Mt. Vernon Register-News

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February 13, 2011

Belle Rive native earns 2010 IVBA/Janet Lorance Service Award

BELLE RIVE — For John Lovin, beauty is in both an object’s form and its function.

Lovin, a blacksmith, owns Auxier Creek Forge Blacksmith Shop in rural Belle Rive with his wife, Beth Lovin.

He said he has been smithing as a pastime for more than 30 years.

“I started out as a hobbyist, but about three years ago, we went full time as a business, and I guess you could say I was self-taught,” he said.

He said he was always interested in the historical crafts, and often attended places like the Jefferson County Historical Society where historical crafts were kept alive.

“Whenever I would go to a venue, I always gravitated to the blacksmith shops,” he said.

He took a class at Lincoln’s New Salem in Springfield in 1981, and said his interest and practice “snowballed” from there.

“The creative part is very fulfilling,” he said. “I get a lot of satisfaction from making things from iron. They call the blacksmiths the king of craftsmen, because we make the tools for other craftsmen. They’re the only ones who can make their own tools.

Though he was primarily self-taught, John said he learned as much as he could from old-fashioned blacksmith shops and their proprietors.

Beth said she finishes the pieces John forges by brushing and sanding them.

“He makes them, and I make them pretty,” she said.

She added that she has made several copper vases on her own as well.

Both John and Beth have other full-time jobs in addition to working in the forge; Beth is a legal secretary at Howard, Leggins, Piercy and Howard, and John is the facilities manager at Innertech in Nashville.

John and Beth attend several craft shows throughout the year, including the Cedarhurst Craft Fair and the annual Herb and Garden Show, to help sell their ironwork.

John said his ironwork pieces are almost always something functional, like tools for cooking over an open campfire or a shepherd’s hook for a garden.

“Everything we make has a practical use,” he said. “ ... My wife and I both work in the shop, she helps me finish and design. It’s definitely a partnership.”

John said he and his wife have been married for six years and met at their church.

“She didn’t know what a blacksmith was before we met, and now she is one,” he said.

John said he has been a member of the Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association since 1981, and has been editing the organization’s newsletter, “The Tuyere,” for about 20 years.

He said the reason he continues to edit the newsletter is because he enjoys sharing his love of blacksmithing and sharing the knowledge of the craft.

“I’ve really enjoyed working in the shop over the years,” he said. “I wanted to give back, and this is one way of doing it.”

At the annual meeting of the Illinois Valley Blacksmith Association in January, John was awarded with the 2010 IVBA Janet Lorance Service Award for his efforts as the newsletter editor.

He received an engraved solid gold pin from a fellow IVBA member, Mike Siegler, and a forged tong trophy jointly created by Scott Springer and Gary Jameson, information states.

“John has an extraordinary, long standing, unwavering dedication to the IVBA and to blacksmithing,” information states. “He has committed himself to sharing, exploring, teaching, learning and promoting the art of blacksmithing. As the editor of The Tuyere, he is certainly one of the hardest working members of the IVBA, creating the visial personification and documentation of the group.”

Beth said she was shocked when her husband’s name was announced during the award ceremony.

“I think I was as shocked by it as he was,” she said. “It was quite an honor. There’s a lot of work that goes into the newsletter, and he worked hard on it.”

John said it was very humbling for him to receive the award.

“I was totally surprised and very humbled that the organization would honor me that way,” he said. “The newsletter is a labor of love, I sure didn’t do it for recognition, but I was honored to receive it.”

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