December 1st, 2023

The Second Annual Metal Arts Gift Show

A person with a leather apron hammers on hot metal on an anvil.
Gary Johnson, one of the blacksmiths at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center.
Photo by David Bates.

Early in 2022, silversmith and jeweler Maggie Bowman was missing her artist friends after two years of pandemic quarantine, so she rallied them together and launched the first ever local metal arts gift show out at the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center.

It was an instant success, emerging like an event already fully formed. More than 800 people showed up at the December show to buy locally made art as holiday gifts, which astonished Bowman. 

“I did an exit survey, and every artist said, ‘Yes, 100 percent, do it again,’ said Bowman. “I said one day or two? Half of them said two days, half said one day. If I get 800 people this year in one day, I’ll do it two days next year. I just want to make sure it’s not a flash in the pan, but I don’t think it is.”

And so once again, heading into the holidays, there’s a perfect opportunity to shop local by supporting local artists and artisans. Thirty artists are on board for the second annual Metal Arts Gift Show, an all-day event on Saturday, Dec. 9, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Bowman’s event lands right behind Handmade Holidays, also at the center, with 35 vendors Saturday, Dec. 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 2, noon to 4 p.m. 

Both events are an occasion to drop by the cozy blacksmith’s shop on the property, where seasoned smiths like Dale Turner can show you, in about 90 seconds or less, how to turn a piece of red-hot steel into something utilitarian or decorative. 

“It just depends on how creative you want to get,” Turner said, who is among the smiths out here who has trained others on the anvil, including Bowman. “You can just go crazy with this stuff.”

“It’s good for the soul, you know?” Bowman said. “I had a T-shirt last summer that said, ‘I light things on fire and hit them with big hammers.’”

The metal arts show is sponsored by William Henry Knives and will include plenty of  jewelers, but it’s not just a “jewelry palooza,” Bowman said. You’ll also find bladesmiths, coppersmiths, sculptors, armorists, and artisans who work with bronze, reclaimed metal and also CAD demonstrations. Newberg’s Anvil Academy will be represented. Most are local, and many you won’t find easily online, or they don’t sell online. 

“When you come out here, everything is authentic, it’s real, you meet the person who made it,” said Bowman. “It’s not shipped from overseas and the artist is there to talk to. It’s hands-on.” 

The Yamhill Valley Heritage Center is ADA accessible and located at 11275 S.W. Durham Lane just south of McMinnville along Highway 18. Cost is $5 cash or a donation of five cans of food for YCAP, the local Oregon Food Bank affiliate. Plan to bring cash if you want to buy; not all vendors are set up for credit cards.

A cartoon of David Bates

David Bates (he/him) is a McMinnville writer who has appeared in Gallery Theater productions since 1998.