Saturday, 29 November 2014

Lamb's House and Culross projects

So here are a few more pictures of the gates at Lamb's House which Jim took the last time he was out on site. He's done a lot of work for the interior of the house as well, but that was before I started to work for him. As for the gates, my job was pretty much just assisting in the installation. It was a great project to work on though and the house itself has been beautifully restored so if you are ever in the area, go and have a look!

Here are the 'small' gates (which to a small person like myself are still pretty big).

And here are a few photographs of the bigger gates.

Another project that I worked on recently was a set of gates which were for a National Trust property in Culross. Jim had a workshop with the kids from Culross Primary to get some ideas for the design and I think they really enjoyed it. The final design incorporated stylised medlar fruits which I had a lot of fun making...after a lot of trial and error on the most efficient way to make them. I also had more tapers to forge so with all this practice I'm getting a lot faster at making them.

So here are the medlar fruits being made (they were welded together by Jim).

And here are some photographs of the finished gates.

Here's a close up of the latch. Jim likes to make sure that the latches on all of his gates fit in with the design so they don't interfere with the overall aesthetic.

So that was a great project to be a part of and I would strongly recommend a visit to the Royal Burgh of Culross because it is apparently one of the most complete examples in Scotland of a Royal Burgh of the 17th and 18th Century.

Now, here I want to introduce you to the newest member of the team. This is...TITAN!

I know what you're thinking...why make such a big deal about a vacuum cleaner? Well for those of you who don't know me, I like to think that I'm one of the cleanest blacksmiths in the country, so having Titan to help out with the dust on site after an installation or just having a clean out of the workspace is just fantastic.
I don't actually get to use Titan very much because I tend to get carried away with cleaning and forget about the work I'm supposed to be doing...

I also got very excited the other day about another gift for the workshop. In fact I think my exact words were 'Christmas has come early, yaaaaaay!!!'. This was in reaction to these...

I've been looking for some nice leather work gloves for a while so THANK YOU JIM for finding these and letting me have a pair! It's pretty cold in the workshop so these are great and it also stops little scrapes from the ends of bars.

So that's what's been happening recently and in my next post I'll put up some pictures of the projects we're currently working on. I know I keep saying this, but I've been wanting to wait a bit so I can get some good photographs of the pieces nearly finished.

I'll say take care here and also if you're near Edinburgh anytime soon, check out the Christmas market at Princess Street Gardens. I was there last night and it was fantastic!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

More Work...

So, here are some more pictures from work.

This was one of the pieces that were made for Lambs House in Leith. I don't have any pictures of the set of gates, but here's some of the claire-voie going in.

Pretty impressive building isn't it? Well I found out recently that my granny grew up in the building just around the corner! Small World...

The next piece was great to work on and I got plenty of practice forging tapers. This was a set of handrails for a house near Edinburgh which look absolutely beautiful!

Here are the finished bars ready to be cut to size then carefully placed and welded onto the MASSIVE jig that was set up in the workshop. 

Here is a couple of pictures of my boss lining up the bars to weld into place. A lot of thought goes into pieces like this because it has to look right from a number of different angles.

This is everything coming together and a nice one of the welding process!

And this is everything back from the galvanisers.

And finally some photographs from on site of everything fitting into place!

Luckily we had some pretty good weather to fit everything and I think it really compliments the house. This is one of my favourite pieces that I've worked on so far, but we're working on a couple of very interesting projects at the moment, so I'll keep you posted on how they're going.

I think that's me nearly up to date on the things I've been working on, so hopefully the next post will be about the current projects!

Take care!

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Saint Cecilia Saturday...

Today is Saint Cecilia's day. Saint Cecilia is the patroness of musicians and on this day each year I deliberately don't play or listen to music so that the next day I can appreciate it all the more.

 I had a long drive this morning and it was really hard not to sing in my head or think about making up a few tunes on the way! I guess I just wanted to make a point that it really is a huge part of my life and I'm so glad it provides me with inspiration and happiness.

