Ironart at BABA AGM

Ferrous2017-main-image-smallAndy and Jack were in Hereford last month for the AGM of the British Artist Blacksmiths Association as part of Ferrous 2017.  There were some fascinating talks and two outstanding exhibitions of work by leading metal artists at the city’s Cathedral and Museum.  ‘Transition’ and ‘Forge’ were both curated by Delyth Done, course leader of the Artist Blacksmithing BA at Hereford College, and bring together in one place some of the most exciting contemporary forged metal design around, aiming to ‘represent a paradigm shift from the traditional discourse of the blacksmith and break new ground by synthesising and articulating the practice of creative and conceptual working with forged metal.’  Members of the public had the opportunity to forge ginkgo leaves as part of a sculptural ‘arbour’ designed by Ambrose Burn for St Michael’s Hospice in Hereford.

Andy gave his own talk about the flagship event BathIRON, to be held in June next year, within the context of the National Heritage Ironwork Group’s work.  In what many described as an inspiring and thought-provoking talk, he urged fellow BABA members, as the custodians of ancient skills which are at risk of being lost, to keep them alive and pass them on.  NHIG are selling hand-forged treble clefs to raise funds for BathIRON and several smiths came forward offering to make batches in their workshops.  All in all a great weekend of fun and forging among kindred spirits! 

Perfect Spot for a Gazebo

Cox Gazebo main pic

 

It’s always good to be out in the garden in June, especially when we’re installing a magnificent gazebo like this – which is just perfect for the spot that’s been lovingly prepared for it.  It’s a great feeling when all the component parts that have been carefully crafted in the workshop come together perfectly on-site, particularly when the finished piece looks immediately at home as it does here.

 

Watch it go up ….

Royal Crescent Birthday Celebrations

We had a great time at the Royal Crescent foundation stone celebration on Sunday.  Sunshine, sandwiches, plenty of willing helpers to pump the bellows and lots of nice people to talk to … And most importantly the opportunity to show how the finials on the Royal Crescent railings would have been made 250 years ago (except that perhaps the bellows wouldn’t have been quite so leaky).  James even had his moment of fame on BBC Points West!

Royal Crescent 250 6 20170521_123314Royal Crescent 250 120170521_132313

 

Holburne Friends Plant Sale

Come and see us at the Holburne Plant Sale on Sunday 7th May.  We’ll be on the front lawn.  You can’t miss us – bright orange Larkhall Cafe Chair (new colour we’re trying out). More info here: http://www.holburne.org/support-us/friends-of-the-holburne-museum/friends-activities/

Holburne Plant Sale

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Our Larkhall Cafe Chair and Table Base brightening up the spray shop

 

Burwalls Gates

We were recently asked to restore the original gates to Burwalls, an impressive 19th Century listed mansion perched on the edge of the Avon Gorge in Leigh Wood, Bristol. Originally built as a private house in 1872 the property has passed through media and tobacco families before being requisitioned in 1939 by the War Office and then acquired in 1948 by the University of Bristol. The gates, which are likely to have been made by Singers of Frome, were in need of restoration and widening to fit their new setting at the entrance to a development of private luxury apartments within the grounds.

A beautiful pair of 19th century gates brought back to life

A beautiful pair of 19th century gates brought back to life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The restoration process included straightening crash-damaged sections, the reversal of previous poor repair work, replacement of missing parts, treatment of corrosion, and new extensions to both gate leaves to complement the original gates. We were also asked remove the original acanthus leaves and make new copper Tudor Roses to replace those that were missing, as well as restore and repair the remaining roses. Finally, new lockboxes were made and the gates sandblasted and re-painted prior to fitting.

You can read more about the intricate process of making a Tudor Rose here …

Original condition of lockbox

poor repair work 2

Previous poor repair work

Tudor Rose before

Original Tudor Rose

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traditionally made Courtyard gates, Oxfordshire

We were recently  approached to design and make a set of gates for a substantial 18th Century property in Oxfordshire. Required for the property’s courtyard, the gates were to be made in the traditional manner with their design reflecting the style of the front gates.  Made of mild steel, the gates featured mortice and tenon joints, individually hand forged finials and fire welded rings, as well as traditionally made snub-ended scrolls. To finish, the gates were thermal zinc sprayed and painted.  We’ll post photos of these stunning gates in situ soon.

