For all you have given of yourself, both in time and knowledge, for your many years of service to the organization, and for your enthusiasm for the craft of blacksmithing, the membership of the Guild of Metalsmiths present to you this, the highest honor to be given by the Guild, now, and to others in the future in your name.
The Guild of Metalsmiths
History of The Guild's Highest Honor, The Juaire-Hubler Award
David Mariette (Guild President 1997-98 / 2003-04) recalls: My history with Ollie Juaire and Paul Hubler was not as lengthy as some of the others in this group. I was a pup in the blacksmithing world when I began to know either of these two men. I was better acquainted with Ollie than Paul, but each brought their own enthusiasm for the craft in different ways. The nature of blacksmithing as we know it today has changed, or maybe better phrased, evolved since those early days of transition from the utilitarian blacksmith to the artist blacksmith. Blacksmithing, a craft that has been evolving, and changing over time for the last couple millennium, continues to do so.
To do either of these two men justice, one has to take a look back a decade or three just to gain some perspective. Blacksmithing, as we look at it today, has a much different look to the outside world than it did in, say, the mid-twentieth century. My grandfather, as he came out of World War I, was employed by the Sioux Line Railroad as a blacksmith. He worked in an open building out in the yard at the Shoreham Shops in Northeast Minneapolis year-round making grab bars and step bars for box cars and such. Then there were the industrial blacksmiths in the factories and steel mills that did larger and heavier forgings. There were the rural blacksmiths whose focus was agricultural in nature, and everything in between. To openly say to anyone that you were a blacksmith in that time frame was not a glorious avocation, unlike today. When I tell someone that I'm a blacksmith I seem to be held in much higher regard for whatever reason.
As the steel mills in the US began to scale back or even shut down, as the rural blacksmith began to transition from plowshares to some type of manufacturing or shut down altogether, and as the railroads began their own transition, the days of the blacksmith were waning. Then came the artist blacksmith; a group of people that saw the potential of forging to become a vibrant medium for art in and of itself.
In the absence of places to learn the craft of blacksmithing, these enthusiastic individuals sought the expertise of some of those elders to build their own skills. Moving into the later part of the twentieth century, the artist blacksmith movement began, and as well, the founding of The Guild of Metalsmiths.
Ollie Juaire being one of those men employed as a blacksmith that sharpened and maintained heavy drill bits for well drilling, and Paul Hubler being a craftsman applying his skills in very creative ways, began to actively share their time, knowledge, and experience to all of us wishing to learn the craft of blacksmithing. It was people like Ollie Juaire and Paul Hubler that enthusiastically made major contributions to that reality.
The question then becomes: why is this award given in their honor? Why Ollie and Paul? Were they the best blacksmiths? That would be subjective, but I would submit, no. They were good at what they did. They both did clever and interesting work. Will they be heralded in the annals of blacksmithing history as supreme virtuosos of their craft? Not likely. However, their enthusiasm for the craft was as contagious as it was exemplary. We lost them way too soon. They both passed within a very short time of each other. Ollie had his struggle with Alzheimer's disease, and Paul with a very aggressive pancreatic cancer.
Many of us will happily share many stories of Paul and Ollie and our experiences with them. Most of those exchanges were modest in nature. For example: Ollie would occasionally stop by our shop in Rosemount just to see what we were all up to. During those times I was so broke I struggled just paying my shop rent and was eating ramen noodles that I could buy at the store, five for a buck. During one of Ollie's visits back in 1994 I was having difficulty drilling holes in some steel because all of my drill bits were dull. He said, "Just sharpen them!" He proceeded to instruct me as to how to sharpen a drill bit. During my lesson he asked if I was going to the ABANA conference. I responded by saying no, I just couldn't swing it financially. As we wrapped up he wrote me a check for $300, told me to get my registration in, and said, "pay me back when you can." He fronted The Guild seed money for early Fall Conferences (Metal Madnesses). He helped many aspiring blacksmiths with everything from shop set-up, to acquisition of anvils.
Paul Hubler, I did not know as well. He had experiences of similar nature with many other smiths at the time, as well as passing on learned forging techniques. He took a job with Jack Brubaker in Indiana forging crafted artistic items. Even though he was not present here in Minnesota, he would make and send clever little sculptural pieces to The Guild to be sold at auction during the fall conferences. I would defer to others to share more stories about Paul as I did not know him as well.
Losing these two men in such a short period of time was impactful. It inspired us, the board of directors at the time, to honor them and all that follow in their footsteps by establishing a memorial in the form of the Juaire-Hubler Award.
Pete Stanaitis recorded Ollie Juaire in action many years ago and has posted the video online: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MF3cElI3AoU
The Guild of Metalsmiths President’s Award
In recognition for your outstanding contributions made in support of the Guild and its membership. Our organization would not be what it is without your selfless gifts of time, support and enthusiasm. Your service and continued dedication stand as an example for us all.
NOT ALL GREAT WORKS ARE WROUGHT OF IRON
|Ollie Juaire / Paul Hubler
|Bob Fredell / Pete Stanaitis
|Irma Carlson / Claudette Krawczeski