Here's a track for the day. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Take care and have a happy weekend

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Work at the Blazing Blacksmith's...

So, as promised here are some photographs of commissions that I've helped my boss with since starting work at the Blazing Blacksmith.

One of the first things I worked on was making a set of chair frames and to be honest they weren't very easy to re-create. One of the challenges of trying to replicate the chair frame was that the original wasn't symmetrical, so it was a case of trying to even out the measurements to get something that looked almost exactly like the original...

I think the next project I worked on was restoring a gate for a flat in Edinburgh which was nice, but involved replacing whole sections of the frame because the original had corroded quite a bit.

After that I made some sign holders...

Then I made some massive tree guards...for guarding yew trees from hungry deer. This involved me practicing slot punching on a lot of flat bar and it took up quite a lot of space...mostly because I had the bars in different piles depending on what stage they were at. I like to call it organization, but I suppose they may have made it quite hard to reach half of the workshop...

Then welding everything together took up even more also looked like I was welding very large bird cages...

And finally the finished tree guards on the trailer ready to go.

That brings us up to July, although I should point out that there's a lot of small things I was working on (components for gates etc.) that I haven't photographed because I'm supposed to be working while at work, not taking pictures...

I'll add more in the next post and hopefully catch up to the current work, but for now I'm away to make a cup of tea.

Take care

Monday, 17 November 2014

Summer 2013 - Winter 2014


I'm not going to dwell too much on last Summer because it was well over a year ago now and I'd love to catch up to the present.

My Summer was great and I had a lovely time living and working on the Isle of Lewis for a few months. I like having such a change of pace in the Summer because it rejuvenates me and makes me feel inspired again.

I found out that I didn't get the job I had applied for in Warwickshire. I was a bit sad for a while but I know I wasn't right for the job. I spent a few months up in Lewis then headed back to Oatridge College to continue working on my own creations and help out.

That lasted until the Winter and I decided that I wouldn't continue to use the forge there. I had a lovely time in Germany just before Christmas and got to see a lot of craft markets which were very beautiful.

Then I had a lovely Christmas followed by a few weekends snowboarding which was absolutely fantastic. It makes me very happy, and when I'm happy I can work very productively which I think is the case with most people.

Unfortunately, shortly after this amazing few weekends I ended up hurting my leg pretty badly so it was a bit difficult to walk for a while and I wasn't really thinking about forge work at all.

However...I received a message from my work colleague from Oatridge College saying that my old work had had a phone call from another blacksmith asking if they knew anyone who could help him out and my name had been mentioned!

I worked up the courage to phone and made arrangements to meet him at his workshop to find out details about what kind of work I'd be helping with.

I think that must have been about late March or Early April, and I'm happy to report that I'm still working there!

The gentleman I work for is called Jim Whitson and his company is 'The Blazing Blacksmith'. Here's a link to his webpage

I found it a bit difficult to start with as I'm sure anyone going into a new job finds it...and I'm not going to lie...I made a fair few mistakes.

I also had a bit of a problem with my back again and ended up getting physio sessions...again...which was difficult to work around although work was in itself was difficult because I had to be careful not to damage my back further. I had a lovely physiotherapist and I'm so grateful for all the help I received.
I'm also very grateful for not being fired for missing so much work, so thank you Jim!

I think I'm making real progress and I honestly love working here. I don't have as much time to work on my own projects, but the work I'm helping Jim with is beautiful and I'm learning so much from him.

In the next post I will update you with some pictures of the projects we've been working on, but I want to state that the photographs are of work designed by Jim Whitson and if you want to share them you need to get his permission first!

Thanks for reading and I will keep you posted about what's going on!

Take care. 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A Year Later...'s been far too long since I've written anything on here. I have so much to say but I don't think I would be able to write it all in one post, so I'm going to make a real effort to try and fill in what's been happening in my year (and a bit) of blog silence!

The last post ended just before I was off to my Summer job in Loch Croistean Cafe on the Isle of Lewis, so I will start from there in the following post when I will hopefully have more time to write everything.

Take care and have a good day!