Evesham Abbey Weathervanes – back on top!

An update on the four weathervanes from Evesham Abbey Bell Tower which came in to us for restoration late last year. Click here for the background to this fascinating restoration project.

Brought back to our Larkhall workshop once dismantled from the heady heights of the bell tower, the four pinnacles were carefully flame cleaned. Several minor repairs were made by the restoration team, which included replacement of a number of missing crown crosses, rudimentary straightening of cardinal points, cleaning out areas of rust-jacking before being painted and then gilded.

You’ll recall that part of the brief from Sally Strachey Conservation was to re-design the bearing system which had corroded and no longer allowed the weathervanes to rotate. The original bearing system centred around an exposed bearing surface which required regular maintenance.  To try and ensure a lower maintenance solution, the new bearing specification involved using sealed bearings with machined weather caps at the top and bottom.

evesham abbey weathervanes

Original bearing system and condition of gryphon at point of removal

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New bearing system visible on re-gilded gryphon

 

The four vanes were quite literally a stunning sight once re-gilded. Returned to their home in December 2015 we hope they will continue to do their job for many many more years to come!

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Gilded crown finials back on Evesham Abbey’s Tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gilded crown finials

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mirrored street lantern refurbishment

Made with 64 pieces of mirror glass each measuring 40mm x 40mm and 2mm thick, this pretty cast and wrought iron mirrored lantern from Kingswear in Devon was in need of refurbishment.

Mirrored lantern

Original condition of mirrored lampshade and bracket

To replace each of the 64 pieces of mirror, most of which were in poor condition, a template of what was existing needed to be made using the original lampshade. This would then inform as to where all the shaped pieces fit. The old mirror pieces were removed by the glaziers and the metal shade returned to us for refurbishment.

Original mirrored lampshade

Original pieces of mirrored glass

The shade and bracket metalwork required stripping down, shot blasting, minor filling work, a new cover plate for the base, priming and re-assembly. Once we had completed these works, the new 64 mirrored pieces were fitted into the shade. Devon Council would be re-painting the lantern to their guidelines and re-installing.

 

 

 

 

 

Condition of lampshade and bracket

Lampshade and bracket pre refurbishment

Lantern with new mirrored pieces and refurbished bracket and cover

Lantern with new mirrored pieces and refurbished bracket and cover

Refurbished lantern returned to Devon

Refurbished lantern returned to Devon

Pretty garden handrail

A little gem of a job recently came our way in the form of a pretty garden handrail for a property in Combe Down, Bath. Made from mild steel, the handrail features pretty figurative scroll detail to the tops of each post.

Handrail scroll work

Pretty handrail scroll detail

Mild steel garden handrail

Garden handrail to match balcony railings

 

The client asked for a colour to match in with elements of the garden, particularly the balcony railing, which we were more than happy to do. A lovely addition to the garden!

Handrail colour

Pretty garden handrail

 

Gateway to the Chateau D’Oiron…Overthrow

Whilst the gates go on to be thermal zinc sprayed ahead of painting, work continues on arguably the most decorative part of the job – the overthrow. Overthrows are seen on many period properties and are an opportunity to create a beautiful centrepiece to frame the entrance to a property.

Hand setting overthrow detail

Setting by hand

The overthrow for these gates – as with the gates themselves – has been made from scratch with all the scrollwork forge-welded together in the traditional manner and all set by hand.

All the components have been riveted and bolted together and set out as you can see here.

Wrought iron overthrow detail

Riveting and bolting overthrow detail

As a late addition, we were asked to incorporate the letter ‘S’ into the overthrow – coincidentally the monogram that also appeared on the original gates, this time standing for ‘Sturford’ – the name of the destination property.

Wrought iron overthrow monogram detail

‘S’ monogram detail in overthrow

Weighing in at approximately 125kg, this element will bring the total weight of the metalwork to over a tonne!

Wrought iron overthrow

Approx. 125kg of wrought iron overthrow

Gateway to the Chateau D’Oiron…Trial Fit

With the gates meticulously assembled, they were now ready for transportation by trailer to the Wiltshire residence for which they had been made.

It’s fair to say there was a general air of nervous excitement…today was a big day and just days before Christmas.

Each gate was carefully lifted by crane and gently lowered onto the bronze bushes. The Ironart team of Andy, Jason and Alan watched with baited breath as each gate was set down…and to everyone’s great relief – after three months of hard work – the gates fitted beautifully! No adjustments needed.HDG 261215 014

Trial fit completed, it was back on the trailer for the gates to be thermal zinc sprayed ahead of painting.

More to follow so watch this space!Trial Fit 3

Rwandan Schools’ Orchid Project gains Ironart support

Ironart are delighted to have made a donation to the 2016 Rwandan Schools’ Orchid Project, supporting Writhlington School pupils’ and the Mendip Studio School’s  5th expedition last month.

2016 expedition

Rwandan Schools’ Orchid Project – 2016 expedition

This year the two week trip focussed on devising and delivering a range of workshops and treks to develop capacity in orchid propagation, science and conservation. The team was also involved in setting up a second dedicated Rwandan orchid laboratory based at FAWE School, adding to the first laboratory set up at KCCEM (Kitabi College of Conservation and Environmental Management) by the 2014 expedition.

