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

panel-3-web panel-2-web panel-1web

 

 

An unusual, contemporary balustrade in Bristol

This 17m run of balustrading in Bristol was designed to meet a specific brief – our clients wanted a  contemporary design but one which incorporated traditional metalworking techniques. The design they went for was a real departure from anything we’ve made before, and looks fantastic.

Jason Balchin, Dom West and the Ironart team tapered the square bar support posts to create a 5mm thick wrap detail. They also hot punched two holes in each stem for the 16mm balustrade rails to pass through. The round-section infill bars were also hot forged into conical tapers which were then wrapped around the horizontal bars at the top and the bottom of the railings.  The 42mm diameter handrail was a lovely solid round section. These pics show Jason at work forging the component parts for this unusual project. This contemporary balustrade was then galvanized to weather proof it before being painted here in our workshop spray booth by Dean.

If you like this style of railing/balustrade and would like to talk to us about commissioning a similar piece of work, please get in touch.

 

 

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.

 

Saturday morning Blacksmithing workshop

Last weekend Martin led a group of four friends from Bradford on Avon through a blacksmithing workshop session.
The dynamic quartet raced through the basics of forging and quickly progressed to making some really interesting and unique pieces, including a candlestick, boot rack, hanging basket bracket and WW1 commemorative ceramic poppy holder. Martin found it a really rewarding session and was flat out keeping each project progressing throughout the morning. And the feedback from the group… ‘We thoroughly enjoyed it!”  Here are some pics of the fruits of their labours.

Blacksmithing workshop feedback

Last Saturday Martin led a workshop of four people through some basic forging techniques. We had this really lovely feedback from Tom O’Driscoll who attended, which we wanted to share. The workshop had been a surprise Christmas present from Tom’s wife. If you are interested in booking onto one of our blacksmithing workshops there is limited availability at the moment due to their popularity – click here for a link to our website. Please sign up to the Ironart newsletter to be the first to hear about more dates as we announce them.

Blacksmithing Course - Jan 15 (9) Blacksmithing Course - Jan 15 (1)

 

“I really, really enjoyed the day with Ironart.  It was a hugely enjoyable and informative experience.  With just 4 of us we were able to learn and practice in an intimate and constructive setting and develop some new acquaintances –without being lost in a crowd, as I have been on other activities.  I thought your administrative arrangements, from joining instructions to bacon butties, were spot on and I have already highly recommended the day to friends and family. I particularly enjoyed freestyling it later on in the session, making a few pieces for the home.  I admired the way we were not corralled into making something specific and that Martin was just keen to help us realise our ideas.  Great day all round.  VMT   Tom O’D”

Ironart & Swainswick Explorers join forces for local schools

We are really excited about a new collaboration with Swainswick Explorers just up the road from us here at Ironart.

Swainswick Explorers is the most amazing outdoor play venue overlooking a steep valley on the edge of Bath. Swainswick Explorers was set up by husband and wife team Edward and Rachel Leigh-Wood. Ed, Rachel and their team of leaders are passionate about the importance of outdoor play in the development of children’s emotional and educational wellbeing.

Swainswick Explorers logo  Valley Added Project Logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

This collaboration is part of the Valley Added initiative  whos aims are to provide enrichment opportunities for children attending schools in the local area. Ironart and the team at Swainswick Explorers will be working together to provide hands-on have-a-go blacksmithing and woodworking sessions to junior school children from local schools throughout 2015.

None of this would be possible without the support of stalwart volunteers (and good friends of Ironart) Carol and Robert Smith who have set up the lovely forge at Swainswick and were on hand today to demonstrate how it could all work.

Pictured here are Ironart’s Martin Smith, Rachel from Swainswick Explorers with Robert and Carol. More news on this project as it takes shape.

 

 

 

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.

One-day blacksmithing courses

Following the success of our workshops this summer, the Ironart team will be running more one-day ‘Introduction to Blacksmithing’ courses through the Autumn/Winter. These take place in our Larkhall forge on the outskirts of beautiful Georgian Bath. These one-day courses are aimed at the complete beginner and will be tutored by experienced artist blacksmiths Jason Balchin and Martin Smith.  They are open to anyone aged 16+ and make a unique and memorable birthday or Christmas present gift. Choose from a selection of items to make and take home. We’ll supply you with all safety equipment, tools and materials, hot bacon sandwiches and a steady flow of tea and coffee to keep you going. Please share this on Facebook and Twitter or forward this email to anyone you know who might be interested….

Blacksmithing workshops at Ironart of Bat

Blacksmithing workshops at Ironart of Bath

Jason Balchin of Ironart of Bath. Photo credit Clare Green, Western Daily Press

Jason Balchin of Ironart of Bath. Photo credit Clare Green, Western Daily Press

 

The following one-day workshops run from 8am – 2pm and cost £95.00 per person.

