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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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

Sweeping handrail for Watson, Bertram & Fell

Posting some pictures of a lovely curved handrail that we made for a farmhouse near Swainswick for Bath Architects Watson, Bertram & Fell and builders Donovan Construction.  A simple, elegant design made by James and Jason here in the Ironart workshops in Larkhall earlier in the year and fitted on site in several visits by Andy, Martin and Jason.

The bespoke timber for the handrail was supplied by Staffordshire based timber specialists Clive Durose. The finished stair rail has a really satisfying, intrinsic beauty, and the feedback we received from them put a big smile on our faces too… “We were very impressed with the quality of the metalwork, as was our fitter”

If you have a similar staircase project in mind and would like some advice, please give us a call because we’d love to help.

 

Road trip to the BABA AGM

Andy and James took some time out of the busy Ironart schedule, packed up one of the vans and headed north to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield for the annual AGM and conference of the British Artist Blacksmith Association last weekend.  Sounds like they had a great time. James took some pics and talked to me about his experience:

“It was really good to put faces to the names I read about in the BABA magazine and blacksmiths I’d heard about during my days at Hereford College.  The AGM gave me the opportunity to meet some of the people who have written books that I’ve read, and whose work has inspired me.  I got to chat to other UK blacksmiths who are in a similar stage of their career as me, we discussed ideas and future plans; and I talked to a French compagnons-du-devoir journeyman who shared his experience of this well-established infrastructure and learning model, which seems much more integrated than ours. BABA had organised some really interesting debates and discussions about the future of blacksmithing in general. Peter Parkinson’s drawing lecture was a particular highlight, along with meeting Alan Dawson, founder of Adaptahaus and the collaborative artist blacksmith Henry Pomfret. I’d definitely go again and recommend it to others – there were so many ways you can get something out of an experience like this.”

 

 

Bartlett Street Overthrow Restoration

These pictures tell the story of an intriguing restoration project we have in the workshop at the moment.We have been commissioned by the Bartlett Street Antiques Centre in Bath to survey,  dismantle and restore this beautiful 6m wide overthrow which has, for many years been hanging high over Bartlett Street, a picturesque pedestrian side street in Georgian Bath’s main shopping district.

We are still not sure exactly how old this lovely wrought iron overthrow is but probably late 19th Century. Martin Smith is overseeing the restoration of the whole piece, carefully cataloguing each section and ensuring the appropriate repairs are made at each stage of the process.  Stacey Hibberd, Cecilie Robinson and Adrian Booth are all assisting Martin in the restoration. It’s such a beautiful piece of original wrought ironwork and our whole team appreciate the level of craftsmanship and care that went into it’s making. We can only wonder how many million people have strolled underneath this overthrow without even noticing it! When restored and back in situ the gantry will incorporate some new, bold lettering to catch the eye – “Bartlett St Quarter” – more pics to follow as work progresses…

Sweet dreams, courtesy of Ironart

Adrian and Dom have just put the finishing touches to this wondrous double bed frame for a client in Salisbury.  This was an original design by Andy Thearle, incorporating plenty of lovely forging and collaring details – it took many, many hours of painstaking work to complete but it has been well worth the effort! The neat bedside tables were designed to match the bed, and will be finished off with slump glass shelves. The bed is just about to go into the paint shop for a satin black paint finish.

Bespoke forged beds are not ideal if you are on a tight budget, but a handmade piece of art like this will hold it’s value and give you something to hand on to the next generation. We do love this type of forgework, so if you have an idea in mind and want to discuss it with Andy or one of the team, please get in touch.

 

Invitation to our CPD Open Workshop in May

Ironart CPD Event 5th May 2015

If you are an architect, heritage professional, surveyor, landscape designer, garden designer or planning consultant you may be interested to hear that we are hosting a CPD Open Workshops event on Tuesday 5th May 2015. We will be hosting two sessions that day. 10am – 12noon or 2pm -4pm. Come and take a look around our forge, meet the team and find out more about our bespoke and restoration portfolio of work. Andy Thearle will be giving a short lecture entitled “An Introduction to Conservation, Care and Repair of Historic Ironwork”. To book in please give us a call on 01225 311273 or email ironart@ironart.co.uk. Please share this post with your colleagues, we look forward to meeting you.

 

Tower of London ceramic poppy display

In November the poppies from the internationally acclaimed ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red’ installation at the Tower of London went on sale to the general public. The poppy installation commemorated the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Great War, and was the work of ceramicist Paul Cummins and theatre designer Tom Piper.

Blood swept lands and seas of red - Poppy installation at the Tower of London

Blood swept lands and seas of red – Poppy installation at the Tower of London

Blood swept lands and seas of red - Installation at the Tower of London

Blood swept lands and seas of red – Installation at the Tower of London

A local commemorative poppy owner approached us to devise a delicate and simple method of fixing her commemorative poppy to an internal wall to create her own mini Tower of London poppy installation. The team here at Ironart came up with this solution which incorporates two neat screw holes in the poppy stem and a forged scroll tail to finish it off. If you’d like us to modify your poppy in the same way, we’d love to help, please get in touch 01225 311273.

Tower of London Poppy

The Anemone Gate in Larkhall

This morning we celebrated the unveiling of the lovely Anemone gate with a round of coffee and croissants! This quirky and unique gate was commissioned by a creative local couple who wanted a striking piece for their period property located just around the corner from our workshops here in Larkhall, Bath.

Andy’s lovely anemone flower design was realised on the forge by Simon Bushell, Cecilie Robinson and Jason Balchin in the Ironart workshops, galvanized and then handpainted by Cecilie.  The gate has already caused a flurry of interest and positive comments from passers by. The garden is also an eye-catching design, even in it’s dormant winter state it’s easy to tell that a great deal of thought has gone into the layout and planting. The garden design is the handiwork of Louise Bastow who runs Alchemy Garden Design in Bath and Bristol. Louise’s work is lovely, here is a link to her website.

If you are looking for a unique garden gate or structure for your home and garden please get in touch with us here at Ironart – we really enjoy this type of commission! Our thanks to the Davies for their hospitality and enthusiasm, and for the opportunity to make this gate, we love it.

National Heritage Ironwork Group (NHIG)

On Monday Andy and Alice went along to the AGM of the National Heritage Ironwork Group which was held in London. The NHIG objectives are to advance public knowledge and understanding of traditional ironwork and ironworking crafts, in particular through education, research and promotion of high standards.

The NHIG was set up and lauched by a small group of dedicated professionals in 2010. In four years it has grown to a committee of 17 very enthusiastic blacksmiths and heritage professionals who have come together from all corners of the UK to forward the aims of the group. The NHIG has recently been granted charity status and is looking set for some strategic changes – exciting times are ahead. More news on this when we have it.

In the meantime, if you are a blacksmith, heritage professional or simply have an enthusiasm for the conservation of important ironwork please help us to guarantee the future and support the NHIG by becoming a member today at a cost of £50 – spread the word!