FORGED IN FIRE
August 6, 2017
ANDER - Gary Richards found a passion for metalworking during high school. Many years later, the now high school teacher gets to indulge his passion at the Goliad Forge.
Located in Ander, the Goliad Forge is a small 30-by-40-foot building on Otto Bluntzer’s ranch.
Bluntzer, president of the group, started The Goliad Forge in 2001.
He is a professionally trained and certified blacksmith through the American Bladesmith Society, based in Washington, Ark, and the John C. Campbell Folk School, in Brasstown, N.C.
To get into the John C. Campbell Folk School applicants must submit a resume and and an explain of why they want to attend the school. Bluntzer ended up gaining not only admittance into the program but also a scholarship.
The reason for the scholarship was so that he could develop a new chapter of the American Blacksmith’s Association of North America, which is exactly what The Goliad Forge is.
“Our program is such where interested people can come in and join in at any time,” Bluntzer said. “We’ve designed that flexibility into it.”
That’s how Richards became involved in the group in January. He was on the group’s national website attempting to find a local group when he found The Goliad Forge.
“I called Otto, he invited me over and I’ve been here since,” Richards said.
Getting an interested person’s hands on the materials and working as soon as possible is the most important thing. Especially since there’s not a lot of paperwork or fees associated with becoming a member of the group, Blunter said.
“To get into the group, all you have to do is walk in the door,” Bluntzer said.
Because of this, interested members would come from all around Ander. They come from Victoria, Goliad and Cuero, he said.
Richards, who drives from Kenedy, enjoys coming to every meeting to learn more about the art and skill of blacksmithing.
“When I retire, it’s something that I want to pursue and have the skills to be good at it,” Richards said.
Richards’s goal isn’t too far-fetched. Especially since The Goliad Forge has already had two members become full-time blacksmiths, Bluntzer said.
“Whatever your objective is, that’s up to you,” Bluntzer said. “How far you want to carry it.”
The forge has had people do blacksmithing solely as a hobby, while others participate just for the fun, and of course, some retire and pursue blacksmithing as a career afterward.
The club meets every second and third Wednesday at Bluntzer’s ranch. It’s free to attend, although there is a coffee can for donations set up to help offset the costs of materials, maintenance and new equipment.
While the club has about 10 members each meeting, it’s also about the limit the current building can hold. However, Bluntzer is looking to set up a larger facility in or around Goliad in the future.
“In order to do this, we’re going to need a lot of support,” Bluntzer said.
While the club does make and sell items at local craft shows, it’s just not enough income to help expand. The group did purchase a cargo carrier for storage purposes to help create more room in the current shop, but it’s still not large enough.
While the financial situation is one aspect of the group’s intended expansion, another is exposing more children to the art of blacksmithing.
“We’re looking to have more young people, like maybe a school group come in,” Bluntzer said.
The group does demonstrations at various festivals and craft shows and each time children have a great time, Bluntzer said.
“Our objective is to keep the art alive and have fun doing it,” Bluntzer said.
That is something Richards has most certainly learned in his seven months of being with The Goliad Forge.
“If you get a chance, come on out. I think you’ll like it,” Richards said.