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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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

Gateway to the Chateau D’Oiron…Trial Fit

With the gates meticulously assembled, they were now ready for transportation by trailer to the Wiltshire residence for which they had been made.

It’s fair to say there was a general air of nervous excitement…today was a big day and just days before Christmas.

Each gate was carefully lifted by crane and gently lowered onto the bronze bushes. The Ironart team of Andy, Jason and Alan watched with baited breath as each gate was set down…and to everyone’s great relief – after three months of hard work – the gates fitted beautifully! No adjustments needed.HDG 261215 014

Trial fit completed, it was back on the trailer for the gates to be thermal zinc sprayed ahead of painting.

More to follow so watch this space!Trial Fit 3

Ironart attends NHIG’s inaugural best practice seminar

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.

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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.”

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Notes were taken of the outcomes which will inform the content for future guidance and advice produced by the NHIG.

Andy said:

“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.”

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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

Road trip to the BABA AGM

Andy and James took some time out of the busy Ironart schedule, packed up one of the vans and headed north to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield for the annual AGM and conference of the British Artist Blacksmith Association last weekend.  Sounds like they had a great time. James took some pics and talked to me about his experience:

“It was really good to put faces to the names I read about in the BABA magazine and blacksmiths I’d heard about during my days at Hereford College.  The AGM gave me the opportunity to meet some of the people who have written books that I’ve read, and whose work has inspired me.  I got to chat to other UK blacksmiths who are in a similar stage of their career as me, we discussed ideas and future plans; and I talked to a French compagnons-du-devoir journeyman who shared his experience of this well-established infrastructure and learning model, which seems much more integrated than ours. BABA had organised some really interesting debates and discussions about the future of blacksmithing in general. Peter Parkinson’s drawing lecture was a particular highlight, along with meeting Alan Dawson, founder of Adaptahaus and the collaborative artist blacksmith Henry Pomfret. I’d definitely go again and recommend it to others – there were so many ways you can get something out of an experience like this.”

 

 

Bartlett Street Overthrow Restoration

These pictures tell the story of an intriguing restoration project we have in the workshop at the moment.We have been commissioned by the Bartlett Street Antiques Centre in Bath to survey,  dismantle and restore this beautiful 6m wide overthrow which has, for many years been hanging high over Bartlett Street, a picturesque pedestrian side street in Georgian Bath’s main shopping district.

We are still not sure exactly how old this lovely wrought iron overthrow is but probably late 19th Century. Martin Smith is overseeing the restoration of the whole piece, carefully cataloguing each section and ensuring the appropriate repairs are made at each stage of the process.  Stacey Hibberd, Cecilie Robinson and Adrian Booth are all assisting Martin in the restoration. It’s such a beautiful piece of original wrought ironwork and our whole team appreciate the level of craftsmanship and care that went into it’s making. We can only wonder how many million people have strolled underneath this overthrow without even noticing it! When restored and back in situ the gantry will incorporate some new, bold lettering to catch the eye – “Bartlett St Quarter” – more pics to follow as work progresses…

National Heritage Ironwork Group (NHIG)

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tour of Britain Sun Flower

On Friday the sixth stage of the Tour of Britain bike race kicked off in Bath. As many of you will know (the Wiggo sideburns are a dead giveaway) cycling is something that is very close to Andy’s heart – so no prizes for guessing who took full advantage of this wonderful photo opportunity!

Ironart’s Sun Flower was perfectly positioned as a backdrop as the peloton raced along Great Pulteney Street, zoomed past the sculpture on the Bathwick Hill roundabout, then headed off along Pulteney Road and out of Bath towards Bradford on Avon and Trowbridge. It was over in a flash, but it was a very beautiful moment.

 

 

 

 

Contemporary forgework – The Poppy Panel, Clevedon

An album of images showing a lovely forged ‘Poppy Panel’ made earlier this year by the Ironart team.  This short section of decorative balustrading was inspired by Ironart’s impressive Meadow Gate project. It was designed to provide a division of space and focal point in a private courtyard garden in Clevedon (between Bristol and Weston Super Mare.)

This panel incorporates forged poppies, scrollwork, grasses, leaves and decorative fauna and was really fun to make. For more info on the Meadow gate which was the starting point for this design, follow this link. To talk to us about commissioning contemporary forged ironwork for your own home or garden please call Andy on 01225 311 273

The ‘Sun Flower’ Sculpture, Bathwick Hill

Andy and the team were up at the crack of dawn on Saturday 14th June to set up the spectacular ‘Sun Flower’ sculpture on the roundabout at the bottom of Bathwick Hill in the centre of Bath. The pictures we’ve blogged below tell the story of the sculpture installation. This is the culmination of months of hard work and preparation and we are all incredibly excited about it. We have been working closely with Bath and North East Somerset Council Parks & Grounds department to ensure this exciting new 4.7m high structure is on display for the 50th Anniversary of ‘Britain in Bloom’ in July. Striking pieces of public art always ignite a public reaction and with any luck this will get everyone talking…which is exactly the response we want. Join the debate on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @Ironart_of_Bath

Ironart Bathwick Hill Sunflower Sculpture 2014

The Sun Flower was conceived by Andy and hand made by the team here in Larkhall. Informed by his love of the natural world, geometry, and engineering, the design continues his exploration of forms and processes used in his everyday work as an architectural ironworker. “I had a completely open brief for this sculpture which wasn’t conceived as a literal manifestation of a sun flower but as an ‘’homage to the sun’, that universal force radiating its energy to us all. It represents life and growth, the fire we work with, an opportunity to fuse traditional skills with contemporary design”(Andy Thearle, Ironart of Bath)

Please spread the word……It’s FOR SALE! It’s anticipated that it will be in situ for 12 months. Ironart and BathNES Council are looking for a company or individual to secure it for the future within the City. The sculpture carries a price tag of £20,000 + vat, but is offered at £15,000 + vat by Ironart to secure it as a piece of public art for the city. Interested parties should contact the Ironart team on 01225 311 273.

More (really techie) information about the Sun Flower sculpture!

The Ironart Sun Flower stands 4.7m high x 4.5m at its widest point and weighs approximately 750kg. It was made in mild steel which has been galvanized. It stems from a 450mm base which is attached to 1800kg of underground ballast to stop it keeling over! The supporting legs are 70 x 20m rectangular sections which were cold rolled with ends that were tapered and scrolled in the forge. The legs are secured to the foundation metalwork by 2 no. M16 bolts per leg. The flame details are a combination of 50 x 10mm and 50 x 20mm sections which have been cold rolled then hand-shaped, with hot forged ends. The petals are constructed from 34mm heavy wall tube which were rolled, mitred and welded. Leg/flower connections have been made with 50 x 13mm metal collars with 3 no. M10 bolt fixings. Absolutely everything was done in the Ironart Larkhall workshop by our skilled team of artist blacksmiths with the exception of the cold rolled 70 x 20mm legs which we outsourced due to their size.
The legs are finished in a combination of Bronze Green and metallic paints from the Ardenbrite range. The stripes are in Light gold and Copper. The flower petals in Green Gold, the flames in Sovereign Gold.
The tricky installation was carried out by a team of five people, using a purpose-built 4.5m high gantry bolted to the foundations, with a block and tackle combined with good old fashioned man power and ingenuity!