Supporting Young Blacksmiths

16-year-old Loris on a work placement in the workshop

We continue to support young blacksmiths in developing their skills. Over the last couple of months, we have been happy to have Matthias Kuhn, a German Journeyman continuing our tradition of placements. Matthias is in his 6th year of training. During January he has been using the workshop a couple of days a week to get his portfolio ready for applying to study at Steneby Institute of Craft and Design. Steneby is host to Europe’s largest academic metal/blacksmithing workspace and is a brilliant place to study for anyone interested in a career in ironwork.

Matthias tells how in Germany the traditional Journeyman is a familiar sight. Journeymen traditionally don’t use any technology including a smartphone. They cannot spend money on transport and rely on lifts, mainly hitchhiking. This means they meet many people on their travels and get jobs along the way. Exploring different workshops means they learn a wide variety of skills by seeing how smiths work differently across many settings. Journeymen have to remain 50km away from their hometown and they travel and work this way for 3 years and 1 day. Interestingly, Matthais has chosen not to do it the traditional way as he wants to travel beyond Germany and as people don’t recognise the tradition outside Germany it makes things difficult. Matthias is doing his own modern version! We wish him much luck with his plans for studying at Steneby and for the future, it has been a pleasure to have him at Ironart. 

Following on from this we also have local, 16-year-old Loris Sarkissian on a work placement in the workshop, 2 days a week. Loris started studying at Hereford College this September, 3 days a week. He came looking for a work placement for the two days a week he is not at college, to get even more experience. We are happy to welcome Loris into the workshop.

James Cuthbertson – apprenticeship update

Amazingly James, Ironart’s apprentice ornamental metalworker,  has been here for one whole year this month. He has fitted into the team so well it’s hard to remember what life was like without him. He is such an asset to Ironart both in terms of his metalworking skills, his common-sense approach to everything and his ability to make us all laugh and see the funny side of even the most depressing situation!

Since we last blogged about James’ apprenticeship he’s been involved with a vast number of key projects here at Ironart. He’s been out on site fitting with Andy, Luke and Jason quite a bit. Most notably a huge set of gates which we made for a private house in Orpington, and an internal balustrade in London. Both were tricky, technical projects. Back in the Ironart workshops in Bath he’s been assembling garden furniture and assisting the other members of the Ironart team with everything from garden benches to gothic chandeliers and the beautiful, contemporary meadow gate.

James is now into his seventh week of his ten week course at Hereford College. (He’s doing the Blacksmithing Design & Forgeworks skills course on a block-release basis). Just recently they’ve been studying repoussee under the expertise of reknowned artist blacksmith and lecturer at Hereford Paul Allen.

As ever we are extremely grateful to NADFAS, the National Association of Decorative and Fine Arts Societies. Without their support this apprenticeship simply would not have been achievable.

James Cuthberston - Ironart's apprentice

James Cuthberston – Ironart’s apprentice

ps: We just heard that James passed his college maths exam with 100% – Norton Radstock College have never had a student pass with such a high mark – they are all amazed. James Cuthbertson you are a man of many talents and we salute you!