In 2012 we designed and created a decorative floral arch for the Eden Project in Cornwall. We were approached this year by 3 sisters who wanted to give their mum a unique present for a special birthday. They were inspired by the arch that we had created for the Eden project and commissioned us to create a similar one for their mum. Cecily Robinson has worked on this lovely arch over the summer. It has just been installed and is looking glorious! Talking with Cecily about working on the arch she mentioned the challenges of creating consistent tapers from 40mm round bar at the bottom through to a point at the top. She also enjoyed the contrast of working with solid uprights that form the main structure of the arch alongside creating the fine flowery details that adorn the arch from top to bottom! See here the original arch at the Eden Project and the newly created arch installed in situ. If you are interested in commissioning something like this or similar do get in touch to discuss your idea.
|Over the last 3 and a half years, Ironart of Bath has been involved in a project called BathIRON. BathIRON was the brainchild of Andy Thearle, owner of Ironart of Bath and secretary and trustee of the National Heritage Ironwork Group. The NHIG’s aim is to raise awareness of heritage ironwork, the skills involved in creating it and also that enable its protection and conservation. The focal point of the BathIRON project was to create a brand new bespoke, musical themed balustrade for the bandstand in Parade Gardens, Bath, as a means to raise awareness of heritage ironwork to a multitude of audiences. |
Last June alongside The British Artist Blacksmith Association, Hereford College of Arts and lots of artist blacksmiths, Ironart of Bath participated in the BathIRON festival of ironwork in Parade Gardens in the centre of the City of Bath. Over the 4 days of the event, all the bespoke panels were forged live by master blacksmiths and their teams. Following on from that, after a winter of hard work and thousands of hours of forging, galvanising, finishing and painting, this April saw the final installation of the balustrade and it looks amazing! It is now in situ and you can go down anytime to Parade Gardens in Bath and have a look.
|This May Ironart joined the final celebrations to mark the project’s completion, at an event called FireFOLK in Parade Gardens, Bath. FireFOLK was an evening of live folk music, forging demonstrations, a silent auction of traditionally, hand-forged pieces, a bar and local food stalls. It was a family-friendly event as part of the Bath Festival and welcomed people of all ages and backgrounds. It was great to be mixing with artist and master blacksmiths, families who had sponsored notes on the balustrade, folk music enthusiasts, regulars to the park and visitors to the city. We were very lucky with a balmy, sunny evening and much fun was had by all, the mayor came to cut the ribbon and accept this amazing, bespoke gift on behalf of the city of Bath and the evening ended in suitable style with lots of happy folk dancing around the beautiful, newly adorned bandstand. Read more about the project here.|
It has been amazing to be part of this project, that leaves a legacy that will be seen and enjoyed for hundreds of years by many thousands of people visiting and living in the city of Bath. The opportunity to be involved in something that allows people to understand the incredible creative possibilities of working with metal was very exciting and a privilege. This kind of bespoke work is something that Ironart of Bath specialises in. Do get in touch if you would like us to come and talk about a creative idea you have for some bespoke ironwork creation!
We bid a fond farewell to Ted and Mary this week as both are off on new adventures. Ted is taking on the dry dock of a boatyard in Bradford on Avon, and Mary will be exploring various artistic ventures via Glastonbury and a seaweed farm in Ireland, finally ending up on an organic farm in Somerset. Luckily there’s a forge on-site …
Here they are with the whole team (minus Alan who is motor-biking around Norway) just before departure.
We are delighted to welcome Jack Waygood to the Ironart team for a 5 week stint on his journeymanship. He joins us after smithing at numerous workshops including with Ian Moran in the Black Country, Jo Williams at Bristol Docks and Roberto Giordani in Cesena, Italy. Jack’s goal is to head back to Italy early next year to work with Georg Reinking for two months.
“I’m really enjoying working at Ironart; it’s great to work as part of a such a busy team with such a variety of commissions going through the workshop.”
Good to have you with us Jack!
Ironart’s Blacksmithing Courses are back for 2017!
We are delighted to announce 2017 dates for our ever popular one day blacksmithing courses…and in good time for those of you looking for that extra special Christmas gift experience.
These one-day courses are aimed at complete beginners and are tutored by two of Ironart’s experienced artist blacksmiths Jason Balchin and Martin Smith. Open to anyone aged 16+ they make a unique and memorable gift for all sorts of occasions, creating a lasting memory for the recipient – as well as any possible budding blacksmith!
Choose from a selection of items to make and take home. Or alternatively if you have a burning idea for something you’d like to make, just let us know a little in advance and we’ ll do our best to accommodate!
We’ll supply you with all safety equipment, tools and materials, a steady flow of tea and coffee, and mid morning snacks to keep you going.
Ironart one-day blacksmithing courses start at 8am – 2pm and cost £110 per person – they are limited to just four people per session, so tend to sell out quickly. Please check our calendar for availability.
To find out more or to book a place, please visit http://ironart.co.uk/blacksmithing-workshops/
Ypres in Flanders saw a fantastic turnout for its week long International Blacksmithing event last week. Bringing together blacksmiths and farriers from around the world to create a stunning new World War 1 Cenotaph for the 21st Century, the cenotaph will stand as a beacon of hope for future generations, commemorating all those who died, survived and were affected by the conflict 100 years ago.
Represented by Andy, Alan, Alan’s wife Helen and James, Ironart was proud to attend and take part in this unique event, travelling the return trip of 580 miles by camper van and bicycle, via the Channel Tunnel.
