I have recently returned from an amazing trip to Sweden where I not only have I realised that I'm not alone in my ideas about what forging is but what I can take from forging. Its not just about an aesthetic it can be all about the process and that process can allow me as an artist and an engineer some truly amazing things. I truly believe that forging has something to offer me and my creative process. I’m not saying I'm a blacksmith and I don't really want to but I'm really starting to value the process. when done right its fast, impressive and rewarding but really difficult.
There where two reasons for my trip to Sweden one was to visit a college called Steneby and the other was to meet a blacksmith or industrial free forger called Roger Lund. Both of witch have inspired me and I’m going to try really hard to uses forging not only to inform my work but to raise awareness for the trade; And I really think this is possible. Roger and Stenby are both very modern working environment not only in work practice but in ideas. Its nice to know that we didn't fight two world wars and pull are stubborn top hat wearing arse out of the Victorian age for nothing. In fact it just seems that the only stubborn top hat ware fools also still think they haven't become part of the EU ether. (Sorry to all my silly leaf making, Vikings, shouty friends but that will be my last bad comment, Oh and that one as well.)
Steneby runs a number of craft based cause that run from foundation to MA. They have courses in textiles to iron and steel and boast a massive range of facilities to allow a global selections of students to really push both art and design. I was really impressed by the range and quality of work. The work isn't really based on and round process but more what can be done using said process's and with a course leader like Heiner Zimmermann that’s to be expected. The college has also been the play ground for the great Albert Paley where he worked for a week with students and gave lectures and made a selection of sculptures. I am very interested in there design MA which I hope to attend one day. This course would allow me to freely explore ideas that I have about metal work and my own conceptual ideas.
I also went to meet a man who can only be described as Thor an industrial free forger called Roger Lund. I drove half way across Sweden to meet a man that does one of the rarest jobs in Europe; in a little village out side of a town called Kristinehamn. Roger produces high spec components that are used in industrial application and in the auto motive industry. Using a range of power hammers and upsetting tools Roger produces every thing from pinions for Porsche to Drive shafts for high spec plant equipment. He has amazing skills and works at an amazing speed. His control and skill allows him to be quite the smith and his understanding of process means that he can create very complex and accurate shape in amazingly rapid time. Roger forges 45Kg pieces of stock into pieces that have to be in tolerance of 2mm using a 800kg hammer and lose swage tools. I got to have a play on some of his hammers and lets just say he make it look silly easy. What Roger does for a living is very attractive to me and I think what he dose as a smith is very exciting. I mean out side of the finished piece and concept I don’t find most parts of forging very interesting. Its frankly long winded and hard work. And other than some high spec strength application and mass forging offers very little.
Before every one goes nuts and tells me about all there favourite part of blacksmithing I am aware that it has a range of unique and interesting aesthetics. This means very little if it fits nether the concept or the completed piece. The process it self is often a selfish part of enjoying what you make. Its something that is often miss understood by the viewer and the maker. Just because you can isn’t really a reason more of a selfish out look and I believe as makers and artist we owe more to are work. Roger uses his process because it works and it is the best way not cause he enjoys it. In fact what Roger does isn’t rare, but just the way he does it is. America produce about 7billion dollars of forged items every year and Europe produces a similar amount. Its just done with machines and multiple step dies.
Thank you to Otto Stevensonn and every one at Steneby all very friendly and helpful.
Super special thanks to Roger Lund amazing guy and super cool.
And a very super big thanks to Monkey, couldn't have done it with out ya. xx Love you very much xx