That alone is a recipe for disaster.  In addition, there is nothing in place to insure safety in the forging studio.


Broken pier leg due to lack of material.

Think on this for a bit: What denotes a sound tenon joint (see above image), a sound upset right angle bend, or a sound forge weld?  For example, if a railing used as a barrier is constructed, and any one of these should fail, lives are in jeopardy.  Simply stating that the railing must withstand 200 ft. lbs. from any given direction is not enough to insure safety, as if these joints are improperly executed, they may fail over time, and perhaps in a short time at that.

Finally, without a forging standard, it is impossible to develop a proper forging curriculum.  The standard must come first, then the curriculum can be written.  The curriculum should be of a linear nature, gradually immersing the student into more difficult processes.  The student should then be graded, and finally awarded for any and all achievements.  

Standards, curriculum, education, achievements, and safety…these all work together to better the craft, as well as the craftsman.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world.  Indeed it always has.” – Margaret Meed.


4.) Forged, Fabricated, Or?
When we see an image in a publication or a piece in a competition, we need to know more specific information.  We can all identify with marveling at a piece of metalwork, then wondering how a specific motif was accomplished.  Some of us can also relate to viewing a project billed as “forged”, only to note that most of it has been MIG welded, ground with a right angle grinder, used cast or stamped elements, and truly the only “forging” were some hot-formed and bent bars.  The problems here are many.  For the learning metalworker, primarily interested in forging, trying to figure out how a piece was formed is hard enough without being miss-identified regarding the process.  Many “forged” projects have hidden MIG, TIG, or arc welds…we need to know this, if we are to truly understand and appreciate what we are looking at.  Unfortunately, this information and more is not honestly presented, or it is even hidden for whatever purpose.  Even honestly stating that a piece is “forged and fabricated” does not go far enough, as we need to know what was forged, and what was fabricated.  Example: How does a student know if a leaf is forged, cast, stamped, or by means of repousse’ merely by looking at it?  

On another note, in a competition, it isn’t fair to one who primarily forged something to be competing with another project that is mostly fabricated, but entered as mostly or wholly forged.  In this case we are comparing and judging radically different processes, and nobody truly wins.

Without clearly defined submissions or entries, the integrity of the publication or competition may be compromised.

 

“Altar Candlestick” by Dan Nauman
Mild steel, 24” x 36”, Gilders Paste finish
St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Fayetteville, NC

Example:  In the image of the candlestick above, can you determine simply by looking at it whether it is 100% forged, 90% forged, or forged and fabricated?  What do those terms (forged, fabricated, etc.) actually mean?

Potential solutions obviously involve honesty on whomever is submitting the information.  However, an experienced review board could also determine whether a project passes the criterion for “forged” or falls more correctly into “fabricated”, or “forged and fabricated.”  Further, demand to know what parts of the project were forged, what were fabricated, etc.

Perhaps categories could determine: A.) Period Forging, 100% forged (only forging processes including the nine forging fundamentals listed in #3 of the “Clarification Notes” below) 2.) Modern Forging, 90% to 99% forged. 3.) Forged and fabricated (Less than 90% forged.)  Note:  These are only suggestions, and could be refined.

Other pertinent information would suggest, A.) Who designed the project?  2.) What determined the discipline(s) used?   Certainly these clarification aspects could be defined even further and more clearly.

There also needs to be clear definitions regarding disciplines, i.e., 1.) Forging 2.) Fabricating 3.) Machining 4.) Casting 5.) Welding 6.) Etc.

Some might feel these distinctions are too picky.  However, consider how many times you have asked the question, “How was that motif executed?”, only to find out that the process used was not even close to what you had considered.  You may have even been disappointed to learn that it involved no hand skills by the creator. We need to be more scrutinizing in how we present projects to others, so others may clearly understand, and thereby learn.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Summary: This is serious stuff. 

To implement any of the above ideas and programs will take a dedicated force, and years to conceive, refine, and finally establish.  If it happens quickly one should question the integrity of the program.

For now we can agree that no existing organization:

Caters well to a solely forging based member.  
Clearly distinguishes between forging, fabrication, period work, etc. 
Has a linear, progressive, and well-planned teaching program for forging. 
Insures the competency of instructors, teachers, or demonstrators. 
Has established a forging standard.  
Has attempted to establish achievement levels or status, based on an individual’s accumulated knowledge and skill base.


