Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The Key to the Lock

So if you have read any of my blog entries to date you will know my views on blacksmiths and current ideas about what blacksmiths are in today’s culture. So this post might sound a little hypocritical but this is a topic that has interested me for quite some time now. I am looking at boxes and locks; I hope to be able to produce my own lockable boxes buy the end of the module. The making of locks was once the job of the local smith and this covered everything from door locks to safes all though the very early locks didn’t offer what more modern locks do. For the most part the lock offered a delay to help prevent the entry of the unwanted and not much more. These early locks are called warded locks and where more like obstacles before the latch could be opened. To open the latch the obstacles or wards had to be navigated and all this really took was time a blank key and a good set of files to cut the bare bones of the key. This is where the term skeleton key comes from filing a blank key to its bare bones.

At the start of the 1500’s lock making became a very specific job and the title of locksmith became a more common term. With Spanish smiths producing some of the finest locks in the world to coincide with their nation’s massive gold movement around the world which was greater than any other nation at the time. For the most part keeping good safe on ships created the demand for better locks. The safety of goods even extended to the crew of the ships moving these expensive goods around; pay and other possessions where often locked away on the ships safe box called the Armada box. These large wooden trunks quite often started out with single point warded locks and then became very intricate multi point locks that needed several keys to open them. The mechanisms of the safe boxes were often very beautiful and complex. But the complexities and beauty of the boxes, trunks and safes that contained gold and other expensive items could also kill you. Smith’s often rigged locks they could dismember fingers, limbs or even shoot you.

Then the mortise type lock was invented and has become very popular; this type of lock is often found in action today in are homes and places of work. This lock provides a level of security that only a well-trained person can overcome or for the simple minded the only way to gain access would be the complete destruction of the lock and all its bolts. We now have very complex and clever locks that have become the work of science fiction. They use computers and know when they are being picked and some become safer as they are picked. To be able to make a good lock today means one must be as clever and devise as the Spanish locksmiths that used brutal techniques in the past.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

I'm Back

Hello all, sorry that I haven’t been around much I took my eye of the ball a little; it’s been a long summer but I’m back. I have lots to tell you guys and loads to show you too. I’ve just started my 3rd year and I’m flat out with projects, essays and business plans. I’m going to try and post as much as possible and at some point in the not too far future I hope to have a web site up and running.

So the summer was nuts and to say I didn’t do much was an understatement. Some of the high lights were the royal welsh show in which I won the live event for students. I also installed the Fresh Air sculpture which I sold to the site owners; so it is now a permanent piece at Quenington. I also finished and installed the light which looks great.

Thanks to everyone how helped last year and I hope I can make this year as good.

Willow in the water


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Heavy Stock

Sorry guys this is a little late but I’ve been super busy. I have to do less drawing now so I’ll be able to get more stuff out to you soon. My making is going super well and my car is starting to feel the load of all this extra work like me. So the last couple of weeks has been spent cutting, bending, forging and moving silly heavy stock about and if I’m honest it’s been really quite hard. On the up side the whole experience is going well and I’m enjoying the process but I will need a brake after all this.

I’ll stick some pictures up so you guys and girls can see what I’m up to and how it’s all going. I also want to thank some people as none of this would be possible without them. My first shout out goes to Ambrose Burns whom is a bit of a legend in my eyes right now. Not only has he really started to get some amazing work out there but he has helped me no end and I’m truly grateful. Over the summer I hope to go round and make a couple of little blog posts and maybe some vlog posts about other blacksmiths and also guys on my course. I think I will start with Ambrose and show you some of his work and what he gets up to.

I also want to shout out to all the staff at HCA at the HE centre you guys are amazing and I think I’ll make a post about them and HE also as next year we are on the move. I want to thank SWS Special welding services on Plough Lane, Hereford thanks for all the help as well, especially Mike and Ian. They are sorting stock, bending stuff and water cutting quite a cool bunch of guys. Last and no mean lest thanks Paul and Andy at Pioneer you guys are amazing; it quite odd to feel as if you know so little after such a long time. Some of the nicest and brightest guys I have ever met. Thank you guy you are also super cool.
Thanks to monkey for all the support Love you xx

Sunday, 21 April 2013


This post is a little late because I have been waiting to show John and Elaine the design ideas for the hanging light. We also discussed finishes, types of lighting and timescale/costs so I’m now ready to go ahead and start making. I went to their home today to show them the design drawings and they seemed really impressed and positive.

The brief was to create a hanging light that was unique and contemporary; in form, design and technology. They were very keen to have a piece that used forge elements but the same time had other elements like machined components and glass. They also wanted much more than just a light, they had spent quite a lot of time looking for something to fill the space that they have asked me to work with. So I have taken a traditional twist on the cart wheel type of hanging light and made it very sculptural. The piece will be made mostly of steel and have some forged and machined brass components. And the lights will be stripped LEDs or flexing LEDs that can be controlled with a remote. Combining each of these to create something that John and Elaine seem to have fallen in love with. All that’s left is to make the piece and I hope they will like it as much as the drawings.

