Texarkana College’s Bill Moran School of Bladesmithing will celebrate its move from Washington, Arkansas, to Texarkana, Texas, with an open house and ribbon cutting on Friday, Oct. 11 at 4:30 p.m. The public is also invited to purchase tickets to the school’s first Piney Woods Hammer-In held at the new location Oct. 12-13. The school’s new facility is located on Coolidge Avenue at Texarkana College’s main campus.
The bladesmithing school was launched in 1988 in partnership with the American Bladesmith Society and was the first of its kind in the world. In July 2019, school officials decided to relocate to the Texarkana College campus to offer more modern amenities while preserving the school’s rich history and proven instructional methods.
The open house will allow the community to see the new facility first-hand and will feature the dedication of the B.R. Hughes Classroom and the ceremonial forging of the first knife made in the new facility. Hughes, former Dean of Students for Texarkana College and one of the four founders of the American Bladesmith Society, was instrumental in bringing this unique program to Texarkana College.
“We are proud of this program and thankful for everything B.R. Hughes has done to promote the ancient art of bladesmithing,” said TC President Dr. Jason Smith. “Thanks to him, our college has the oldest and most successful bladesmithing program in the world. The curriculum is endorsed by the ABS—the leading authority on knives and blades—and the craft draws people who are looking to make their own knives, either as a hobby or to enhance their own profession.”
The Fall Piney Woods Hammer-In is an annual event hosted by the American Bladesmith Society at the Bill Moran School of Bladesmithing facility. The hammer-in will be held Oct. 12-13 and will feature live demonstrations, breakout sessions on a variety of bladesmithing topics, an auction, and networking opportunities with bladesmiths. Tickets for the event are $60 and can be purchased on-site or at the American Bladesmith Society store at americanbladesmith.com.
“There’s something for everyone at a hammer-in,” said Don McIntosh, Coordinator of the Bill Moran School of Bladesmithing. “Whether you’re curious and are just starting out or you’re an experienced bladesmith, you’ll pick up something useful. Everyone is welcome! We have people of all ages attend our hammer-ins.”
On-site registration will take place Saturday from 7-8 a.m. The day will kick off with a welcome and introduction at 8 a.m. and will end with an auction beginning at 5 p.m. Demonstrations will also be held Sunday from 8 a.m.-12 p.m.
Presentations will cover topics including hand forging, grinding blades, exotic handle materials, stainless San Mai blades, silver wire inlay, Damascus blades, heat treating blades, frame and d-guard handles, and hands-on forging. Demonstrators include B.R. Hughes and six bladesmiths who have achieved the ABS Master Smith or Journeyman Smith rankings: Joe Keesler, MS; Don McIntosh, JS; Mike Williams, MS; Steve Dunn, MS; Shawn Ellis, JS; and Brion Tomberlin, MS.
McIntosh said he’s excited to bring the hammer-in to the Texarkana College main campus.
“In the past, we’ve had people come from hundreds of miles away to attend this event, but there were a lot of people right here in the Texarkana area who didn’t realize this was happening nearby in Washington, Arkansas,” McIntosh said. “We hope that bringing this event to Texarkana will help us share this craft with more people in the area. Many of them don’t realize there’s a world famous bladesmithing school right here in their backyard!”