Audience participation at “Dan Nauman, Artist in Residence”
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, Wausau, WI.  July 2012.


Action: A new blueprint is needed to establish a new or existing organization that addresses the above issues. 

An “Artisan’s Assembly of Metalworkers” association likely would be widely accepted, with proper monitoring, and implementing of the above thoughts and ideas.  Again, distinguishing between disciplines, is of the utmost importance. Also, there needs to be solid leadership in the senior category, and likely the organization would not be of a non-profit status; and much, much more, as discussed above.

 The outline below is designed to begin the process of organizing these thoughts and ideas for whatever organization that realizes the value of such wisdom.  (Note that the items are not listed in order of importance.)

Some clarification notes:

A.) This text has avoided the use of the word “blacksmith” as it does not clearly describe what one does, nor does it define a process.  The word “blacksmithing” is not recognized by most dictionaries as a word, and thus also does not describe a process.  Thus, neither word will be found in this text. 

B.) The word “artisan" is used in this text to describe a creative metalworker.  As one must be an artisan to be an “artist”, we are not excluding artists from this dialogue.

C.)The word “forge” and its derivatives define a unique discipline defined by primary processes of which there are nine fundamentals: 1.) Drawing down 2.) Upsetting 3.) Cutting (splitting, slitting, or surface embellishment) 4.) Bending 5.) Twisting 6.) Joinery (rivets, collars, lap joints, mortise and tenon, etc.) 7.) Punching 8.) Drifting 5.) Forge welding.  The products created by forging use only these fundamentals to produce a piece in its entirety.

D.)The word “fabricate” and its derivatives define a discipline where forging is not used as the main process, where metal is fused by electric welding, and by use of catalogue parts, i.e. cast or stamped, are employed. 

E.) There may be a category of metalwork that employs both forged and fabricated disciplines, and thus will be denoted as “Forged and Fabricated.”


“Leadership and learning are indispensable of each other.” – John F. Kennedy.


Outline
For a 2015 “Artisans Assembly of Metalworkers”

Define vocabulary
Forge
Period forging
Restoration
Style
Other categories
Fabricate
Etc.

II.) Categories/Departments (and definitions of such)
Forged 100%
Forged and Fabricated (hybrid)
1.) Percent forged
2.) Percent fabricated
Fabricated 100%
Art/sculpture
Historical/Period
Restoration
Decorative Art
Level of Accomplishment
1.) Beginner
2.) Amateur
3.) Seasoned Professional
4.) Other(s)?

I.) Organization (leadership panel) has final word on what category a piece falls into.

Publication
Good quality articles
Pay for good articles
Regular, seasoned contributors
International communiqué
Regional articles
Leadership committee accepts/rejects articles (not board of directors, nor the editor.)
Avoid folksy, cutesy language
High quality images only
Editor must be of the mindset.

Articles must declare specific criteria
Material
Process(es)
Size x, y and z if applicable
Approx. hours to complete
Designer
Category (see #II.)
Finish
Year made
Creator’s name
10.) Level, i.e. established 20+ years; up and coming 10-19 years, newcomer 1-9 years.
11.) All categories may not be addressed in every issue.  
If a category is not addressed, the publication must say, “No report, or no article submitted.”
E.) Editor should seek authors for specific categories.

F.) Cover 
Chosen by leadership committee (not any one person, i.e. the editor.)
Must be from an article in current magazine
Must be highly representative of specific category

G.) Advertising
1.) Review committee

Annual “Member’s Choice Awards”
A.) Awards for each category
Gold, silver, bronze medals awarded
      B.) Awards given for works shown in association publication only
Helps to insure articles are written well.
Helps to insure images submitted with articles are of good quality
Competition helps to insure best works submitted to magazine
C.) Annual Awards Banquet
Awards are announced through a bulletin in creator’s hometown.
Online voting?

Develop Curriculums 
Create standard for each category before writing curriculum(s)
Teach fundamentals first
Teach stylistic, national, period, and process differences
Have targets (levels)
After a target level is reached, another is established
Recognition for achieving target level

Dues
Dues should be significant, in order to provide the best service to the membership.
Significant dues help to deter wishy-washy membership

Organization may not be a Non-Profit entity.
Allows organization to pay those on board of directors.
One current problem is that most seasoned artisans do not have time to volunteer.
Helps board member justify spending the time doing their job.
Helps to insure a board member does there job…no work/no pay.
Allows organization to write articles on professional activities.
Allows organization to pay for good articles for magazine.

