Overthrow restoration update

We blogged about this project two weeks ago. The team are continuing to restore the Bartlett Street sign overthrow here in the Ironart workshop. These pictures tell the story of the restoration work as it progresses under the expert eye of Martin Smith. For more information about Ironart’s Restoration services follow this link to that area of our website. If you have a project in mind and would like some advice about where to start, please get in touch.

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…

Ironart fruit cages in Gardens Illustrated magazine

Ironart are featured in Gardens Illustrated magazine this month. The magazine’s July issue which went on sale last Friday – includes a design sourcebook editorial page on “Fruit cages: made-t0-measure garden solutions to protect your fruit and vegetables”. The editors picked up on a gothic fruit and vegetable cage we made for talented Garden Designer Marion Mako, which graces a beautiful garden near Colerne on the edge of Bath. Here’s a link to that particular gothic bespoke fruit cage on our website. If you grow fruit and vegetables, have a  problem with birds and would like an elegant solution to the problem.. please get in touch.

Fruit cage design by Marion Mako Gardens  www.makogardens.co.uk   01453 872 041 
 
Gardens Illustrated - July 2015

Bath Abbey Lectern repair

Not a big project, but great to have the chance to work inside Bath’s beautiful Abbey repairing the foot of their historic lectern – here are some pics of Luke fitting new heavy-duty casters to the base. The inscription on the lectern reads…“Presented to the Bath Abbey Church on its restoration by Ann G Bligh as a memorial to her late beloved husband Richard Bligh who died Aug 19, 1869”

 

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.

 

 

A cast iron jigsaw puzzle

One of the most satisfying projects we’ve undertaken recently was the restoration of this beautiful cast iron Coalbrookdale Nasturtium bench.

Cast iron is a durable metal and was (and still is) used frequently to make garden furniture, because it can withstand the elements while allowing the designer to introduce a high level of detail and decoration. The drawback of using cast iron is that it is susceptible to cracking if it’s dropped, which is exactly what happened to this particular bench.

Coalbrookdale benches are very sought after these days, it’s possible to date a bench by looking closely at the diamond stamp which were imprinted onto all manner of products. See attached image.

“From 1842 to 1893 products registered with the British Patents Office were given a distinctive diamond mark bearing a code which summarised the material (class 1 for metals), the day, the month and year of registration and the bundle of documents at the Public Record Office where the patent is to be found.”

Cast iron date marks

 

If you are lucky enough to own one of these historic benches, and would like to know more about our restoration service and what it’s likely to cost, please follow this link.

Martin painstakingly recreated this original bench using the myriad of pieces supplied. The pictures below tell the story of the restoration. We’re delighted to say this particular story has a happy ending!

 

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.

 

Two week placement at Ironart for Stacey Hibberd

Welcome to Stacey Hibberd who is spending two weeks with us here in the workshops at Ironart. Stacey’s ambition is to become a metal conservator, specialising in ironwork restoration. She already has a diploma in blacksmithing and metalwork under her belt, having studied at Warwickshire College under Michelle Parker. Stacey is currently in her second year of a foundation degree in Jewellery and Silversmithing at Truro and Penwith College (Plymouth University) and has been accepted to study the Graduate Diploma in Metal Conservation at West Dean College.

It’s only day two at Ironart for Stacey, who is currently making six hanging basket brackets – reproductions of an original we were asked to match. They are forged from 14mm round bar with a drawn out and twisted end, reminiscent of an auger bit. She is working under the supervision of Workshop Manager Jason Balchin who said that she’s approaching the job with “enthusiasm and attention to detail!”

 

Afternoon tea anyone?

These highly unusual cake stands were made for Ian Taylor at The Abbey Hotel in the centre of Bath by talented blacksmith Cecilie Robinson.

They were made to Ian’s design and incorporate delicate glass fruit by Adam Aaronson of contemporary glass studio Aaronson Noon. The organic ‘branch and leaf’ design created a series of challenges for Cecilie, not least trying to ensure that they were all exactly the same. These pictures tell a step-by-step story of the cake stands as they took shape in the Ironart workshop, at times giving the illusion of an enchanted forged steel forest! This was a really fun project to work on, and the bespoke cake stands look fantastic inside the Abbey Hotel. (ps. Apparently they also double up as very useful hat and coat stands….who knew?)

James Cuthbertson’s Nadfas apprenticeship

Nadfas

We can hardly believe it but James, who joined us as an apprentice architectural ironworker, has now been at Ironart for three full years. The apprenticeship became available thanks to a generous NADFAS grant. James is a hugely valued member of the Ironart team and throughout the last 12 months he has been working with increasing autonomy.  “I’m now being tasked with interpreting individual projects from a hand drawn sketch. It’s down to me to choose the materials, make the piece from scratch and resolve details in a way that looks good”.

As well as project-managing bespoke ironwork commissions, James has been furniture-making and involved in several ironwork restoration projects. He has also been using his knowledge of CAD software to assist Andy with design. James says of his experiences:“This third year has been a positive experience. I’m happy that I made this decision, it was the right journey for the right reasons. The apprenticeship has opened more avenues and curiosities than I could have envisaged – the people I’ve met and places I’ve worked. I’ve gained a valuable insight into the processes around our craft. I’ve enjoyed the extra-curricular stuff we’ve done too, the day trip we went on in 2014 to Wolverhampton (to visit Legg Brothers steel mill, Barr & Grosvenor Foundry and a huge galvanising plant) helped to improve my breadth of knowledge.”

Jason Balchin, one of Ironart’s workshop managers writes…“James’ confidence and  competence is at a very good level. He is able to work under his own instruction and complete jobs from start to fruition. He has come on in leaps and bounds. He has a consistent, high level of finish and attention to detail. He has a good technical mind, he is the main machinist, as an example he is our go to-man for any lathe work. James is a real asset to the company.”

If you are also interested in becoming a blacksmith there are various routes to get into the craft, read through our ‘Guide to getting into metalworking’ which we hope will give you a starting point. Don’t forget we run one-day blacksmithing workshops here at Ironart, follow this link for more information.

PDF: Guide to getting into metalworking