The challenge I took on with this pair of new gates was both practical and artistic. The client wanted something artistic that would also serve as a functional barrier to shut out the outside world. These new gates, with barely a foot of straight steel within them look quite striking outside our forge on the Rye Road just outside Hastings. They are finished with a matt grey powder coating and fitted and incorporate a traditional gate journal and pivot within a very contemporary gate design.
I don’t often work with sheet metal as it’s more of a tinsmith’s job, but when I was asked if I could cover the concave roof of this elliptical pergola in Hastings I couldn’t resist the challenge. I’m as pleased with the result as the client.
It’s great to work with craftsmen that use other materials. So I was really happy when I was asked to make some curved hinges for these amazing and very heavy oak gates recently. The design required traditional hinges that couldn’t just bear the weight but match the beautiful steamed and curved oak woodwork.
It’s an honour to have made something to compliment someone elses craftsmanship.
Sandown Schools newly forged symbol of learning
There’s nothing I love better than a public art commission, because it gives me an opportunity to do work that’s artistic and create work that’s seen by thousands of people. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been forging this life size tree for Sandown Primary School in Hastings. It now sits pride of place at the entrance to the school and the school has now redesigned all their uniforms to embrace include an image of the tree.
The forged tree before it was shot blast, zinc sprayed and powder coated
I’ve just finished this pond cover for a client in an Edwardian house in Hastings. They wanted something that water lilies could grow through but also stop people falling into a hole in their garden. Some water twists, concentric circles, a few leaves and a beautiful azure blue finish has done the job.
One of the greatest properties of steel, it’s amazing plastic ability to form to any shape, is often missing from much of the metalwork you see in public. So when the good people at the Creative Foundation asked me to come with some ideas to protect a curved bay shop front on Folkestone I jumped at the chance. It was a challenge to make and fit these railings without them touching the ground, but also an opportunity to show what metal can do.
These railings are based upon the theme of disturbed water, because the building is at the confluence of two streams now hidden beneath the roads where the Wedge divides the flow of traffic. The upright bars fixed into the granite blocks under the windows are huge water twists which blacksmith’s would usually use on pokers.
With a white powder coat finish the result is a creative response to a technical challenge, right at the heart of Folkestone’s creative quarter,
A new bench by Thirsty Bear Forge blacksmith Jake Bowers will be unveiled tomorrow in Hastings’ Alexandra Park by the mayor and the local Quaker’s who commissioned it. Designed by craftsman Alan Wright and Jake Bowers, the bench was commissioned to commemorate the World War One in it’s centenary year.
After three weeks of forging a very strong base to support the seasoned chestnut base, a three meter spine and over 100 individually shaped fronds, the bench was sent for zinc spraying and powder coating. It was installed on Friday, but will be unveiled tomorrow at a ceremony to promote world peace organised by local quakers.
But here’s a sneak preview of a piece of work we are very proud to have made.
At the heart of Hastings’ Alexandra park is a peace garden where passers by are invited to contemplate the meaning of peace. In a year when we are all remembering the devastation caused by the first World War and impact of current conflicts from Ukraine to Gaza, I’ve been given a very timely commission.
In cooperation with local quaker craftsman Alan Wright, we’ve produced this design of a bench for the Peace Garden which will be installed in September. It involves matching a forged and fabricated steel base to a beautiful piece of local chestnut and forging a 3 metre long feather for those visiting the Peace Garden to recline against.
Forging out a 3 metre taper from 50mm round steel to form the central spine of the feather.
I’ve just finished this commission for a client in Suffolk, who wanted an outside fire pit for her garden that celebrated the nature of fire itself. Like many she enjoys sitting around a fire, but wanted something that looked as good as the rest of her home.
Mrs Buckley’s fire basket comes home
Much of the art of blacksmithing involves using symmetry or creating a mirror image of certain forms. But fire is organic, chaotic and asymmetrical with few repeating shapes. So with this piece I really enjoyed creating the shapes required on the anvil as I went.
Creating metal work that is beautiful starts with a pencil, I do a lot of sketching before I ever put any metal in the forge. When a detailed drawing has been agreed with a client, it’s only then that I start to produce a working drawing, often in chalk on a laying out bench so that the curve and shape of the steel I heat matches my original ideas.
A Candelabra that mimics the wind ravaged of trees of mountainous north Wales, where it was sent as a gift
Here are some pictures of some recent work produced over the last couple of months. They were all drawings at some point that slowly came to life.
A window grille that has brought some organic lines to the streets of South London
A heart dream catcher to ensure the sweetest of dreams
There’s no better traditional declaration of love than giving a blacksmith’s heart to your sweetheart. This one marks the fateful day that these two lovers met.