Board of Directors
Must have representative(s) from each category (See II.)
Will be paid for their tenure
President must be a seasoned professional
Former presidents must help guide newly elected presidents.
Limited terms
Initial two or three year.
Can only be re-elected once.
Annual meetings
Fall on same day every year.
Paid for by association
travel
food
lodging
stipend

Conferences
Education 
Focus on education
Concentrate on addressing skill levels
Concentrate on areas of interest
Period forging
Restoration
Design
More
Location
Different and rotating locations
East
West
North
South
Central
Demonstrators
Chosen by leadership committee
All expenses paid
Stipend paid
International flavor
D.) Gallery
E.)Public Involvement 
F.)Auction
Page 15
IX.) Social Media
Web-site
Forums
Discussion boards

Funding
Dues
Divisional fees
Beginner
Professional
Student
Grants
Patrons
Benefactors (bequest)
Event fees
Workshops

Membership Empowerment
Biennial survey
Board responsiveness
Membership forums 
Blog oriented
Letters to the editor
Complaints and solutions
Review cycle of organization status.

XII.) Structure
Mission Statement
By-laws
Procedures
Infrastructure
Publication(s)
Technology
e-mail
web-site
forums

(Conclusion of outline. Obviously, much needs to be added, massaged, and clarified.)


                                                             Cyril Colnik (Undated photo)

Conclusions “For the Good of the Craft.”

Solid leadership from well seasoned and learned artisans is essential for a truly successful metalworking organization.  However the reality is this: If we expect leaders to lead, and to do so with vigor, likely they will need more of an incentive than simple “passion for the process.”  Compensating them for their work (i.e. articles, board membership, demonstrating, teaching, etc.) would be a win for all parties involved.

Create a forging standard to A.) Produce a forging curriculum B.) To establish achievement levels C.) To teach D.) To insure safety in the shop. E.) To insure safety of the products F.) To potentially certify forging students and forging instructors.

The purpose of compiling this information is in response to the many who have shared their wisdom over the last 25 years or so.  This text is put out there for any existing organization to adopt, dissect, or glean what they can from it.  Perhaps some energetic individuals will rally and create an entirely new organization based on this content.  In any event, it is hoped that those who care will review these thoughts in earnest, and some benefit will result for the good of the craft, the good of the students, and for general safety.

Any and all comments are appreciated regarding this text. Only reasonable comments will be published.  Vulgar language and sophomoric comments will be deleted.

This text in no way indicates an intent to launch a new organization, or to undermine any existing organizations.  Rather, this labor is intended for the good of the various disciplines of metalworking.  

Lastly, a resounding “Thank you” to all who contributed to this text.

Respectfully submitted,

Dan Nauman
Artisan-Designer-Owner
Bighorn Forge, Inc.
February 2015

(Note: Images used are intended solely as examples, and not intended for self-promotion.)




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How to Make Certification Part of Your Company’s Brand

Posted By Todd Daniel, Sunday, August 23, 2015

 

 

How to Make Certification Part of Your Company’s Brand

 

By Todd W. Thomas

Managing Director

IDEA

 

 

Consumers flock to credentials.

 

It’s a fact.

 

Go back 30 or 40 years to the days when auto mechanics were among the least trusted people in society.  The ranked below door-to-door salesmen, lawyers and even members of Congress among the least honest professionals. 

 

Those days are largely gone, and as it turned out, the shady shade tree mechanic wasn’t run off by angry car owners.  Rather, they were replaced by Mr. Goodwrench™, ASE™ Automotive Service Technicians, and other credentialed professionals whom the general public came to recognize as dependable and professional.

 

As a quick aside, it should be noted that many independent auto mechanics were included in the group of credentialed professionals.  Nor should it be presumed that prior to this move towards certified technicians were all mechanics dishonest.  That is simply not the case.

 

However, it was difficult for many motorists – especially those who were in need of mechanics while traveling, or when in a new town – to determine which of them were trustworthy.  It wasn’t that ethical, skilled mechanics weren’t available to the general public, it’s just that the only way to determine who they were was by trial and error.

