ABANA 2017 Board of Directors

The Artist-Blacksmith’s Association of North America, Inc. (ABANA) is run by a board of 15 directors elected by the membership. These elected volunteers serve as officers, committee chairpersons and members of committees. Five of the 15 directors are elected each year for a three-year term.
Business meetings of the ABANA Board are held annually near the 15th of November. On the even years, an additional meeting is held at the ABANA international conference in typically June or July. Between meetings, business is conducted by phone, mail, fax, and email.


ABANA Board Elections

Each year 5 board members are elected for a 3 year term.

To run for election, one is required to be an ABANA member in good standing and provide the following:

  • A nominating petition signed by at least 10 ABANA members,
  • A photograph
  • A candidate statement

Submitted to the central office by the deadline date: April 15 ( extended to May 15 for 2017)

All candidates who meet this deadline will be listed on the official ballot form.

All candidates statements will be published on this web site as they are available.
Candidates meeting all the criteria above by the Apr 15 editorial deadline for the magazine will also have candidates statements published in the Anvil’s Ring.


Sep 1, 2016: Notice of election published in Vol 44 No 4 Fall 2015 The Anvil’s Ring

May 15, 2017: Nominations deadline – Candidate’s statements will be published in Vol 45 No 3 Summer 2016 Anvil’s Ring

Jun 1, 2017: Candidate Statements and Ballots Published in Vol 45 No 3 Summer 2017 Anvil’s Ring

Aug 15, 2017: Ballot postmark deadline, submitted to:

ABANA Central Office
259 Muddy Fork Road
Jonesborough, TN 37659

September 2017: Notification to elected Board members

November 2017: Board Meeting (Specific place and time to be determined) New Board members assume their duties.


2017 Candidate Statements


Thomas J Owens – Ripon, CA

I joined the California Blacksmith Association (CBA) in 2009 after becoming fascinated with the skills and art of blacksmithing.  I started buying and making tools immediately. In 2011, I became the Treasurer of the CBA and hold that position today. I joined ABANA in 2014 and helped with the 2016 Salt Lake City Conference. In fact, I did most of the work in creating the Program that many of you kept as a memento of the event. 

After getting involved in the Blacksmithing community my lifelong interest in art started to swell in my heart and I returned to school and obtained a Bachelor of Art degree in studio art, emphasizing in sculpture. I also hold an AS in Computer Graphic Art.

I watch over the CBA’s money very diligently and take that job seriously.  I have also been on the committee that overhauled our website and our member management software. We are also developing an online store for the CBA which we will have up and running soon.

Outside of the blacksmithing community I am a registered Civil Engineer and Licensed Land Surveyor and am self-employed which allows me to spend the time I feel necessary to fulfill the positions I have been honored to be bestowed.

If confirmed to the ABANA board you will see my attention to the betterment of the Association.  I have an analytical mind but can think out of the box. Thank you for this consideration.


Mark Kochan – Placerville, CA

My education in the metal arts started over fifty years ago. My brother and I cut my sister’s car in half with a cutting torch. It was less than successful, but a great beginning! I have been cutting, welding, casting and sculpting metal on and off for most of my professional life.  My blacksmithing   apprenticeship began after I retired. I volunteered at a Historic State Park about ten years ago. After a few years I became the lead smith and later a California Blacksmith Association Level III  Instructor. I have been an ABANA member for about ten years. At one time I was a guest editor on Anvils Ring (vol 37, #4. p. 38), contributing several articles about blacksmith shops from California to Pennsylvania. I have met and exchanged ideas about this craft with many of the members of this great organization. I have held the position of Chairman of Education for the California Blacksmith Association for the past two years and I have been been on the CBA Board of Directors for the past four years. Sharing all I have learned about event planning, organization, education and cutting torches with the ABANA organization seems like the logical next step. I welcome your support.



Jerry Veneziano – Mineral, VA

I’ve been blacksmithing pretty much my entire adult life.  I was one of the founding board members of the Central Virginia Blacksmith Guild, and have served in several roles for CVBG, including 2 terms as President.  I started a blacksmithing program at a school in coastal Virginia, and recently helped found a blacksmithing and metalsmithing school in Richmond, VA.  Finally, I’m helping bring an amazing ABANA Conference to Richmond, VA in 2018.

 As a member of the ABANA board, my focus would be on serving the needs of the average member, and constantly being an advocate for them.  I would promote increasing and improving open communication between the board and the membership, constantly looking for new and different avenues to make this happen.   I would look for ways to increase collaboration and cooperation with the Affiliates, while never forgetting and respecting their independent, sovereign status.  I would work to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of board operations, to serve the needs of the membership better.  Finally, there are many constituencies where the blacksmithing renaissance hasn’t yet taken root.  I would work to help ABANA reach these communities.


