Jack joins us on his journey

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!

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Book your loved one a Christmas experience to remember…

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/

Jason and his workshop students

Jason and his workshop students

Ironart at Ypres 2016

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!”

Alan checks over the precious cargo!

Alan checks over the precious cargo!

Ypres, here we come!

Ypres, here we come!

Andy working on his team's panel

Andy working on his team’s panel

James and his teammates working on their tool-themed panel

James and his teammates working on their tool-themed panel

Andy with his team and finished panel

Andy with his team and finished panel

Alan with this forging team in French Catalan hats!

Alan with this forging team in French Catalan hats – supplied by members of the Association de Ferronnerie Catalane (http://www.association-ferronnerie-catalane.com)

The lads at the Cenotaph Poppy

The lads at the Cenotaph Poppy

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Thomas Coffe heads off…

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 at work

Thomas at work

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!

BABA AGM 2016: Blacksmithing on the beach!

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.”

BABA AGM 2016

Norman longboat sculpture taking shape

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Blacksmithing on the beach 2016!

BABA AGM 2016

Blacksmithing at the BABA event

Luke Hannaford celebrates 40 years with Ironart!

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.”

Congratulations Luke!

Luke celebrates 40 years with Ironart of Bath

Luke in the workshop…

...and out in the fresh air!

…and out in the fresh air!

 

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

Gateway to the Chateau D’Oiron…Final assembly

We recently blogged about the beautiful <<16th Century gates>> we’ve been working on for a private residence in Wiltshire. As promised, here’s the next instalment….

Clamping the gate

So having spent many weeks forging component parts for all aspects of the gates, it was time for final preparation and assembly. After all the components had been methodically adjusted to ensure a precise fit within the gate frame sections, the big moment had arrived…

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Clamped gate with tenon being forged

Having made all the intricate adjustments and ensuring that all the tenons fitted tightly, riveting of the outer frame could commence. To do this precisely and safely (bearing in mind each gate weighed approx. 450kg),  each gate was clamped in several places to ensure that there was no movement when the tenons were forged shut.

Once all the tenons and mechanical joints had been made good, each gate could be moved – no mean feat – requiring a block and tackle to lift each gate from the bench ahead of transportation…

 

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Tenon being heated prior to riveting

 

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Lifting 450+kg of gate

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RECLAIM magazine inaugural issue features Ironart’s Martin Smith

We were delighted to feature in RECLAIM magazine’s very first issue (March 2016), with an interview with Ironart’s very own Martin Smith!

In the interview, Martin talks about his background in restoration, his passion for the Short Stirling bomber restoration he is undertaking and talks in detail about the process of the recent restoration of a beautiful Coalbrookdale Nasturtium bench.

 

RECLAIM front page - March 2016

Ironart's Martin Smith talks about his background in restoration and recent Coalbrookdale bench restoration project

Ironart’s Martin Smith talks about his background in restoration and recent Coalbrookdale bench restoration project

Mary Reynolds on board with NADFAS grant

We are delighted to welcome Mary Reynolds to the team as our newest Apprentice Architectural Metalworker, thanks once again to the generosity of NADFAS.

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Mary originally comes from County Leitrim in Western Ireland and brings a valuable blend of skills essential to any aspiring artist blacksmith: strong practical ability combined with an artist’s eye.

She has already proved her commitment to the craft having recently completed a one year creative metalwork course at Plumpton College, West Sussex where she studied essential blacksmithing skills such as Forging and Welding.

Mary settling in the Ironart workshop

Mary has worked as an artist, graphic designer and photographer but was drawn to the possibilities of creating sculptural work in three dimensions. In 2014 Mary secured work experience with two metal sculptors: Giles Walker, contemporary scrap metal artist and kinetic and robotic sculptor and Alan Williams, metal artist and blacksmith, both of whom have given outstanding references of her work.

“I approached Ironart because of their expertise in both traditional metalworking techniques and restoration expertise, and also for the possibility to be involved in sculptural commissions. I’m really excited to be part of the Ironart team,” Mary said.

In her spare time, Mary enjoys staying busy; she plays the accordion, takes part in circus training and cycles.

Watch this space for updates on Mary’s progress!