Since 2012 students from Writhlington School in Somerset have been working with staff and students in Rwandan Schools and Colleges to help set up a Rwandan Schools Orchid Project with the aims of developing local science education, conservation understanding and sustainable development.

Well done to this year’s expedition and keep up the great work!

Ironart attends NHIG’s inaugural best practice seminar

Keeping up to date with best practice is a vital part of our ongoing training here at Ironart, so we were delighted to attend the NHIG’s first seminar on the Cleaning, Protection and Coating of Historic Ironwork at the Rural Crafts Centre in Hereford, a few weeks ago.

With around 50 delegates participating from as far afield as Scotland, London and the South Coast the seminar covered three key areas:

Current Cleaning Methods and their Effects, The Effects of Environment on Corrosion and Current Corrosion Control Methods and Historic and Contemporary coatings, their advantages and disadvantages /methods of application.

During the short presentations given, differing treatments were covered with each speaker outlining the relative pro’s and cons. Delegates were then given the opportunity to question, comment and debate on the subject areas covered during the day.

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Andy from Ironart who attended said:

“Getting together with fellow blacksmiths, specialist conservators, architects, the heritage trust and students in a forum like this provides a fantastic opportunity to listen to experts in the subject and then debate – quite vigorously as it turned out! –  the issues and methods involved in cleaning, protecting and coating heritage ironwork. Those who came along agreed that the seminar was a huge step forward in developing best practice advice and guidance for everyone in the field, including practitioners, specifiers and commissioners.”

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Notes were taken of the outcomes which will inform the content for future guidance and advice produced by the NHIG.

Andy said:

“As NHIG Secretary I’d like to thank Hereford & Ludlow College for hosting the event and to everyone who attended. Well done also to the NHIG team and speakers for making this such an informative and interesting inaugural event.”

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Over the next year or so the NHIG will be organising a series of seminars and master classes covering other areas of interest and concern regarding ironwork conservation. With the intention of promoting communication and understanding between  owners, specifiers and conservation professionals and also making available a resource base of information and technical advice on the care and preservation of our heritage ironwork. For updates and latest news, go to www.nhig.org.uk

Ironart helps boost St Saviour’s Solar-ometer!

Be a Blacksmith for a day by bidding for a place on Ironart’s Introduction to Blacksmithing workshop, at St Saviour’s School’s Auction of Promises on Friday, 18th March 2016!

St Saviour's School Solar Project

St Saviour’s School Solar Project

All proceeds from the night will go towards the school’s Solar Project which is raising funds to install solar panels on the school roof. St Saviour’s has successfully been awarded a grant from the Bath & West Community Energy Fund (BWCE) for £10,000 which is conditional upon matching this amount from other sources.

The one-day course is aimed at complete beginners and is tutored by two of Ironart’s experienced artist blacksmiths, Jason Balchin and Martin Smith. Held in Larkhall, our workshops are open to anyone aged 16+ and  make a unique and memorable birthday or Christmas present.

You can choose from a selection of items to make and take home. We’ll supply all the safety equipment, tools and materials, a steady flow of tea, coffee and snacks to keep you going!

The course runs on a Saturday from 8am till 2pm and places are limited to just four people per session. Do check the calendar on our website for availability: http://ironart.co.uk/blacksmithing-workshops/

 

Here’s what previous participants are have said about the workshop:

“The things to make were interesting and the different techniques fun to learn…”

“I had a fantastic time and achieved so much more than I expected to. I really want to do another course with you guys….”

“Just to say I really enjoyed it. Our teacher was really patient and hit the right level of help/letting us get on with it. The day made me appreciate the skill involved. Would definitely recommend the course.”

Go on….dig deep and be a blacksmith for a day and help St Saviour’s SHINE!

Bustamante Pigeon

One of a pair of large Sergio Bustamante pigeons recently flew our way for repair, having suffered damage to its feathers and feet and unable to stand.

Broken feet

Broken feet

Made in Mexico in the 1970’s and measuring 18″ by 18″ of brass plated steel, Martin made repairs to the feet by re-soldering the joints and re-attaching the wooden structure inside the legs to create stability.

Damaged feathers

Damaged feathers

Martin said, “our charismatic friend had seen some previous repairs which unfortunately had been glued. Hopefully with the recent soldered repairs, he will continue to have a long and fruitful life.”

Post-repair

Post-repair

A punt at Prior Park!

Martin Smith’s punting skills were recently called into action when we were asked to repair the damaged penstock or ‘sluice gate’ at Prior Park in Bath.

The penstock, which controls the flow of water from the spring-fed middle to lower lake, can only be accessed by boat.

Penstock at Prior ParkUnder the expert navigation of Head Gardener Matthew Ward and the beautiful backdrop of the Palladian Bridge, Martin was safely transported across the water to make the repairs.

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Hard at work repairing the damaged penstock or sluice gate at Prior Park

Hard at work repairing the damaged penstock or sluice gate at Prior Park

Needless to say, a thorough risk assessment was carried out in advance by the National Trust which required Martin to wear this lovely red life jacket (and rather fetching he looks too, we think!)