Oct 12, 2013

The Metal Shapers...

There's a group of people all over the world who are interested in the somewhat esoteric subject of metal shaping.  Given a piece of sheet metal, what is required to form, bend, shape, and fabricate it into some new object?  Naturally, the Internet has enabled many of these folks to get connected in forums such as AllMetalShaping.com and MetalMeet.com and a Yahoo! metalshapers group.  It was a matter of time before they would decide to gather in some common location to exchange knowledge.  I got to see one of these gatherings this week.
I first became aware of this intriguing interest group several years ago through my friend Dan Shady.  Once a year he would disappear for a week to attend a metal shapers' get-together somewhere in the midwest.  The early history of these gatherings is described on the metalmeet site.  In fact, much to my surprise, I learned that the very first such gathering, FormFest 2001, took place right in my backyard in Huntsville, AL!  These gatherings have now proliferated and take place in lots of locations around the world.  I'm sure that the expansion of TV shows related to automobile and motorcycle fabrication has expanded public awareness in the metalworking craft.
One of the people who hosts a metalworking event is Kerry Pinkerton of Harvest, AL.  This week, about 15 metalworkers from as far away as Sweden assembled at Kerry's home for the "DixieLand Metal Shapers Gathering."  Kerry's lawn becomes a parking lot, with trucks, trailers, and RVs everywhere.  Dan Pate, from Minnesota, is a regular attendee at this event and hauls a huge gas-fired griddle on which he cooks breakfast every morning of the 5-day assembly.  Steve Hamilton travels all the way from Fond du Lac, WI.  A family from Rockford, MI, was in attendance.  Another gentleman, Brent Click, came from Greenville, SC.  And of course there was Per, whose last name I never learned, all the way from Avesta, Sweden.  Per has a website displaying some of his work.  One of my favorites is his homemade motorcycle helmet:

Dan Shady treated the gathered clan to a barbecue feast on Friday night and invited me, for which I am grateful.  The food and fellowship were both great.  Dan's son, Deron, and grandson, Daniel, were both there and I enjoyed seeing them.  The group had a tool exchange, in which every participant makes and donates a tool for another member.  There was an abundance of good will and camaraderie   The projects were so varied as to defy description.

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