West Coast Horn Fair 2012 Report


An enthusiastic group of people gathered in Morro Bay, California on Friday and Saturday, April 27 and 28, 2012. It was hosted by John and Linda Shorb, owners of Powder Horns and More.

Visitors at the display tables

Participants and visitors were from Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and many parts of California. At 10 AM, Scott Morrison and John Shorb played their blowing horn serenade across the floor of the hall. This signaled the opening of the West Coast Horn Fair.

Examples Steve Vance brought for his talk

Steve Vance gave a two-hour talk on historic types of scrimshaw. He gave many illustrations and had several horns that showcased his topic. He discussed historical viewpoint, tips on achieving a better appearance, and the layout of scenes on a horn.

Steve Skillman at his table before his presentation

Next, Steve Skillman presented a talk about the specialized tools he uses in his horn work. High points included the thought of heating and bending files, the use of pen mills to square horn tips, and examples of many of the files Steve uses in his work. Ace Hardware is not the last place one should look for files. They are available from many other sources.

John Shorb teaching his class on blowing horns

John Shorb then discussed blowing horns. The size and thickness of the tip of a blowing horn is a major concern, as it has to be big enough to work with. He uses a hole saw to shape the outer edge of the mouthpiece and a pen mill to drill the inner recess.

A Dremel tool can be used to contour the inside of the mouthpiece. After that, it is just sand and polish.

Steve Skillman, Don Kerr and Steve Vance before the class on period correct horn repair.

Most of us gathered at Dorn’s Breakers Restaurant for dinner and great fellowship. We had a private dining room for our use. The food was fantastic, and the conversations were even better.

Horn examples for John Shorb’s class on horn selection and what makes a good or a bad horn.

Scott and John again provided a rousing chorus on their blowing horns, signaling the start of classes for the next day.

John Shorb discussed several topics, the first of which was shop safety. Keeping the eyes, ears and fingers all attached and in good working order is a prerequisite for happy horn making. Dust control and protection was also stressed. Next, he talked about horn selection, not trying to turn ugly horns into pretty powder horns, appropriate sizes, and right and left-side carry horns. He also discussed the first steps he takes in making a powder horn and the tools he uses, and why those steps are taken.

Scott Morrison talking on The placement of rings panels and grooves.

Scott Morrison next talked about The Golden Mean concept and how it figures into horn design. He discussed how to lay out horns for the placement of rings, panels, and grooves. The concept is to divide the horn into 8 segments, the body will comprise 5 segments and the neck will be 3. The old saying, “The eye don’t lie!” tells it all. If it doesn’t look right, it isn’t

Some participants attending the class on horn finishes.

After another Divine Catering lunch we waddled back into the class room for a round table discussion led by Scott Morrison and Steve Skillman on various horn finishes and finishing techniques. RIT dyes, potassium permanganate, acids, and natural dyes like walnut stain; berries, onionskins, etc were discussed.

A small part of the Horn books that Jim Hayden brought and discussed.

Next, our itinerate book peddler, Jim Hayden, discussed some of the many books available on the subject of powder horns. He left us all with a great bibliography on the subject and a CD filled with engraving scenes suitable for horn work.

In final session we talked about next year’s West Coast Horn Fair. We will try to implement many of the new ideas. It will be held on April 26 and 27th, 2013 in either Washington or Oregon. Details will be posted in the Powder Horns and More newsletter and www.westcoasthornfair.com.

Our Banquet

Finishing off the event was a banquet fit for a king. A crew from Cayucos Community Church came in, prepared a sumptuous feast. They cooked tri-tip roasts on the barbecue pit. And in addition they served a spring mix salad, oven cooked rice pilaf and candied carrots. For desert, there was a sheet cake with the West Coast Horn Fair logo powder horn on it.

The grand prize winner of the NMLRA 1 of 1000 print by David Wright.

Tickets for the Raffle prizes were drawn, and there were many happy winners. About half were from mail in tickets and the other half were bought at the event.

In closing, I would like to thank all the people who registered and attended, and the people who bought raffle tickets. Steve Vance, Steve Skillman, Scott Morrison, and Jim Hayden did a great job of making presentations. Thanks to my wife, Linda Shorb, who puts up with me on a daily basis. Without her, this would not have come about. The event was informative, successful and loads of fun. Hope to see you next year.


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