Andy told us:
“The set up at Ypres was incredibly impressive – over 20 nationalities were represented across the 170+ blacksmiths attending. Split into 25 teams under Master Blacksmiths, the forging stations ran really well with Alan, James and I joining different masters to produce the individually designed railing panels which will flank the 12-tonne centrepiece of the Cenotaph – a 7m high slab of steel featuring a single Flanders Field poppy surrounded by a field of 2,016 steel poppies – all handcrafted by blacksmiths and farriers from all over the world.”
Over the six day event, the town saw parades and events to commemorate the Great War and all those who suffered, including the laying of a wreath of poppies forged by children. Alongside the forging spectacle, ‘Transition’, an exhibition of contemporary forged metal design, was also on display. The international exhibition will tour the UK and mainland Europe finishing in London as part of the centenary Armistice celebrations in 2018.
“As always it was great to meet up with old friends and make new acquaintances; working in international teams really does inspire. It was also a great opportunity for us to spread the word about BathIRON 2017 a celebration of our nation’s heritage ironwork, which the NHIG (National Heritage Ironwork Group) is staging in June next year. A rare and exciting event, Bath’s Parade Gardens will host a Festival of Ironwork that will see the live creation of a brand new balustrade for the park’s bandstand. Alongside this, a two-day Historic Ironwork Conference at the Guildhall will focus on conservation and restoration of our nation’s heritage ironwork.”
“We thoroughly enjoyed Ypres 2016 – huge thanks and congratulations to BABA and the Belgian Guild of Blacksmiths (ASG) for organising. For the Ironart contingent, it gave James and myself a great opportunity to get our cycling gear on and take in some beautiful countryside on our 120-mile return leg from Calais to Ypres. Many thanks to Alan and Helen for driving…a road trip to remember!”
Hard to believe but almost a year has passed since journeyman blacksmith Thomas joined us back in September 2015, as part of his apprenticeship with the Compagnons du Devoir (also known as the Compagnons du Tours de France).
You’ll recall from an earlier blog that the Compagnons du Tour de France is a French organisation of craftsmen and artisans dating from the Middle Ages. The aim of the Compagnon guild is to train young men and women in traditional trades by acquiring experience by working in various workshops throughout France and internationally. Their traditional, technical education includes taking a tour doing apprenticeships with masters.
As his year with Ironart draws to a close and with the next stage of his journey lined up, Thomas tells us how the last 11 months have gone:
“Looking back, the year has really been a great experience for me; I’ve worked on and seen so many interesting projects as part of the Ironart team, first working closely with Dominic then more independently. It has been such a busy environment. Everyone has been so helpful, welcoming and supportive. My English was very basic when I arrived – school level – now I can say a full sentence or two and have picked up some technical blacksmithing terms!
I came with only a small amount of ironworking experience and had never worked in a blacksmithing organisation. One project that stands out for me was making a balcony and balustrade for a property in Lansdown, Bath – learning new techniques and seeing the finished piece was amazing.”
Thomas leaves us in mid August and will move back to France, settling in Strasbourg for the next two years as he takes up a teaching role at the city’s Compagnons du Devoirs. He will be teaching 16-18 year old metalworking apprentices basic skills and techniques, as they embark on their own journeys.
“I am really looking forward to the next stage in my learning – and also a little nervous! It will be a very busy two years and I have never taught before so again I will have a lot to learn myself.
The confidence Andy and the team at Ironart have shown me has helped me already and I’m looking forward to talking about and sharing my experiences with other compagnons when I return to France. I am very lucky to have had this experience and would definitely recommend it to other apprentices. Thank you to Andy and everyone at Ironart for everything – I can actually speak English now!”
We wish Thomas all the very best!
A huge well done and thank you to BABA – the British Artist Blacksmiths Association, who put on a fantastic show at their 2016 AGM and Conference, with their ‘Blacksmithing on the beach’ event in Hastings last weekend.
Featuring as part of the Root 1066 Festival , Hastings-based sculptor Leigh Dyer, in collaboration with BABA, produced a new piece of public art live at the event on Hastings Stade. The sculpture is inspired by the development of the English language through the integration of Norman French and the progression from a largely spoken to a written culture.
Andy of Ironart and BABA member said:
“It really was a fantastic event and great to see so many people – those directly involved in the blacksmithing craft but also so many members of the public – enjoying the scene. Seeing the sculpture take shape live in the form of a Norman longboat really drew the crowds and the kids loved having a go at the forging.”
To look at him, you wouldn’t think it was possible, but this year sees Ironart’s Luke Hannaford celebrate an amazing 40 years of service with us!
Luke started with the company in 1976, aged just 16, as an apprentice under the guidance of Sam Chantry, Ironart’s founder.
“In those days you did a bit of everything, learning the trade on the job. I worked on so many local projects in those early days; refurbishing the railings behind the Theatre Royal, Rivers Street, Brock Street, a job at Bowood House…
Ironart hasn’t changed that much to be honest! I’ve seen changes in management and different ways of doing things. There were only four of us here when I joined, now there are 12. In terms of the work we get, restoration projects have definitely increased which is great to see. And we do less heavy work.”
Luke spends more of his time fitting and installing on site these days – he loves the interaction with customers and being out in the fresh air!
“You don’t often hear about people being in the same job for 40 years these days do you. I might have a reputation with the younger ones here for being a bit of a grump – I’m allowed to be after 40 years! – but really they know I love it here and its good to see apprentices join the blacksmithing trade just as I did all those years ago.”
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.
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.”
Notes were taken of the outcomes which will inform the content for future guidance and advice produced by the NHIG.
“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.”
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