Thursday, 14 February 2013

A day for the heart...

So it's Valentines day and I thought I should share some of the pictures I took a couple of weeks ago of the hearts I've been making. I started making them as tree decorations before Christmas time and sold quite a number at a few markets, so I thought I would make some more! I've made well over a hundred of these little beauties and they are all slightly different sizes and designs because I used scraped material from the students to make them.
Happy Valentines day everyone and I hope you had a lovely day!

Monday, 11 February 2013

A very good blacksmith birthday!

So normally I wouldn't say anything about today being my birthday, but it was a very good day! I went to work feeling a little lonely, but was greatly cheered by my lovely boss who always manages to make me smile. I got some of my own work done in the morning which consisted of straightening twenty bow shackles, cutting off the ends and re-forging them into useful, 8mm lengths of material! I live by the saying 'waste not, want not' so I like to re-use as much of the 'scrap' material as I can.

After that I made some tools and then went for a lovely walk around lunch time. Then I was looking after the students for the afternoon which was great because they are all really nice and are working very hard at the moment to finish off folio pieces and practice for their exam! I really enjoy being able to help people with their forging and it gives me a great sense of pride when I can see the students making such excellent progress!

After a long and eventful day I finally got back to the house to find a few birthday cards at the door and then a multitude of texts and messages from friends who I miss very much!

Thanks to everyone who made this day so lovely!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Summer, Autumn and Winter 2012

So after New Designers I packed up my things and headed out of Hereford to work at my summer job on the Isle of Lewis. It was very hard to say goodbye to all the wonderful friends I made (and all my houseplants) as well as the great tutors, but I will keep in touch with everyone as we all try to move on and use what we've learned to set up our workshops or start our own businesses!
I feel very privilaged to have been able to complete the blacksmithing course at Hereford and work alongside such great characters who have taught me so much and really inspired me to work harder and learn as much as I can about the art of blacksmithing. I think it was a fantastic experience and I feel that my confidence has grown so much in a relatively short amount of time, so thank you to all who helped me along the way, you know who you are!!

I made my way straight to the island and set up in my wee caravan for a month before travelling back to Hereford for graduation! It was a great day, although I only had enough time to graduate, say a few hello's and then a few more goodbyes so I could catch my flight back to Stornoway.
I think the highlight of that day was when John Makepeace (who was made a Fellow of the university earlier that day) shook my hand on stage and said that he loved my work and was excited to see what I would do next. I had been to a seminar he was running a few months before and I was awed by the quality of his work, so to get a compliment from him made my day that much more special!
If you don't know his work, you should have a look here

After travelling back to Stornoway I worked for another few months then headed back to mainland Scotland for a wee while. Then I was off again to Denmark to look at a couple of forges where I might have the chance to work for a while.
Let me just say that Denmark is very...flat! There are hardly any hills which is very strange after coming through the Highlands of Scotland!! It is a very beautiful landscape though, and I must say the architecture I found was absolutely amazing.
While I was there I went to quite a few different places and all of the wee towns were very quaint and had cobbled streets and very old buildings. I think that there is a lot more 'craft' work going on over there because if you walk through any town you will find a blacksmith or a woodcarvers workshop which just doesn't happen in Scotland.

Anyway, I saw quite a few places which were very interesting and I even got a quick tutorial on how to make a special punch which will be useful for hammer making! I only had a short amount of time there so it was a shame I didn't get enough time to do some real forging but it was great to see the places I had researched.

After coming back from Denmark I started to work at my old college and get on with some commissions and my own portfolio/gallery work. Since the end of the summer/early Autumn I have been working happily and will continue to work there until I feel I should move on.
I managed to make it to two Christmas markets after a horrible week battling illness and made quite a healthy profit selling little decorations and I also got a few commissions. In all they were very enjoyable and I will definitely try to get a stand next year at both of the markets.

So far 2013 has been great and I hope to update the blog a lot more frequently, so watch this space! I have recently been working with the freelance artist Michael Doig to give my blog a more professional look, so if you want to check out his work, here is the link

I will add photographs of the work I've been doing after graduating in the next post so take care for now and have a good day!

Thursday, 7 February 2013

London - New Designers!

Okay, so I'm going to apologise for not updating this blog in so long, but I have been here, there and everywhere since June!

Firstly there was the trip to New Designers in London which was absolutely incredible. Basically all of us made our own way to London to set up in one of the biggest design exhibitions for graduating students in the country. It was a great opportunity and I for one was very excited to travel to London, having never been before.

The day of the set up was pretty stressful and there was a lot to organise but everything turned out okay and we made rotas so that every day each person had a two hour shift. I have to admit I did not enjoy the heat in the building because there was no air conditioning in our area! Luckily the business design centre is in a pretty good location so during the week I went exploring every day using the underground.

Every morning started at 6am in a lovely wee hostel which I shared with three of my friends. I was out the door by half past and on the underground by 6.45am...
I made a plan at the start of the week to visit as many places as possible and used a map to figure out which line I had to go on and where to change. It turns out it's a lot easier to navigate than I first thought.

I went for a walk in Hyde park every morning and had breakfast before heading out to one of the locations on my list which included the Royal Albert Hall, Kew Gardens, The Tower of London, St. Paul's Cathedral and lots more! Every day I took a handful of my contact cards and handed them around places which I thought might be interested in my work, including the Royal Albert Hall where I managed to get a full tour. This was probably the best place I looked around while in London because I have always wanted to visit but have never had the time. The interior was incredible and I learnt a lot about the history of the building which was very interesting.
My second favourite place had to be St. Paul's Cathedral because I love the architecture of old cathedrals and churches as well as all of the ironwork. I also went on a tour there but this time the information was on an ipod! Basically you could walk around the whole building and select the area you wanted to know more about and then listen to the recording. It was a beautiful day when I visited, so the view from the top of the roof was incredible. I also counted the steps on the way to the cathedral and the way back, and in total I climbed over 3000 steps that day!!!

When I was on my shifts at the Business Design Centre, I had a lot of good feedback from everyone who took an interest in my work and made quite a few contacts at the exhibition. I also managed to get a few commissions from people and was accepted into the Society of Designer Craftsmen, so on the whole it was a very good experience.

Here are some pictures from London and thanks to everyone who was involved in the exhibition and made it happen!