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Back row L to R: Anne Bujold, Caitlin Morris, Rachel David, Monica Coyne, Leslie Tharpe, Alice Garrett, Heather McLarty, Ryna Cady. Front row L to R: Lynda Metcalf, Lisa Geertsen, Ann Klicka. Photo courtesy of Society of Inclusive Blacksmiths © Michelle Smith-Lewis.

The Society of Inclusive Blacksmiths (SIBs) formed with the vision to build equity and foster diversity in the field of blacksmithing. Recently, CERF+ staff met with blacksmiths Joy Fire and Elizabeth Belz from the Society of Inclusive Blacksmiths. Joy is SIBs’s Digital Media Manager and General Communications Manager. Elizabeth is the Scholarship and Grant Coordinator and oversees Fundraising Development for SIBs.

SIBs is a young and active organization that began in 2018 when 11 female blacksmiths from across the United States were invited to the Cascadia Center for Arts and Crafts in Oregon to accomplish two goals. First, they created a collaborative project for the on-site sculpture garden. Second, they opened a discussion about issues of inclusivity in blacksmithing. Broadly skilled, these blacksmiths juggle multiple components of their professional careers, including creating both functional and sculptural work, teaching, and working with community education groups.

When asked what the reception to SIBs has been like, given that blacksmithing has historically been such a cis male-dominated field, Elizabeth said, “It’s actually been quite positive overall. We see support from many people, including men who have told us that they have felt the most supported and welcomed by the female blacksmiths that they know.”

Elizabeth Belz. Photo by Kim Ward.

So how exactly does SIBs foster diversity and equity? They offer mentorships, educational resources, grants, and events to empower and support the community and make a concerted effort to reduce the social and economic barriers to this critical work. SIBs’s efforts are already being realized as their intentional work creates dynamic change throughout the blacksmithing and greater craft community. Last year, SIBs received a $10,000 grant from the Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation and has already distributed $5,000 of that in tool and education grants to individuals in the community. It’s no surprise that SIBs is gaining attention with all of their momentum. SIBs has been featured in American Craft. In addition to some of their members referencing SIBs in Forbes and The Baltimore Sun.

To learn more about the Society of Inclusive Blacksmiths, follow them on Instagram @inclusive_blacksmiths

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