Gareth Cryer, one of the newest blacksmiths to join our team has been lucky enough to be part of the Princes Foundation Building Craft Programme over the last 8 months. The programme involved a 3-month live-build at Dumfries House in Scotland with a team of other craftspeople including stonemasons, carpenters, bricklayers, thatchers and blacksmiths who were all developing their heritage skills. As part of the programme, Gareth had placements at forges across the UK including his time with us at Ironart. We are as active as we can be in fostering these types of placement supporting and developing people with the craft. In running this programme, The Princes Foundation is doing great work to develop crafts professional’s skills in the UK and enable better building practice and conservation of heritage sites across the country. We are really keen to support this kind of enterprise. Congratulations, to Gareth for completing this inspirational programme. We look forward to welcoming Jeremy Cash, our latest placement from the foundation, this November. See below some images of the projects Gareth worked on the programme.
Two years ago, the main Rood Screen at St John the Evangelist in Bath was fully conserved and re-gilded. Since then we have been commissioned to undertake the conservation of the beautifully made traditional iron folding gates on either side of the Rood Screen. We have really enjoyed having the opportunity to work on such a stunning piece of local heritage ironwork. The gates were originally made in 1905 and each gate has slightly different designs and motifs. The gates were covered in an old shellac lacquer which has been removed along with minor corrosion and the one or two missing parts were hand-forged and replaced and then repainted in a matt black paint with gilded highlights to reflect similar gilding on the rood screen.
There is a scattering of shrapnel pockmarks from when the neighbouring presbytery was badly damaged by a bomb in the Baedeker raids of 1942. Because of the bomb damage, one of the gates had lowered which meant we had to extend the hinge journal and heel pivot, allowing the renovated lockboxes and latch to line up nicely and work as they no doubt originally did. Whilst odd missing parts were replaced, the shrapnel damage was left alone, a historical marker left for future generations to find.
It was great to discover more about the history of the building and the ironwork through this renovation project. Click to see this film of St John’s the Evangelist Church after being bombed in some rare documentary footage from the BFI library archive that was found by Martin Smith one of the blacksmithing team who worked on the conservation of the gates. Martin was curious to find out more about the bombing that impacted the heritage ironwork they were working to conserve.
|Over the last 3 and a half years, Ironart of Bath has been involved in a project called BathIRON. BathIRON was the brainchild of Andy Thearle, owner of Ironart of Bath and secretary and trustee of the National Heritage Ironwork Group. The NHIG’s aim is to raise awareness of heritage ironwork, the skills involved in creating it and also that enable its protection and conservation. The focal point of the BathIRON project was to create a brand new bespoke, musical themed balustrade for the bandstand in Parade Gardens, Bath, as a means to raise awareness of heritage ironwork to a multitude of audiences. |
Last June alongside The British Artist Blacksmith Association, Hereford College of Arts and lots of artist blacksmiths, Ironart of Bath participated in the BathIRON festival of ironwork in Parade Gardens in the centre of the City of Bath. Over the 4 days of the event, all the bespoke panels were forged live by master blacksmiths and their teams. Following on from that, after a winter of hard work and thousands of hours of forging, galvanising, finishing and painting, this April saw the final installation of the balustrade and it looks amazing! It is now in situ and you can go down anytime to Parade Gardens in Bath and have a look.
|This May Ironart joined the final celebrations to mark the project’s completion, at an event called FireFOLK in Parade Gardens, Bath. FireFOLK was an evening of live folk music, forging demonstrations, a silent auction of traditionally, hand-forged pieces, a bar and local food stalls. It was a family-friendly event as part of the Bath Festival and welcomed people of all ages and backgrounds. It was great to be mixing with artist and master blacksmiths, families who had sponsored notes on the balustrade, folk music enthusiasts, regulars to the park and visitors to the city. We were very lucky with a balmy, sunny evening and much fun was had by all, the mayor came to cut the ribbon and accept this amazing, bespoke gift on behalf of the city of Bath and the evening ended in suitable style with lots of happy folk dancing around the beautiful, newly adorned bandstand. Read more about the project here.|
It has been amazing to be part of this project, that leaves a legacy that will be seen and enjoyed for hundreds of years by many thousands of people visiting and living in the city of Bath. The opportunity to be involved in something that allows people to understand the incredible creative possibilities of working with metal was very exciting and a privilege. This kind of bespoke work is something that Ironart of Bath specialises in. Do get in touch if you would like us to come and talk about a creative idea you have for some bespoke ironwork creation!
Another Christmas gift idea comes in the form of these beautiful hand-forged treble clefs – perfect for the budding musician or music lover on your list. They would also make a completely original Christmas tree decoration.
Even better, by purchasing one you will help the NHIG to stage a unique event in the centre of Bath which will run from 14th-17th June next year, celebrating heritage skills, promoting the care of historic ironwork and championing the work of the artist blacksmiths who are the custodians of these vital traditional skills.
They were made during a forge-in at Ironart by volunteers who are passionate about their craft and keen to support the BathIRON initiative. So if you want join them in supporting this important grass-roots celebration of our shared heritage, buy a treble clef and help make it happen!
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.
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.”
Notes were taken of the outcomes which will inform the content for future guidance and advice produced by the NHIG.
“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.”
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
We are hosting two open days this coming bank holiday weekend here at Ironart and would love to see you.
Larkhall Open Studios 2015
On Saturday 2nd May from 10am – 3pm our workshops will be open as part of the Larkhall Festival weekend.
We’re taking part in the Larkhall Open studios arts trail – an intriguing walking trail featuring the workshops and studios of 18 artists and groups in this area, please follow this link for a map of the trail. It’s completely free and we would love to see you.
Historic Ironwork – Open day and lecture
Then on Tuesday 5th May we are opening the workshop doors for an educational event, Andy Thearle (owner of Ironart) will be giving a short, informative lecture entitled: “An introduction to Conservation, Care and Repair of Historic Ironwork.”
This event is also also free*, but booking is essential as space is limited in the workshop. There are two sessions. Choose from 10am- 12 noon or from 2pm-4pm. There is currently some space left in both sessions so please let us know if you’d like to come along. Call 01225 311273 or email email@example.com
*(We’d like to encourage those who attend to make a £15 donation to our nominated charity- the National Heritage Ironwork Group and can provide you with details about how to make a donation)
We are hosting an 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please share this post with your friends and colleagues, we look forward to meeting you.
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!