Black Pot Cook-Off & Cowboy Poetry – The Period Artisans
Old Town Clovis hosted the First Annual Black Pot Cook Off and Cowboy Poetry Event on April 22, 2012. The weather was beautiful, if not a little hot, and the streets of Clovis were buzzing with the sounds of chefs preparing their Black Pot entries, fiddlers fiddling and Period Artisans working their crafts.
Ree and Perry Coy, a husband and wife team, were two of the Period Artisans who came out to the Event, each sharing their craft and wealth of information with passersby. They were a great addition to the event and Ree could be heard calling out to people, “Come and sit a spell!” She reported that some came closer and sat down on a hay bale to watch her skills, while others were too shy.
Ree has been chair and furniture caning for thirteen years, working out of her home in Clovis. She was taught by Master Caner, Bob Petithomme of Angel Camp, CA. She loves to restore and replace the caning of treasured family heirlooms and has demonstrated this craft at the Fresno Historical Society’s Civil War Revisited at Kearney Park, which is held in October www.valleyhistory.org. Ree stated, “Being a long time Clovisite, I love supporting my community,” and is excited for the 2013 Black Pot Cook Off.
Perry has been a wood turner for fifteen plus years, producing vases, platters, wine stoppers and pen and pencil sets. He was spotted at the Black Pot Cook Off wearing his custom made Wooden Cowboy Hat! He proudly wore this hat during the event and told us that he makes several a year, painstakingly measuring and shaping each one to perfectly fit the new owner – all from a single block of wood! He really enjoys harvesting his own wood from local/native trees (such as olive, ash, oak, maple, manzanita, etc.) and burls. He is a member of Sequoia Wood Turners. Perry’s work can be found at Clovis’ Art & Jewelry and Fresno’s Twee, All Things Fresno, and Hands On Art at the Fresno Water Tower.
The addition of Period Artisans to this event added a feeling of “Old West” authenticity and we are thankful to Ree and Perry for coming out to our inaugural event and look forward to seeing them again next year!
Reuel Darling was another Period Artisan who came out to the Black Pot Cook Off with his team of blacksmiths. Braving the already high temperatures, Reuel and his team demonstrated working with even hotter iron.
Reuel is the creator of Darling Forge Works in Watts Valley, where he works on ornamental iron works, which can be found in local homes in details including candelabra, fire screens, railings, banisters, light fixtures, doors, gates and garden fences. He has been doing ornamental iron work since he retired from horse shoeing in the mid-nineties. His shoeing career began with his formal training in farrier science from Ralph Hoover at Cal Poly at San Luis Obispo in 1958. He trained and plated race horses on the California fair circuit for ten years before settling down in Fresno with his own farrier practice.
He eventually branched out to teaching shoeing and operated a successful farrier school in Clovis from the mid 1970’s to the late 1980’s. In 1978 he organized the first North American Challenge Cup Futurity Horseshoeing Contest. He was also inducted into The International Horseshoeing Hall of Fame, which honors farriers around the world who have made significant contributions to the profession and who have left a positive permanent impression on their peers and clients. He continues to serve in the American and Western States Farrier’s Association as a judge.
The National Ornamental Miscellaneous Metals Association has recognized Reuel and awarded him with multiple gold medal awards for his distinctive railings and fences. Most recently for his designs which were featured in the magazine “The Fabricator”. Reuel’s work can be seen locally at the Clovis Botanical Gardens on Clovis Avenue where visitors can see his stunning wrought iron entry gate with a three dimensional depiction of poppies.
Reuel can be found most days turning out works of art at his Watts Valley Forge and we are grateful that he and his team of blacksmiths took time out of their very busy, creative schedule to share their work with us at the Black Pot Cook Off.
*Information Sourced from The Clovis Roundup
Black Pot Period Artisan, Chris Potzernitz, comes from a long line of Saddle Makers. His grandfather, Steve Potzernitz, became an apprentice in 1900 at the age of 12 in Hungary. Steve moved to Fresno in 1933 where he went to work for A.D. Colliver & Son and in 1938 Steve’s son Joe joined the business.
In 1946, after a stint as a Navy Pilot, Joe and Steve purchased A.D. Colliver & Son and renamed it “Potzernitz & Sons”. As is the case in many family businesses, Chris joined in 1958 washing windows, cleaning saddles and harnesses, and sweeping the floors. At the same time he was learning to make “waxed ends”. Chris stated that “While working alongside my grandfather Steve and father Joe I have learned a craft that is as much art as craftsmanship.”
Today Potzernitz & Sons promotes “Fine Leather Goods Made to Order; Horse and Mule Equipment for Riding, Packing & Harness.” They specialize in Western Saddles, custom silver work and repair, parade equipment and museum quality restoration. During the event visitors were able to watch Chris tooling a leather saddle and many items were available for immediate purchase at his booth.
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