 

So, the automotive industry put its collective heads together and – to simply a process that took approximately two decades – created credentials that the general public came to recognize.

 

That is where the automated vehicular gate community is today.  We are in the formative years of helping the general public recognize the professionals in our industry.

 

AFA’s Leadership has been Effective

 

The American Fence Association is a leader in this movement to put a spotlight on the companies and individuals who demonstrate a commitment to high standards, safety, work quality and customer care.  Certification is open to anyone who wants to participate.  It is not exclusionary.  However, history provides no evidence that unprofessional players have any interest in going through the process of earning credentials, and even those who might, would come out of the process with a new view of their business model.

 

The AFA has worked side by side with the Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA), the International Door Association (IDA) and the National Ornamental and Miscellaneous Metals Association (NOMMA) to produce two important certification programs:

 

·             Automated Gate Operator Installer Certification (AGOIC)

·             Automated Vehicular Gate Systems Designer Certification (AVGSDC)

 

Both are administered by IDEA, a non-profit credentialing and educational institute that was created in 1996 by the door industry, and which has since broadened its programs to include companies and individuals in the automated gate industry.

 

The AGOIC program was launched in 2008 and has experienced robust activity since the first testing was offered at FenceTech the same year.  The course of study used for this certification is largely the basis of the Operator Installer School.  Since its inaugural year, more than 900 individuals have enrolled in the AGOIC program, and more than 600 have been issued the credential.

 

The AVGSDC course was offered at this year’s FenceTech in Orlando, and already has issued 78 credentials and more than 100 have enrolled.

 

Both of these programs are produced and maintained by IDEA through the Automated Vehicular Gate Systems Coalition.  Former AFA President Phillip Doyle represents the fence and gate industry on this coalition.

 

How does this help me?

 

Voluntary credentialing may be the most powerful and cost effective marketing tool available to AFA members.  Here’s why:

 

·             Certified individuals and their companies are permitted use of the trademarked logo for letterhead, business cards, advertising and any other marketing item.  Consumers frequently recognize such emblems as a qualifying mark, and will limit the field of potential product and service providers to those displaying the logos.

·             Using information to draw attention to one’s certification(s) in sales proposals and bids can often make the difference between getting a major contract or losing out on the basis of price.

·             Promoting one’s certification can lead to more business.  As word spreads that there are credentials in the automated gate industry, more specifications, facility managers and public officials may begin to require them.

·             Since a strong emphasis of certification is public safety and strict adherence to UL 325 and ASTM F2200, insurers and risk managers are especially attracted to the credentials.

 

It is imperative that the automated gate industry continue the push towards professional installations.  Each time there is a tragedy involving one of the industry’s products, the question is asked in the media, Why did this happen?  All too often the answer to that question is a lack of adherence to manufacturer instructions and nationally recognized safety standards that apply to the automated vehicular gate system.  Although certification is not a warranty against such failures in the installation process, it does require the installer to learn the proper and safe installation methods and defines the certification bearer as a professional who is always expected by the issuer to do so.

 

Most importantly, certification is frequently the answer to the question: Why should I hire you instead of your competitor?  As more professionals become certified, the easier it becomes for the consumer to separate them from the field. 

 

How Will the General Public Know What Certification Means?

 

Certification has become the most widely recognized form of professional recognition in all service and construction-related trades.  A frequent misunderstanding among industry participants is that it is important for the general public to recognize the acronym of the certifying organization.  This is not true.

 

For example, ASE Certified Automotive Technicians were used as one of the types of credentials used in that field.  Most people recognize the certification as one that required specialized training and some form of documentation – such as a test – to validate the individual as certified.  That’s the part that matters to consumers, and that is why it’s irrelevant that most people do not, in fact, know what “ASE” stands for.

 

Your customers will view your certification(s) the same way.  Earning and utilizing these credentials also gives you the opportunity to tell your story in the proposal and sales process.

 

Certification is a remarkable sales and marketing tool, because it validates through an independent, non-profit third party organization that which others can only claim. 

 

Now, go ahead and Google “ASE.”

 

For more information or to register on-line for AGOIC and/or AVGSDC, visit www.dooreducation.com, or call Debra Welhener at 937-698-1027.

 

 

 

 

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