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Mendhi hands by Pushpa Jain. Photographer unknown. All rights reserved.Fish decoy. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Embroidered dress detail. Photo by Pearl Yee Wong. All rights reserved.Cedar bird by Glen VanAntwerp. Photo by Al Kamuda. All rights reserved.
Michigan Heritage Awards

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Herb Nehring
2008 awardee, Kalamazoo (Kalamazoo County), Blacksmith

Herb Nehring (b. 1918) is a highly acclaimed machinist and metalworker, specializing in blacksmithing and farrier work. In 1936 at the age of 18 he took a class in agriculture after which he attended Michigan State College and worked part time assisting blacksmiths and repairing wagons. Eventually he enrolled in farrier school, learning to forge tools, make horseshoes, and general blacksmithing. When he finished school he worked as a farrier, servicing the southwest corner of the state. In the 1980s he made trips to other blacksmiths to observe and interview them about their differing practices.

In 1982 Nehring retired and joined Tillers International whose focus is the utilization of 19th century American agricultural animal traction power and machinery practices to improve agriculture in third-world countries. Here his blacksmithing skills are highly valued and he has conducted blacksmithing classes and developed public demonstration and exhibition programs. In 1994 Herb Nehring traveled to Uganda as part of a Tiller's training mission to teach 40 agricultural extension personnel about draft animal training, woodworking and blacksmithing.

For most of his life, Herb Nehring has been involved in both formal and informal educational classes, public exhibitions, and organized demonstrations of traditional blacksmithing practices. He is honored with a Michigan Heritage Award for his mastery in and continued, unfaltering dedication to the traditions of blacksmithing.

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