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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Larkhall Festival Weekend – Open Day

It was great to welcome so many people at the Ironart open day on Saturday – part of the Larkhall Festival weekend. The forges were fired up and thankfully it didn’t rain. We had a visit from a gentleman called Sam who popped in…he used to work here as a schoolboy on Saturday mornings in the 1970’s for the late Sam Chantry. Sam Chantry established Ironart in 1967 here in what used to be the local slaughterhouse!

If you missed it please come and see us next year!

 

 

 

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.

 

Ironart welcomes Alan Patterson & Adrian Booth

Alan Paterson - Ironart of Bath

Alan Paterson

 

We are delighted to welcome two new blacksmiths to the Ironart team. Alan Patterson is a highly experienced smith with many years of forging and some illustrious blacksmithing projects to his name. Before joining us here at Ironart, Alan ran Somerset Smithy in Frome. Alan’s knowledge will be a great asset to Ironart and we are really looking forward to working with him.

 

 

Adrian Booth recently graduated from Hereford college and came to us to gain on-the-job experience. During January Adrian worked with Jason on the Regency walled garden gates we have just completed and did a top job, earning high praise from his colleagues! He’s proving to be an invaluable member of the team and we look forward to tracking his career as a talented artist blacksmith of the future.

Adrian Booth

Adrian Booth

 

Coalbrookdale bench restoration

We have been commissioned to restore a number of lovely Coalbrookdale cast iron benches over the last few months. These items are becoming extremely sought after and are fetching high sums at auction so are well worth restoring. Here are two separate restoration commissions as an illustration of the kind of challenges the restoration team here at Ironart are tasked with.

The 1864 Lily of the Valley bench came in to us in  July 2014. It had already been blast cleaned and previously very poorly repaired. Martin and Cecilie took the old ‘bodged’ welds off and replaced with fresh welds and brackets where they were missing. They added bits of missing leaf work  which were carved from scratch out of cast plate. The bench was then reassembled (reusing the slats it had been sent with) and supplied to our client with a red oxide paint finish.

The second bench is a lovely Fern Coalbrookdale which came in to us in June. We took paint samples as it looked to us as if the original Coalbrookdale green paint was still in situ underneath the new layers. We had it cleaned  which revealed pinholes in the original casting (shown). The centre mount on the back of the bench was broken and there was a lug missing. All fixings had corroded so Martin had to drill and tap and make new bolts. There was a missing front slat mount, and another on the back. The bench was supplied painted and the client replaced the slats themselves.

If you have cast iron garden furniture that could do with some TLC and would like a quote to have it restored, please get in touch.

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.

 

 

Congratulations Jason Balchin AWCB

We are really chuffed to report that Ironart’s Jason Balchin has been awarded a Dipoloma of Merit by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths. Jason is a highly experienced and valuable member of the Ironart team and is highly deserving of this new and shiny feather in his cap.

Jason attended a ceremony in London on 16th October 2014 to receive his award from the Blacksmiths company. Heartfelt congratulations to you Jase, from everyone at Ironart.

Jason Balchin - Award Oct 2014 - web

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

Team day trip to Wolverhampton!

On Thursday the entire team downed tools and headed off on a sunny day trip to Wolverhampton! Andy wanted to introduce the Ironart team to some of our suppliers, to give everyone an insight into different aspects of the architectural metalwork “supply chain” and how it all works.

First we visited Legg Brothers steel rolling mill and soaked up the atmosphere inside their vast workshop. An awe-inspiring series of complex industrial machinery and some seriously heavy-duty manpower in full rhythmical production. It was an impressive sight.

Next we headed over to the fascinating Aladdin’s cave that is Barr and Grosvenor casting foundry on Jenner Street, where we met with Dominic and Lynn Grosvenor and their team for a full tour of their casting workshop. Dominic is a passionate advocate of traditional casting techniques and it was an absolute pleasure to meet him and a real treat to see his team of craftsmen at work in this unique environment. They kindly topped off our visit with a delicious lunch for which we were really grateful.

Finally our day ended with a whistle-stop tour of Edward Howell Galvanizing plant in Wolverhampton courtesy of Jim Lindsay and Kevin Addiss, where we all gazed in wonder at their enormous warehouses full of acid dip-baths and vats of hot moulten zinc. They were hard at work dipping rack upon rack of metal palisade fence posts…we’ll never look at palisade fencing again without remembering this experience!

Thank you so much to our generous hosts for giving up their time and energy to enlighten us, we absolutely loved it!

 

 

 

Large bow-topped entrance gates

Jason and James have just finished making an impressive pair of bow top entrance gates this week. Some of the forging was pretty heavy going as the stiles and faux columns are made up of 40mm square bar. These stunning gates were designed by Andy and based on the client’s brief. They feature snub-end C and S scrolls and circle details.  Pictured here are Jason Balchin and NADFAS apprentice James Cuthbertson. These gates are huge: 2.4m high and 4.3m wide – and when they were finally assembled they took some moving!