I’ve produced a range of drawings using sketches, more technical drawing and CAD. I have put some of the images that I created below hope you guys like.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

busy as a bee

What an amazing week, I will add it to the running list. So things just keep getting busier and better, I have just finished my first week with Paul at Pioneer prototype engineering. I also met up with John to discuss the hanging lights commission and I was offered it and will start work on that ASAP.
Next week I hope to collect the stock that Ambrose ordered for Fresh air for me and start prepping for college which restarts on 22 April. I have six weeks till assessment and then I believe I have two more weeks to fresh air. So I’m very busy and have to produce two pieces now by the end of term. As I have offered to complete Johns lights as part of my CP2. I’m currently working on drawings for the light and as far as concept goes it’s an open goal.
This Friday I went to see John and his wife Elaine and talk to them about the commission; we talked about what they wanted and what I could offer them. It was an absolutely amazing event and they have pretty much offered me free rein. They’ve asked me to produce a large hanging sculptural light that can be placed in their entrance hall. They would like some think fairly contemporary and very bespoke.

I took a long range of samples and some finished work to show them what I could produce and talk to them about my ideas and what I would like to produce for them. So bring on the drawing board I’ll keep you guys posted and share all the news as and when it comes.
Thank you to everyone who has helped me over the last couple of years. I’m at the point of making an idea into reality and I owe that to a handful of amazing people.
Dell, Ambrose, Adrian, Richard, Mel, James and all the other guys over at HE Hereford College of art.
Paul and Andy at Pioneer prototype engineering
John and his lovely wife Elaine thank you guys I couldn’t have done any of this without your help.
Also I owe a superduper thank you to monkey you are amazing and most of this has come about because I said hey, how’s it going.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Forgein at Bringsty

on 6 April 2013 I went to my first forgein at Bringsty forge. The forge is owned and run by three blacksmiths Adrian Legge, Henry Pomfret and Tony Ingerfield. Adrian and Tony are both tutors at Hereford technical College, they teach blacksmithing at Holme Layce agricultural College. The event was for one day and attended by a number of smith’s from across the country. We had a small forging competition based on the inspiration of the number three. After the competition we had a barbecue and people join together for singing and more forging.

I forged a piece for the competition but it was quite difficult to make some think as at some points there were 3 to 4 people sharing a fire and anvil. A made a piece that looked a lot like my most recent work and consisted of three components riveted together with brass rivets. I had a nice idea by cutting into the frame and pulling part of it out to make a leg. There was a really wide range of pieces made varying in size and style. Some pieces were very complex and took all day to make and others were very quick and easy. It’s was lots of fun and really nice to meet and work with lots of new people.

The competition was judged and I came nowhere, but first prize was the admiration of fellow competitors. Adrian then put some large sheets of steel onto the fires and we burnt some meat. The whole day was lots of fun and I learnt loads. Thank you Adrian, Henry and Tony I had a wonderful time and can’t wait for next year.

If you wish to find out more about Bringsty Forge or Adrian, Henry, Tony they have a website with contact details.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Well for you guys things just get better, that’s a hat-trick three out of three. I’m not going to make a habit of posting every night but it’s been an interesting week. So I was woken this morning by a phone call from a local engineer called Paul Wargent who owns a company called Pioneer prototype engineering. I visited him a few weeks ago to ask for some advice and help; he gave me both help and advice and also offered me somewhat more. As a result today I worked for Paul making some components on one of his CNC Mills.

As I stood at the machines waiting for it to finish a run so I could change the tool, I was approached by one of the guys in the workshop. After a chat he offered me my first blacksmithing commission and to be honest I was a little overwhelmed but it’s made an already amazing day even better. I must’ve killed at least six hours in the workshop today and I hope I was some help to Paul and Andy (whom I might have distracted ever so slightly.) So at the end of the day Paul approached me and offered me some work for the rest of the Easter break with the potential of becoming a member of his team.

I approached Paul with the intention of learning more about machining processes so that I could effectively use them in my work as an artist. And as an added bonus he also said that I would be free to use these facilities within reason in my own work.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

A Little Bit Extra

Looks like I’m spoiling you guys this week; this will be my second post in as many days. Yesterday I talked about having work photographed and put into a catalogue and the pictures are back. This is more like a top up post I guess. I also have some images of a new piece that I have been working on and hope you guys like it.

Alongside fresh air I am also completing several other modules; these are cultural studies, discourse, work based learning and contemporary practice 2. Each one of these modules demands separate and unique skill sets. Contemporary practice 2 is the most vocational of all four and is ultimately the reason I’m on the course. This piece that I have created has some correlation to fresh air but is a much more evolved idea. The reason that I am pursuing fresh air and CP2 alongside each other is because the evolution of the idea for fresh air is narrow and potentially weaker. This means more work for me but ultimately should be worth it.

Again I’m calling out to my audience what do you think? I’m interested as a maker your ultimately people who will receive my work. This might be in a visual context i.e. sculpture or viewed work in a gallery or you might be interested in buying one of my pieces making you a customer. This intrigues me and I’m really interested in what you think!