Eddie Rainey

Eddie Rainey- Milner, GA

This is my third year serving on the ABANA board, one year as Secretary and 2 years as President. I have been involved in a lot of challenging decisions and have been surrounded with a great team of dedicated board members who have equally met the challenge. I was able to meet a lot of the membership last year at Salt lake City and several major affiliate conferences that have expressed appreciation and support for what we have accomplished. My experience in blacksmithing and serving on the board has provided me with the confidence to continue to serve and fulfill my goals to make sure ABANA remains the premier blacksmith organization in the world.

With your support I will continue to provide our membership with the best publications, outstanding conferences and on line resources available. I am committed to our goals to connect with the membership and provide a platform for the changes that we all realize are evident to our success. I share a common understanding of what ABANA is and how we will be effective in the future to promote the art of blacksmithing.

Leigh Morrel

Leigh Morrell- Colrain, MA

I have been forging iron professionally for 47 years joining New England Blacksmiths at it’s second meet in 1979. I joined ABANA in 1981 and have been a continuous member. I have demonstrated at many venues as well as ABANA 1986 and 2000, taught smithing and welding skills, not only at other events, but also through classes in our shop since 1998 and have counted 6-7 former employees that now have their own shops. The skills I bring to ABANA – director in many venues; town government, church fellowship, and am currently a director and treasurer of New England Blacksmiths.

My primary objective in running for the ABANA board is to further the business aspects of running a successful business as well as building a networking capability within ABANA for the professional sector of this organization which is currently lacking. Having had to operate a business as sole income with my wife homeschooling our 5 children over a term of 28 years, I now have the available commitment time as two of my boys now own the business and I work part-time for them. I thank you for your consideration for ABANA board. Morrell Metalsmiths can be found on the Web as well as through Facebook.


Bruce Jarrell

Bruce Jarrell- Serverna Park, MD

I ask for your vote to re-elect me to the ABANA Board for a second term. It has been my pleasure to serve a first term and be part of a group of people dedicated to continuing the educational mission of ABANA. I have been honored to play roles on the Board that have furthered the image of blacksmiths and enhanced our mission. My main role has been to serve on the publications committee to work with the editors of our two magazines to maintain high quality publications. I have also been pleased to be part of a successful conference in Utah which I believe touched many young lives and hopefully planted a seed for future interest in our art. I have additionally served on the education committee, where we have awarded a number of grants for educational projects and seen the ABANA Foundation funds double in size. There will be many opportunities to use those funds wisely in support of those who need it, and I hope to help guide that. In summary, I am very committed to serving another term on the board and furthering our cause.

Linda Tanner

Linda Tanner- Amelia, VA

ABANA Members, I would like to be considered and would be honored to have your vote in this 2018 ABANA Election.
To share with you a little background about myself, I am the co/owner of Yesteryear Forge along with my husband Mike.
I have proudly served two previous terms on the ABANA Board of Directors as Treasurer.
I am also very proud to have been the Treasurer of two very successful conference’s, Memphis Tennessee and Rapid City South Dakota that yielded about $100,000.00 profit between them both.
Another program that I created was the ABANA Member Discount Program .
My interest will be with this term, to be involved in the daily operations of ABANA. My goal will be working with the board again to continue to move forward and gain strength in a positive direction. My mission will always be to look for ways to keep ABANA profitable and continue to be a healthy organization.
There has been a question asked to the members about WHY ABANA ? I say WHY NOT ABANA. We are a group of Blacksmiths , interested in keeping the noble art of Blacksmithing alive . WE ARE BLACKSMITHS FOR BLACKSMITHS. How can we go wrong with ABANA.
Thank You.


Carson Sams

Carson Sams- Partlow, VA

As a third generation farrier, the forge and the anvil are a way of life in my family. Hard work, courtesy, and respect – these are the values taught to me by my father. These values have served me well and made me the blacksmith and bladesmith I am today. I demonstrate and teach at various shows and festivals including the Virginia Renaissance Faire, Virginia State Fair (site of the 2018 ABANA conference), and numerous other venues. I enjoy entertaining and educating the public, doing what I call edutaining.

As a member of the ABANA board, I will strive to be a role model for the youth and try to further ABANA’s primary mission of education. Information, techniques, and secrets are available at our fingertips through social media such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and those media seem to have taken our place a teachers. It is time to bring one-on-one, hands-on training back into the picture for our members. There seems to be an insurgence by millenials to create with your hands. Let us show them how and be the front runners in the craftsmanship of blacksmithing again.