Albin Drzewianowski said from the first moment he hit hot steel with a hammer, he never looked back, and he has been a hobbyist blacksmith ever since. Now Drzewianowski, secretary of the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland, is sharing his love of the craft with others at the 24th annual Blacksmith Days at the Carroll County Farm Museum.
Blacksmith Days started in 1988 as a one-day event in October, and throughout the years it has grown in popularity and was eventually expanded to two days and moved to May, he said.
The event is organized and put on by the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland in conjunction with the Farm Museum.
Dottie Freeman, manager of the Farm Museum, said she looks forward to Blacksmith Days every year.
"It's a wonderful event for those people that enjoy blacksmithing, and it's an educational experience for people who want to learn more," she said. "The blacksmiths have been an inspiration to the history lesson we're trying to promote at the Farm Museum."
Drzewianowski said the two-day event is great for professional or hobbyist blacksmiths and the general public alike.
The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., May 19 and 20, and it is separated into two different parts.
For a registration fee of $40, attendees are provided with continental breakfast and lunch each day, along with exclusive demonstrations geared toward people who have at least some knowledge of forging, Drzewianowski said. In order to enter the event before noon on either day, visitors must pay the $40 registration fee.
Admission to Blacksmith Days after 12 p.m. on May 19 and 20 is the general admission price of the Farm Museum, which is $5 for adults, $4 for children 7-18 years old and for seniors 60 years old and older, and free for children 6 years old and younger.
Each year anywhere from 150-200 blacksmiths register for the event, and around another 100 people from the general public attend the event during the afternoon, according to Drzewianowski.
There will be demonstrations by blacksmiths throughout the entire day for anyone to observe, he said.
Drzewianowski said Blacksmith Jymm Hoffman will be demonstrating colonial style forging and blacksmithing. Mark Sentz, a master bladesmith with the American Bladesmith Society, will demonstrate the various aspects of knife-making, he said.
In the afternoon, people who are new to blacksmithing will be able to sign up for one-on-one sessions where they will have a chance to make an S-hook with an experienced blacksmith.
There will also be demonstrations by farriers with the Maryland Farriers Association, according to Dean Geis, who is the treasurer of the association and a member of the Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland.
Farriers specialize in equine hoof care and make horseshoes, Geis said.
"Our main goal is promoting education and higher quality farrier work, because as farriers we are the essence for keeping horses sound," he said. "It's like the old adage, 'No foot, no horse.' We actually forge things that go on a living thing, so we have to be very, very meticulous in our measurements and precision."
There will be competitions throughout the day for the blacksmiths and farriers, not for prizes or money, but for fun and bragging rights until next year, Geis said.
Along with demonstrations, the event will feature a flea market, raffles and a silent auction, Drzewianowski said.
The raffles will include small items made by members of the guild, as well as larger items like a Damascus ladle forged from special Damascus steel and a knife donated by the Baltimore Knife and Sword Company, he said. The premiere item in the silent auction will be a calla lily sculpture forged by a European-trained blacksmith visiting from the Ukraine.
Items made by members of the guild will also be available for purchase during Blacksmith Days.
Geis said the handmade items make great gifts for family and friends.
"I bought my wife a phenomenal kitchen knife at Blacksmith Days a couple years ago," he said. "It wasn't cheap, but it's an incredible piece of work, and it's something that will last a lifetime or a couple lifetimes."
Drzewianowski said he hopes people who are interested in forging and blacksmithing will come out to the event to learn more about the craft.
The Blacksmith Guild of Central Maryland has around 200 members, he said, and more people join each year after being inspired at Blacksmith Days.
"A lot of our members have come out of Blacksmith Days," he said. "We usually pick up anywhere from four to six new members. People come, they see everything that's going on, and they get interested."