Monday, 31 December 2012

A Walk

The Oak and Ash wreathed mountain behind the house in wales was hung in mist today. I was searching for timber to haft a Gift-Axe I produced with my brother. The axe I will show you another time.



I found a small tree that had fallen a few years ago which was not rotten and covering part of the track. The trunk was quartered with a hand axe then wedges were made from the same timber.


The wedges are driven into existing cracks in the timber one after another. This method splits the timber easily but more importantly doesn’t compromise the natural strength of the wood


Next the best piece will be chosen and hewn to shape before being fitted to the head.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Shibuichi Cuff Complete

The cuff has now been completed and collected by my customer.

 It actually had two incarnations as a “finished” object.  Initially, the piece had a differential polish showing the binary nature of the alloy with one side being fine silver and the internal surface polished to the bare alloy which has a paler tone than copper.

Because Shibuichi contains both copper and silver, during annealing processes a deposit of silver is left behind as the copper oxide is cleaned away in acid.


After the customer saw the object in person, it was decided to proceed with a full polish. This was done with 800g paper and wire wool to finish.


Thursday, 20 December 2012

Royal Oak

In order to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth 2nd I was approached and subsequently commissioned to produce a piece of ecclesiastical furniture for the ancient Derbyshire parish of Melbourne. As a student of traditional English ironwork I was aware of Melbourne’s rich blacksmithing heritage as the home of the famous and celebrated smith, Robert Bakewell

 I had also in recent years had worked with the prominent Modern artist blacksmith, David Tucker in the area. Being presented with the opportunity to add to the rich blacksmithing heritage of the area was and is very exciting to me and I am grateful for it.

I have been producing components for several weeks and showing some of the progress here.

I am proud to say that the project has now been completed and delivered to the Church where I hope it will sit for the next 1000 years.

The tree at the centre represents the Royal Oak, one of the old symbols of the English monarchy. The different parts of the tree were joined in a charcoal forge by firewelding.

The roots were formed in the traditional “tendril” method displayed on much of Jean Tijou’s Baroque work on display at Hampton court palace

Tijou tendril


My roots
My roots were wrapped and twisted around the legs of the table to add rigidity to the form.

Once the tree was formed, the branches were adjusted and the dish, formed earlier, was engraved with the date and two oak leaves.


The final act was to meticulously apply a protective layer of pure beeswax to seal the surface and defend against rust. The atmospheric humidity of any building can be enough to cause damage to an unprotected surface, that said, Melbourne parish church has wall paintings that predate the reformation that have survived with minimal intervention.
The wax is applied with a heatgun and then rubbed in with a cloth whilst liquid
One of the other aspects of using beeswax is the immediate connection it brings to the existing ancient ironwork on the premises as this technique has been used to prevent deterioration of iron for an unspecified amount of time, possibly millennia.

 The finish is deep, rich satin.
Here’s the stand in-situ
This piece has been important for me. It has been a deep and involved process and I am thrilled to have it in its place.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Root and Branch

The first ice came this week. It bit my fingers and ached my toes, the sun did not touch the frost all day and our huffy breath hung and lingered about for ages before drifting off. The first few days of cold remind us of our latitude- a slight change in the wind and we have a climate closer to our Scandinavian cousins.
I am often told by others who are not there to witness my day to day that I am lucky indeed to have such a warm job in winter...
Warmth Is currency. Hoard it and appreciate it.
This commission has come to a crucial phase where I can begin putting the pieces together.


I have produced three decorative pins that pass through the vertical elements and the rim before being joined to a smaller internal ring with hand cut threads. The threaded pins screw into the central ring onto which the table plate sits.
The verticals have been entirely achieved with hand files and forgework

The plate has been hand beaten from 3mm steel plate.  The disk was first thickened on the edge by hammering vertically onto my stake anvil.


After this a circle was drawn 2.5” in from the outside and the sheet was beaten along this line into a recessed stump. The sheet was then worked hot using my charcoal forge to achieve the desired depth and form. To finish the bowl I used a variety of stakes and anvils.
One good point of making a table for someone is that the workshop gets a table!


The last part of this design is an oak tree that holds the three legs together giving stability to the table.  

 The parts for the tree have been coming together for a few weeks, including these leaves and tendril-like roots.


All of these components are prepared in sets and “forge-welded” together in a solid fuel forge.
Next I will construct the stem of the tree by joining the roots and the branches.

I took a few moments this week to make a quick knife aswell

Matierials here are Old steel, Wrought Iron, Red deer antler and copper tube rivets. all hand file work on the bolster.