M and T XXX

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

How to Make 50Kg Float?

So I made a promise about blogging at least once a week and I’m going to try and keep it; I was worried I wasn’t going to be able to write very much this week. It’s been a very busy week and I haven’t done very much making but, I have been doing a lot of prep for projects that are coming up. I have also had formative assessments and production plan to hand in.

How do you make 50 kg float? This has been the big question of my week and as a result I have been crunching a lot of numbers. I have also been collecting quotes for stock, contracted work and commissions as a result have spoken to a lot of people. This has all been part of my Fresh Air project and I have been working on how I’m going to construct my Piece and there is so much to take into account. The finish Object is becoming quite the beast and is going to weigh somewhere in the region of 200 kg. Some of the stock sizes that I will be using is 50 square and as a result both cost wise and environmentally I have been looking for alternative suppliers (Scrap Metal and Reclamation). Other alternatives are very hit and miss as a result might not provide me with the best results.

One of the main qualities of my piece is the form and this will affect the overall feel of the work. Although there are only four major components in the sculpture each component must accurately and efficiently reflect certain ideas. Therefore the way I choose to construct components directly influences the overall feel of the finished object. Clean, crisp and accurate forms will allow me to create structure that looks elegant and strong but without compromise. So for the main body of the sculpture I have been looking at a third party creating this component. SWS (special welding services) has a 350 ton press brake, which I’m hoping that they will be able to fold an accurate and sleek arc out of 20 mm thick plates.
I have also been talking to some glassblowers about creating a vessel to float one end of the arm on my sculpture. Mathematically and visually this is proving very difficult; I want my work to look elegant and give a certain feel but at the same time I don’t want it to look like a toilet cistern. If the arm is able to float then it will interact with the water much more intuitively and give me the desired qualities that I’m looking for.

We also had to produce a small statement, visual representation and name for our work for the fresh air catalogue. This is all new to me and will be my first public display of my work. It’s quite exciting and interesting to be going through this process I must admit for the most part I’m not enjoying it but the overall experience from start to finish should be good. All educational side also working a lot larger than the normally would and I think this feels quite daunting. There is also a cultural exercise within this project to see how people take to my work. What they think as visually and conceptually.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Fresh From the Box

So this will be my first blog post using Dragon naturally speaking. I’m making a conscious effort not to use any typing if possible and to be honest it’s a little weird; but it works really well. So I’m not going to edit this at all. I have also got loads of new equipment like a drawing boards and I started using my scanner printer. So as a direct result I might be churning out more crap and waffling lots so here goes the post. Now my new laptop and software is here I should be able to post blog much easier as i made a statement earlier on in the year that I would be making a blog post every week. That hasn’t been the case and I also feel I should be talking more about myself and my work. So that will also be a change like as had previously I have some new equipment like a drawing board that was given to me with the parallel arms broken; and now that its fixed its really cool. I also got a lamp as a present which was also broken which is also fixed now. I have my laptop with all the cool gear and software so should be even easier to get some cool stuff done this year.

My new workspace

So a lot of my time this new semester has been taken up by a project called fresh air. Fresh air is a biannual sculpture exhibition that raises money for the fresh air trust. The opportunity that I have been offered is incredible, they want me and my class mates to fill a number of exhibition spaces that will have some where in the region of 16,000 people see them. I personally think this is an incredible opportunity and something that I have pressurised myself unnecessarily about. Saying that, I have got a place and the added pressure I guess has helped and hopefully I can create something really nice that will get me noticed.

Design border model

Fresh air takes place on the 23rd June in a small village called Quenington, in Cirencester. As students at Hereford College of Art we were asked to produce work that responded to the site. The piece that we create has to be based in our chosen profession and reflect ourselves and our concepts as designer makers; so I have chosen to create a piece that reflects the beauty of nature and innovation of the human mind. Hopefully my piece will show the unique balance that planet Earth is in. I’m hoping to create a piece that directly reflects the way I see the world around me, I have picked very direct visual influences that I will used to inform my ideas. These are based on seeing limbs of trees hanging into the waters that run to turn a once working water Wheel; I want my piece to directly reflect both of these visual experiences. So I hope that I will be able to produce a sculpture that looks both mechanical and organic and interacts with the water in the same way as the trees and the water wheel.

Scale model

So if you want to find out more about fresh air they have a website http://www.freshair2013.com/ and a Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/FRESH-AIR-Quenington-2013/220719344729151?fref=ts so go along and check out.

So this is a request to my readers. I do not know who you are, but I would like to. I get a lot of information on blogger about the people who view my posts, and a lot of these are quite random hits and as a result I’d like to know what you guys want to know about me and what I’m doing because that’s why you’re reading I think and I hope. So let me know what you like, what you don’t like and what you would like more of and questions if you have them because I’m sure there must be people out there with questions about all sides of forging and blacksmithing.

Some of my stuff

Dragon Naturally Speaking is amazing and has made writing this post really easy hence why I have waffled so much, if you like to know more about Dragon naturally speaking leave a message and I’ll try and get some information for you.

Thank you monkey “Cuppa Tea?” Love it. xx