Saturday 22nd November 2014

Saturday 6th December 2014

Saturday 17th January 2015

Saturday 31st January 2015

Email ironart@ironart.co.uk or call us on 01225 311 273 to book your place. Please note that these are on a first-come, first served basis and payment is required in full to secure your place. (p.s. We can make suggestions for accommodation locally if needed.)

Please note that space is limited so book early to avoid disappointment! Feedback from previous one-day forging workshops …. “The things to make were interesting, and the different techniques fun to learn. The level and pace of the training was excellent, and it was great that we could each proceed at our own speed.” “I had a fantastic time, and achieved so much more than I expected to. I really want to do another course with you guys: that heart shaped hook is next on my list!” “Just to say I really enjoyed it. Our teacher was really patient and hit the right level of help/letting us get on with it. The day made me appreciate the skill involved. Would recommend the course.” “Well organised, good fun and good bacon butties!” “Andy and I thoroughly enjoyed the day at Ironart. Martin provided great instruction and within no time at all we had made several test pieces with scrolls and twists.”

 

* Terms and Conditions of booking:

  • Amendments to bookings may be made up to 14 days prior to the date of the class. If you find you are unable to attend a class less than 14 days before the date of your workshop we regret that the course fees will only be refunded if we are able to fill your place. These rules apply equally to gift voucher bookings.
  • If through unavoidable circumstances Ironart Ltd has to cancel a workshop, all course fees will be refunded in full or if you wish, transferred to another course. We regret that we cannot refund any other costs you may have incurred in advance, such as travel and accommodation.
  • Ironart Ltd cannot accept liability for any loss, injury or damage to course participants or their property. Copies of Ironart Ltd Public Liability Insurance certificate are available on request.
  • Whilst the dates & prices for the courses are correct at the time of going to press, Ironart Ltd reserves the right to make alterations to dates, times, course content & prices.

Cecilie’s visit to Sheffield Forgemasters

NadfasNadfas Grant recipient Cecilie Robinson has just returned from a five day visit to Sheffield Forgemasters International, which is a massive industrial metalworking business and the biggest foundry in the UK. Sheffield Forgemasters make vast component parts for things like offshore oil rigs, submarines, ships and nuclear power stations. They have a whopping 800 strong team of people working a 24 hour operation with three rotating shifts.

Cecilie spent time in the pattern shop, where the scaled up drawings are turned into vast wood and filler patterns, then in the foundry where the team make sand moulds on a huge industrial scale. Cecilie had a go at welding with their team too, where she experimented with various rods – and modestly admitted she did “pretty well!”

Cecilie also visited the meltshop where recycled steel is melted down and elements are added to it. The day she was there they were making stainless steel components for a nuclear project. Pouring from a furnace into two 104 tonne ladles. The team at Forgemasters use computer programmes to simulate these pour processes, and their technicians can predict where issues will occur, such as problematic differences in cooling rates, air bubbles etc.
Then 12 hours later (late at night) these molten ladles were poured into the mould. This was apparently then going to take up to twelve weeks to cool and set! Ultrasound is used to indentify impurities in the casting which are then gouged out and rebuilt where necessary.
Amazingly the Forgemasters foundry is on a different site to the melt shop so the molten steel has to be transported on a flat bed lorry prior to the pour which is huge feat of logistics in its own right. Sometimes they pour up to six ladles per project. The whole experience was a real eye-opener and really worthwhile. Our thanks to the team at Forgemasters International for showing Cecilie around their impressive set up and making her feel so welcome.

 

 

The making of the Anemone gate

We have nearly finished this really lovely and unique garden gate. The ‘Anemone gate’ was one of those exciting commissions which fires everyone’s enthusiasm for our work. Working to Andy’s unique design, with plenty of input from our clients, a team of blacksmiths set to work on the forge. Jason, Simon and Cecilie were all involved in it’s making.

The Anenome Gate by Ironart of Bath

The Anenome Gate by Ironart of Bath

This sequence of pictures show the team at work forging what is largely a traditionally-made gate. For those who have a technical level of interest, you might like to know…

  • The gate frame was made with forged tenons
  • The gate styles were upset and formed (4 inches of material disappeared during this process!)
  • The flowers were forged from 3mm sheet steel, they were constructed with ball and thread, drilled and tapped into the stem.
  • The long tapers were drawn out to form stems which were then upset at the bottom to give a natural flared look.
  • The neat collars were put on hot
  • The lettering for the property will be laser cut in stainless steel and fixed to the plate at the bottom of the gate.
  • The finish? Well… it will be galvanised and then hand painted!

We’ll blog some more pictures of this project as the gate nears completion.