Snub ended scroll work detail

 

Rings in situ

Traditional mortise & tenon joint

Gates laid out in workshop

Gates laid out in workshop prior to zinc spraying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simon fire-welds the ring detail

Simon fire welds the rings – all 48 of them! – see more below …

Fire welding rings 2 Fire welding rings 5Fire welding rings 4

Charming internal handrail

We recently fitted a charming handrail for an internal staircase at a property in Monkton Combe, Bath.

Hand forged in our Larkhall workshop  two sections of 20mm diameter handrail were made to fit a lower staircase and two short steps.

A pretty bespoke job!

Charming internal handrail Charming internal handrail

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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Lower Lodge Gateway, Ashton Court

The Lower Lodge Gateway (or Gatehouse) was once the main entrance to impressive Ashton Court in Bristol. Built in c. 1805 it was constructed at its location to allow a picturesque carriage drive from the City of Bristol to Ashton Court’s main west front.

Having been in a state of dilapidation for some time, the Lower Lodge gates are now part of a £1m Bristol Buildings Preservation Trust Project which will see the restoration and conversion of the building into the Bower Ashton Gateway Centre, a community hub and learning centre to be managed by Ashton Park School.

For us at Ironart, restoring these gates has been another fantastic project to be involved in…and not without its challenges!

Due to logistical issues, the 15ft x 15ft double gates set within the gatehouse itself couldn’t be moved so the team was required to restore them in situ – a very restricted space. Made of wrought iron in c. 1875 we think the gates were originally transported to the site in sections for assembly.

Martin Smith of Ironart said:

“Over the years the gates have suffered quite severe damage including vehicle damage. The right hand leaf looking out on to the road was seriously distorted and the level of rust-jacking to the overall structure was widespread. This was particularly noticeable on the finial cresting which was also severely bent, with cracks clearly visible on the left side. The top and bottom rails were also in poor condition. The lock boxes were severely corroded and broken; the springs were snapped and internals bent, again probably due to vehicle damage. The drop bolt and keep were in need of repair as the keep was no longer retaining the bolt.”

Washing down the gates to remove the top layer of dirt enabled us to see the scale of the job. Rust-removal was the next key stage which once completed, was followed by wire-brushing back to the clean surface.

In terms of the individual elements, the broken lock box was sent to Keith Carrier & Son of Birmingham, for repair. New lock box cover plates were made at Ironart’s Larkhall workshop and the keep boxes repaired retaining  as much of the original material as possible.

The drop bolt once removed was brought back to the workshop to be straightened and a new tension-spring made and fitted.

The finial cresting of spears and sweeps was removed from the top bar and brought back to the workshop for the rust-jacking to be removed. Each spear, sweep and ring detail was individually and carefully cleaned out and filled where needed. Repairs were also made to the bottom rail.

Once primed, the gates were undercoated and top-coated in a dark grey paint. A beautiful pair of 19th Century gates restored and ready for the next chapter in their story…

Lower Lodge Gates

Original condition of gates

 

Original condition of lockbox

Original condition of lockbox

Rust-jacking in between ring detail and missing buns

Rust-jacking in between ring detail and missing buns

Lower Lodge Gates

Rust-jacking on bottom bar

Original condition of dropbolt

Original condition of dropbolt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restored lockbox by Keith Carrier & Son

Restored lockbox by Keith Carrier & Son

 

Spear and sweep finial cresting original condition; gapping visible to top right

Spear and sweep finial cresting original condition; gapping visible to top right

Individually cleaning out the ring detail

Individually cleaning out the ring detail

Finial cresting re-fitted

Finial cresting re-fitted

Painting the gates

Painting the gates

 

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

Info sheet and lettering (web)

Blacksmithing on the beach 2016!

BABA AGM 2016

Blacksmithing at the BABA event