Ernie Dorrill & Steve Williamson
- Ernie Dorrill
- Steve Williamson
Ernie Dorrill hails from Canton, Mississippi where he is retired from a career as an architect. He took up the blacksmithing craft in the mid 1990's after watching George Dixon at work. This style of metalwork appealed to him, so he spent some time with George, Tom Latane and Carl Close learning their type of blacksmithing. Ernie considers himself to be "beyond the beginner stage" and practices the craft as a hobby.
The primary type of blacksmithing work that Ernie does is classic gothic or renaissance which was popular during the 13th through the 17th century. The style includes hot forging, hot and cold chasing, piercing and repousse. He also uses layering, fitting, traditional joinery, and filing, but no forge welding. Forms and figures are highly detailed and in high relief. Some shaping is done with the treadle hammer and some is done by hand.
Although the original masters performing this type of work generally used wrought iron, Ernie uses mild steel sheet and bar stock. Design and tooling are some of the greatest challenges of this type of work and he considers it the most intriguing and challenging endeavor of his life. Pushing past the limits is always on his mind.
Ernie has demonstrated at the Alabama Forge Council's Tannehill Conference and the Indiana Blacksmiths' Conference, and has conducted workshops for the Alabama Forge Council. He has taught and demonstrated for his local blacksmiths and is scheduled to teach at the John C. Campbell Folk School in early 2012. His style of demonstrating includes electronic media and written material in addition to moving metal. Humor is used as a teaching tool as well.
This is not a style of work that we see very often, so bring your notebooks and be prepared to be entertained and exposed to a level of craftsmanship and design that is beyond the normal hammer and anvil. Ernie is dedicated to passing these skills along at every opportunity and his demonstration will reflect that dedication.
Steve and his wife Vicky live in the countryside outside Columbia, Tennessee. His interest in the blacksmithing craft stemmed from a four-year apprenticeship as a millwright in the middle 1980's and continued throughout his 30-year career in the automotive industry. He is an accomplished blacksmith in the architectural, functional, and ornamental fields, and recently completed a five-year restoration project at the Nashville TN City Cemetery. He also completed handrails for the James K. Polk home in Columbia, TN. Since retiring from his automotive career, Steve does commission work for clients from his shop at home, teaches at various venues, and demonstrates at conferences and blacksmith meetings.
His formal blacksmith training was largely at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC and at the Tennessee Technological University's Appalachian Center for Crafts at Smithville, TN. He studied under instructors such as Clay Spencer and Darryl Nelson, as well as being self-taught. Steve is a regular at the invitation-only "Work Week" at the Folk School where he lead the effort to assemble and install the handrails in the recently-opened Clay Spencer Blacksmith Shop, and is a recipient of the Francis Whitaker Scholarship for the Advanced Traditional Joinery Class at the Folk School.
Steve is also an experienced demonstrator, having demonstrated at such events as the 2002 Hot Iron Muster in Brisbane, Australia, the Alabama Forge Council's Tannehill Conference, Mississippi Forge Council's Annual Conference, and numerous others. His "down to earth" style of demonstrating is forceful, detailed, and educational for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced blacksmith. Animal heads have become one of the frequent items demonstrated, and his dragons are legendary throughout the blacksmith community.
Steve is a past president of the Appalachian Area Chapter of Blacksmiths and former board member of the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America. His demonstration will be a great opportunity to get some "up close and personal" instruction and experience a unique style of demonstrating the blacksmith's craft.
Conference Forging Station
A.P. Billingsley memorial forge + David Oliver memorial anvil.
- Jack Wheeler
Jack currently teaches an annual class at the JCCFS and has taught at the Appalachian Center for Craft. He also teaches weekly at the Choo Choo Forge where he currently serves a president.
He has demonstrated at many of the regional blacksmith organizations in the Southeast and at a number of events sponsored by the AACB. The Jim Alexander Family Flower group project at the 2011 Madison Conference was led by Jack.
As a very active member of the blacksmith community he is heavily involved in AACB activities, provides articles for the chapter newsletter and leads fundraising efforts. One of his main goals in life is to show his appreciation for the friendship, learning opportunities and awesome experiences with the blacksmith community.