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August 12, 2020

7/8/2020 12:22:00 PM
Local smithy honored by state group
Ray Sease  shows off the state award he received last month for service to the Indiana Blacksmithing Association. He was the founder of the local organzation which operates out of the blacksmith shop in Vernon.—Staff Photo by Barbara King
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Ray Sease shows off the state award he received last month for service to the Indiana Blacksmithing Association. He was the founder of the local organzation which operates out of the blacksmith shop in Vernon.—Staff Photo by Barbara King
Ray Sease, the man who fired up the local blacksmithing scene, was recognized for his dedication and commitment to this centuries old craft last month.

Indiana Black-smithing Association (IBA) Awards Chairman Brad Weaver presented the Paul Moffett Service Award at the Vernon blacksmith shop. He pointed out Ray founded the Vernon group "and has kept it together all of these years. He has helped countless blacksmiths along the way. This was long overdue. Thank you, Ray, and congratulations."

Sease has been working with hot metal for some 30 years-plus. At one time, there were 4000 regular blacksmiths in the U.S., he says, with 2000 supporting themselves with this work. While many would be surprised at this number, Sease laughed and said blacksmiths "are kinda like termites; You don't see them until they come out."

He came to this craft through muzzleloading, which he got into about 30 years ago. Through his association with these modern frontiersmen and by watching blacksmiths at Friend-ship, he became interested in learning forging and shaping metal into utilitarian and artistic forms.

He also discovered one of his great uncles was "a high end blacksmith" who made wagons and buggies.

To get started, Ray purchased an anvil and proceeded, he says with a laugh, to "make a lot of junk." Before long, he set up at the Vernon festival and met Chris Asher and Peg Percifield, who were mainstays at the Labor Day Festival for years. The women got Sease and a few others interested in firing up the old blacksmith shop behind their North American House Museum which had not been used since the 60's.

Sease took the hammer and ran with it. Today, the Vernon chapter of the IBA meets on the second Saturday April through November from 9 to 10 a.m. with hands-on demos, instructions and work continuing afterwards. Since the pandemic, though, the schedule has been decided month by month since "Most of us are older people and we're a big target for that stuff."

If you are interested in attending or learning more about the craft, call the Historical Society to check meeting status or go to the indianablacksmithing.org website.

The organization is also known for its school tours. "We've had thousands of kids go through here," he said about the local blacksmith shop. "Our main focus is getting younger people involved. We've been very successful at that."

Ray's latest work is metal flowers, which he will be selling on E-bay and at local festivals. He formerly accepted commissions, with his favorite being a 14 foot high entranceway complete with gargoyles for a local home.

As far as the Paul Moffett Service Award goes, he is not so sure he really deserved it.

"I got it and I'm gonna live with it," he says matter-of-factly. "I'm really happy they gave it to me. He (Moffett) was such a good man."





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