The Red Mill/ NJBA Picnic

By John Chobrda
Sunday, September 14, turned out to be a beautiful day for Adam Howard’s 3rd annual tool swap and NJBA’s second “picnic” at the Red Mill in Clinton, NJ. Those of you who could not attend missed a real fun event. There were quite a few people tailgating, selling smithing related items, I personally didn’t bring anything home, but I did get rid of a lot of “rusty iron”. The picnic went off without a hitch and I would personally like to thank those members who brought a covered dish, everything was great.

Mike Erdie and Mitchell Swirsky set up a forge and anvil, and with Larry Fogg jumping in, demonstrated for the crowd. I did not personally get to see, but I understand that Adam was also busy in his shop. It’s my understanding that the “Iron in the Hat” more than covered the picnic expenses (there were two full tables of stuff). All in all it was a fun day and hopefully this will turn out to be an annual NJBA event, and more members and their families will become part of the event.

A Thank You From Adam Howard
On behalf of myself, Red Mill Forge, and the Museum Family, I would like to express my profound thanks to the NJBA Board and membership for again helping to make our third annual Hammer In a fantastic success! This year saw a doubling in attendance and revenues, and next year promises even more. A special thank you to John Chobrda for his delicious grilling and side dishes, great job! I hope you all had a great time as I did....Thanks a million!.. Adam R. Howard

The following was a newspaper report from the Courier News;
Blacksmiths trade tools and talents at Red Mill Museum

Staff Writer
Published in the Courier News on September 8, 2003

CLINTON -- Amateurs, professionals and enthusiasts alike swapped metal hammers and got a lesson in the age-old craft of blacksmithing Sunday at the Red Mill Museum Village.

The historical museum, on the banks of the South Branch of the Raritan River, hosted a hammer-in and tool swap -- an educational event held in conjunction with the New Jersey Blacksmith Association's annual picnic. A long line of metals, including tools, supplies and collectibles, were set up for display along the river as ribs and burgers were cooking on the grill.

Adam R. Howard, the Red Mill's resident blacksmith, showed the crowd his master metal manipulation skills by melting a slab of iron and crafting it into a serpent. A professional blacksmith for 16 years, Howard has turned the museum's shop into a fully functional business that specializes in creating upscale hand-forged products, including lighting fixtures, furniture, chandeliers and more.

"We've really turned this place into a professional, high-quality and high-end shop over the past four or five years," Howard said. "We can do any kind of work. There are facilities to hold classes on the trade and being at this site, where people come for the historical context, gives us visibility ... we're lucky because most blacksmiths have to run their business from home, but people know we're here."

Throughout the school year, the shop puts on demonstrations and historical interpretations for up to 100 students a day, Howard said. The children learn how a blacksmith shop operates and the tools used to manipulate steel and iron, such as the hammer, anvil, vice and fire. The shop also provides blacksmithing classes from beginner to advanced for those interested in learning the trade.

The tool swap, now in its third year, is both a social gathering and a learning experience, said John Chobrda, one of the directors of the blacksmith's association. "We try to have our picnic in conjunction with Adam's tool swap every year because it's a very interesting day for people to get together and have fun and learn from each other," he said.

"This keeps the art, craft and history of blacksmithing alive ... a lot of people are strictly amateur blacksmiths, and we do this for our own enjoyment," added Bruce Freeman, a fellow director of the association.

Karen Sorenson, a metalsmith from Stewartsville, works with metals on a smaller scale than a blacksmith, turning mild steel into jewelry, sculptures and boxes.

"I learned how to do this from a how-to article in a magazine ... the red hot metal just fascinated me, and it took me 13 years to actually find a place to learn it," Sorenson said. "This place, to me, is just marvelous because I've never come here and not come back with ideas," she said.

Giovanna Fabiano can be reached at (908) 782-2300 or At a glance: For more information on the Red Mill Museum Village`s Blacksmith Shop, call Adam R. Howard at (908) 735-4573. The Red Mill is at 56 Main St., Clinton.

From the Courier News website Reprints: "copyright 2001, Courier News, Bridgewater, N.J. Reprinted with permission. All rights Reserved."