Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Masons Exceed Expectations at 2015 Contest

The Masonry Heater Association Annual Contest was held in April at Wildacres Retreat, Little Switzerland, North Carolina. Masons and craftsmen were asked to present their best work in three categories: Masonry, Bake Ovens, and Masonry Heaters. There were three trophies awarded in each category. This year, some of the best work yet seen was entered in the contest. 

Each entrant was required to take before, during, and after photos, and provide a detailed explanation and description of the project and materials used for judges to examine. Judges did not know who did the work in order to assure fairness in the contest. Some entrants missed placing by only one point, and all of the projects submitted were top quality, demonstrating the outstanding craftsmanship of the participants.

Materials used in the designs were varied and used in unique ways. Entrants used such products as custom-cut steel, stone, brick, and custom-fired clay Kachels in their work.  

There were 16 entries from several countries, including the United States, Canada, Scotland, and Germany. Attendees and instructors at the MHA annual meeting came from all over the world. 

Masonry Category:
First Place
: Derek Kowalchuck, Fiddlerock Masonry, Edmonton, Alberta, CA
Second Place: Jeff Owens, JTO Masonry Construction, Riverview, MI
Third Place: Ryan McCutchan, Homboldt Hearthstones, Blue Lake, CA

Bake Oven Category
Tie for First Place: Jessica Steinhauser, Stonehouse Pottery, Guelph, Ontario, CA
Tie for First Place: Martin Swift, Swift Masonry, Sooke, B.C., CA
Second Place: Jeff Owens, JTO Masonry Construction, Riverview, MI

Masonry Heater Category:
First Place:
Dave Wilcox, Wilcox Masonry, Wapakoneya, OH
Second Place: Martin Ruzicka, Stovemason Masonry Heater Builders, Ardovie Lodge, Brechin,Scotland
Third Place: Axel Schmitz, Masonry FireTube, Elterlein, Germany

The Masonry Heater Association of North America holds this contest annually. Only members of the MHA may enter the contest. Contact Richard Smith, Executive Director of the MHA at 850-883-0191 or email for more information about the MHA.
Photos for all of these projects are on the MHA website at and may be used by the media with credit to the owner and the MHA. 

The MHA is a non-profit organization of builders and manufacturers of masonry heaters and masonry wood-fired bake ovens whose purpose is to promote the industry, sponsor research and development, shape regulations, standards and codes, inform and educate the public, and further the expertise and professionalism of its membership. Some of the best masons and related craftsmen/women in the world are members of the MHA. 

The MHA sponsors professional educational programs in the U.S. and Canada throughout the year, and members also offer private workshops and schools. The association has an annual meeting in North Carolina where industry professionals share different construction techniques. The MHA certifies Heater Masons, and will soon offer a certification program for oven builders. Currently there are 33 Certified Heater Masons in the United States and Canada. Books on masonry heaters, bake ovens, and masonry are available on the MHA website. 

Contact Marge Padgitt, contest organizer at or 816-461-3665 for questions about the contest. 

See the photos here:

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