Supporting Young Blacksmiths

16-year-old Loris on a work placement in the workshop

We continue to support young blacksmiths in developing their skills. Over the last couple of months, we have been happy to have Matthias Kuhn, a German Journeyman continuing our tradition of placements. Matthias is in his 6th year of training. During January he has been using the workshop a couple of days a week to get his portfolio ready for applying to study at Steneby Institute of Craft and Design. Steneby is host to Europe’s largest academic metal/blacksmithing workspace and is a brilliant place to study for anyone interested in a career in ironwork.

Matthias tells how in Germany the traditional Journeyman is a familiar sight. Journeymen traditionally don’t use any technology including a smartphone. They cannot spend money on transport and rely on lifts, mainly hitchhiking. This means they meet many people on their travels and get jobs along the way. Exploring different workshops means they learn a wide variety of skills by seeing how smiths work differently across many settings. Journeymen have to remain 50km away from their hometown and they travel and work this way for 3 years and 1 day. Interestingly, Matthais has chosen not to do it the traditional way as he wants to travel beyond Germany and as people don’t recognise the tradition outside Germany it makes things difficult. Matthias is doing his own modern version! We wish him much luck with his plans for studying at Steneby and for the future, it has been a pleasure to have him at Ironart. 

Following on from this we also have local, 16-year-old Loris Sarkissian on a work placement in the workshop, 2 days a week. Loris started studying at Hereford College this September, 3 days a week. He came looking for a work placement for the two days a week he is not at college, to get even more experience. We are happy to welcome Loris into the workshop.

NADFAS podcast – apprenticeships at Ironart

We were really thrilled to feature in a NADFAS podcast about apprenticeships.  James Cuthbertson and Cecilie Robinson are both recipients of NADFAS Patricia Fay memorial fund grants.

Please click on the link below to take you to the short film that was a made a few weeks ago here at Ironart.

NADFAS podcast

Weathervane restoration, St Mary’s Mudford

We undertook the restoration of a cockerel weathervane at St Mary the Virgin Church in Mudford earlier this year for Sally Strachey Conservation. 

Ironart’s Martin Smith, and NHIG blacksmith Paul Ashmore, are pictured removing the cockerel from the church tower earlier in 2013. Paul was on a placement with Ironart through the NHIG (National Heritage Ironwork Group) and worked on this project alongside Martin (also pictured here)


NADFAS Grant for blacksmith Cecilie Robinson

Exciting news! The NADFAS (National Association of the Decorative and Fine Art Societies) Grants Committee have awarded us a grant from the Patricia Fay Memorial Fund. This grant will be used to create a six month ‘Historic Metalwork Restoration’ training placement at Ironart for a talented young female blacksmith, Cecilie Robinson.

In 2013 Cecilie completed the Extended Diploma in Metalwork and Blacksmithing at The National School of Blacksmithing in Hereford, and was recognized with their ‘Best Student Award.’ Cecilie who lives in Larkhall, and grew up in Bath, was inspired to explore blacksmithing when she visited Master Blacksmith Don Barker’s Forge. Already a talented artist she was part way through a degree in Illustration at Camberwell College in London, before changing tack and pursuing a career in metalwork.

Cecilie, who has worked here during her college holidays during the past year to help us out when we’ve been really busy, will shadow the Ironart team on a series of restoration projects during her placement, learning techniques to repair heritage forged and cast ironwork as well as non-ferrous metals. She will also be visiting other workshops, foundries and museums during her time here, to underpin her training. We are really grateful to the NADFAS Grants Committee for this opportunity. Cecilie has a bright future in blacksmithing and will be a great ambassador for both NADFAS and the trade as a whole.

Cecilie Robinson - lead casting Cecilie Robinson

Congratulations Frances!

Frances Atkins is a world-reknowned Michelin starred chef. She also happens to be a member of the Ironart extended family as she is married to Nichola’s father Bill. Together they own and run The Yorke Arms in the Nidd valley near Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Last week Frances was awarded 3rd place in the Sunday Times Food List Top 100, making her the highest ranking female chef in the country. It is the latest in a string of accolades for The Yorke Arms, which has held a Michelin star since 2003.  The Sunday Times Food List is now in its fourth year, and was based on 80,000 reviews.

We are all incredibly proud of you Frances, and for what you and Bill have achieved at the Yorke Arms. You have worked so hard to get to this point, and nobody could deserve it more.

Frances Atkins

Internal handrails in a Grade II* Manor

Luke took this photo on site straight after he had finished fitting three elegant handrails in a beautiful Grade II* listed  Manor house in Marshfield near Bath.

The house has now been decorated and we’ll post more pics when we have some.

Internal handrails

Meet Simon Bushell, journeyman blacksmith

We’re lucky enough to have Simon Bushell here for a short while. Simon has completed the Hereford College Design & Forgework Skills course, and has joined the Ironart team to help out on a few projects. This week he’s been making hinges and working on the new Ironart front gates.

Here’s a link to Simon’s blog – worth grabbing a cup of tea as it makes for an entertaining read, and another link to the page about his work.

Simon Bushell

Bath Chronicle Apprenticeship Awards 2013

James Cuthbertson – our NADFAS apprentice, has been selected as a finalist in the Manufacturing and Engineering category of the Bath Apprentice Awards which is organised by the Bath Chronicle. The winners will be announced at the awards on the 4th July, at Bath Racecourse, Lansdown.

The Chronicle’s photographer came down earlier today to photograph James for the awards. Strike a pose James!

James Cuthbertson, Apprenticeship finalist, Bath Apprentice Awards

James Cuthbertson, Apprenticeship finalist, Bath Apprentice Awards


And for our next trick… a coconut shy!

Amidst a backdrop of large and time-consuming ironwork projects comes a completely curved ball in the shape of a commission for a coconut shy! The coconut shy is Ironart’s contribution to the forthcoming Larkhall Festival on 4th – 6th May 2013. Larkhall is a vibrant little community on the edge of Bath and if you’ve never been to take a look around we highly recommend that you come and visit.  The festival looks set to be a lot of fun, with exhibitions, concerts, talent contests, food tasting sessions, arts and craft workshops, a casino and a ‘Party in the Park’. Pictured here is our apprentice architectural metalworker James  Cuthbertson, with the Ironart coconut shy!

A coconut shy!

A coconut shy!