Here you will find RocAFC instructor information for welding, glass working, and blacksmithing. Click on the icons below to view Instructor biographies. Look for more updates to come. If you have any additional questions feel free to email the RocAFC Studio Manager:  


Candace Martens: RocAFC Blacksmithing Director:  Candace is the current President of the New York State Designer Blacksmiths (NYSDB). She has been since 2006 and has formal training in blacksmithing, bladesmithing, Japanese Metal working, Coppersmithing, enameling, and jewelry making. Some of her creations include home wares, letter openers, flower and leaves, blacksmithing tools and jewelry. As a former Civil Engineer, she is captivated by metallurgy and the science behind the entire heat treat process.  Candace is currently working towards her Journeyman status with the American Bladesmith Society. Candace has also demonstrated at many local events as well as the New York State Fair. Candace can be contacted at:

Richard Rightmyer:  Richard has over thirty five years experience as a knife maker with both stock removal and blacksmith forging methodologies. He attended both the NRA knife making class at RIT instructed by Bill Moran, an ABS Mastersmith, and the American Bladesmithing School in Washington, AK.

Brian Martens:  Brian has been forging since 2005 and is the current treasurer of the New York State Designer Blacksmiths and the Co-Forgemaster of the Genesee Region which meets monthly at the RocAFC shop.  He has training in forging woodworking tools, blacksmithing, Japanese Metalwork, coppersmithing, enameling, and bladesmithing.  Some of Brian's creations include custom woodworking tools for use in his home shop, light fixtures, home wares such as corkscrews and copper bowls, letter openers, decorative roses, knives, blacksmithing tools. Brian also teaches the martial art of Aikido and finds great parallels between the ergonomics of hammering and sword work.  Curious? Read more about the crossover of martial arts and blacksmithing here.

Tom O'Connor:  Tom is a retired engineer and has forged continuously since his retirement in 2012.  He currently serves as Co - Forgemaster of The Genesee Region of New York State Designer Blacksmiths which meets monthly at the RocAFC shop. Tom has demonstrated at NYSDB monthly meetings, The Cobblestone Festival, and at the New York State Fair.  He has studied with Peter Ross, David Robertson, Alan Kress, and Brian Brazeal.  A jack of all trades, if you have a question on how to do something, he generally knows the answer.

Richard Renker: As a former professional farrier, Richard has approximately 30 years of forging experience. After retiring from his horseshoeing career he turned his attention to general blacksmithing.  Richard's specialty is making lamps and other items from recycled horseshoes as well as general useful and decorative items from new steel. These items include s-hooks, napkin rings, book/picture holders, yard art, door handles, candle holders and other assorted items.  Aside from instructing blacksmithing at RoCAFC, he has demonstrated at the New York State Fair for the past several years, is member of the New York State Designer BlacksmithsArtist Blacksmiths Association of North America, and the Southern Ohio Forge and Anvil groups.

William Banker:  William has been actively smithing for twenty years. He was employed as a mechanical engineer in the railroad industry specializing in brake, truck, and coupler design and applications. Bill discovered blacksmithing when taking a beginners course at the French Fort in Liverpool, NY. Since then, he has taken dozens of blacksmithing classes. Bill has been a demonstrator at the New York State Fair for the last fourteen years. Some of his teaching assignments have included the New York State Designer Blacksmiths GLIFF conference, Benjamin Patterson Inn, and NYSDB regional meetings. 

John Fee:  When he and his wife stopped at the Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts on their way to Maine in 1996, they went into a blacksmith shop and watched the craftsman work. John instantly became hooked. He joined ABANA and took his first blacksmith course at the John C. Campbell school in 1997. He then joined the NYSDB and became forge master and the official event planner for the Southern Tier Region. John currently engages in demonstrations for several museums and county fairs, including the New York State fair. He takes great satisfaction in taking junk yard steel and making something useful, beautiful, or both. 

Additional Blacksmithing Instructors:

  • Kyle Beach
  • Mike Houser
  • Henry Offerman
  • Mike Nelson
  • Brian Brazeal 

In Memoriam:

John Rausch:  John was an artistic blacksmith and coppersmith. He worked metal since 1992 and taught Blacksmithing and Coppersmithing at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. He was an honored member of both the New York State Designer Blacksmiths and the Artist Blacksmith Association of North America.  We said farewell to John in 2013 in a packed service at the RocAFC.  As part of his legacy, his family donated his library and tool collection to the NYSDB for use at the Rochester Arc and Flame Center.  John was a strong advocate of taking classes and a mentor to many of our instructors.