Going with the flow

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.

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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.

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A window grille that has brought some organic lines to the streets of South London

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A heart dream catcher to ensure the sweetest of dreams

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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.  

 

Spring forth

Upcoming picThis spring, Thirsty Bear Forge blacksmith Jake Bowers will be taking his bespoke metal creations to two local craft and design fairs. The first will be held this weekend in the Claremont Studios as part of a series of events celebrating local design and creative talent across the increasingly bohemian town of St Leonards. Jake’s work has been selected as part of an exhibition of UPCOMING local designer makers and will on show at the Claremont Studio in St Leonard’s Kings Roads from the 28th to the 30th of March.

On April 21st (Easter Monday) Jake will also be demonstrating blacksmithing at the first Artisan’s at the Abbey event held in the ground of Battle Abbey School right next to the site of the 1066 Battle of Hastings. artisans at the abbey pic

 

Art Nouveau companion set

Just like all blacksmiths, I produce companion sets so customers can have a shovel, poker and brush to tend their log fires or wood burning stoves. These tools together with a stand are collectively known as a companion set. This brief for this set was to produce something which mirrored the client’s love of all things art noveau. The stand, in particular, captures the light, gravity defying lines used in Art Noveau architecture, but gathers them in with simple steel wraps.

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I also produce simpler sets of tools or just one off pokers.

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Golden leaves

When a private client asked for something to brighten up her garden patio in winter, we knew exactly what she needed – a tree that never looses it’s leaves. This traditionally fire welded tree shows the fluid properties of forged steel to great effect. A touch of golden and silver paint makes it feel regal no matter what the weather is. silvertree

All fired up

We’ve just completed a great commission for a new shop in Hastings. The Fire Shop will be opening in the new year of 2014 selling a great range of traditional and contemporary woodstoves. The new venture will compliment their existing business fitting stoves and chimney systems. But the shop, which they have completed renovated, needed a new set of railings and hand rails to divide it’s split floor. IMG_0604

So we designed, built and fitted these forged farbicated fire themed railings for them. They looked great in red, but even better in black. We’ll also be making a range of companion sets, fire guards and hopefully our own woodburning stoves for the shop in 2014. IMG_0666

Replica 1912 New Forest Gypsy Lanterns

 

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We’ve just completed a very interesting commission for artist Delaine Le Bas. Delaine needed two replicas of some lanterns she had found in the Pitt Rivers Ethnological Museum at Oxford University which were made by Gypsies in the New Forest in 1912. She will be using them in a film she is making.

The video blog below, shows how we made them:

Making a Replica 1912 New Forest Gypsy Lantern from Jake Bowers on Vimeo.

This short video shows how artist Blacksmith Jake Bowers made two replica 1912 New Forest Gypsy Lanterns. They are based upon two found in the internationally renowned ethnological museum the Pitt Rivers Museum by Romany artist Delaine Le Bas.

Thirsty Bear Blacksmith wins top prize

A Blacksmith from the Thirsty Bear Forge has won two top blacksmithing prizes. Artist Blacksmith Jake Bowers won the much coveted top blacksmith shield as he completed his 2 year extended diploma in Blacksmithing at Plumpton College in Lewes, East Sussex.  He also beat hundreds of other students attending the college to win the top practical student cup, the first ever blacksmith to do so in the college’s 100 year history.

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He is pictured above with his Blacksmithing tutor Ricky Delaney, Fellow of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths. Jake Bowers has also been awarded his Journeyman’s Certificate below by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, one of the original craft guilds founded in London in 1299.

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Garden Centre spices up its extension by supporting an ancient craft

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When times are tight, there are few businesses that would dare to expand and support an ancient local craft in the process. But when the Wychcross Garden Centre, one of the principal independent garden centres left in the south east, designed their newly built extension they went looking for something special to decorate it with.  As one of the country’s leading rose specialists they were spoilt for floral choice, but decided that there’s nothing quite as evergreen as ironwork. By collaborating with artist blacksmithing students at Plumpton College and a local firm of artist blacksmiths, they have recently unveiled a set of decorative railings unlike any other.  The newly installed plant themed railings have been wowing customers ever since.

 

John Hacker, Director of the Wychcross Garden Centre in Forest Row, East Sussex said. “When we set about building our new extension I wanted something that was unique and not mass produced to decorate the exit. I think it was Gaudi who said that beautiful ironwork was the ‘seasoning of good architecture’, so I contacted the Blacksmithing Department at Plumpton Agricultural College to see what they could produce.”

A three month long project by Plumpton students created 4 metres of railings that was directly inspired by the garden centre’s products and its Christian ethos. Led by Plumpton Blacksmithing Tutor Ricky Delaney, a group of 6 students produced an innovative design as part of their BTEC qualification in the ancient art of producing hand crafted metalwork.

Railings produced by Plumpton Blacksmithing students

Railings produced by Plumpton Blacksmithing students

 

 

But as winter turned into spring, a further 17 metres of railings were required to match the student’s work before the building could open, so Wychcross turned to the Thirsty Bear Blacksmithing Company in Five Ashes, East Sussex to complete the job. Working around the clock and employing students from Plumpton, the company produced 17 metres of tulip style railings which were installed in early May. The project has been the first large scale commission for the newly formed company which is already employing young blacksmithing graduates from Plumpton.

“Blacksmithing is an ancient art that’s been dependent on the iron ore and coppice woodlands of the Sussex Weald since before the Romans,” said Jake Bowers, director of the Thirsty Bear Blacksmithing Company. “On this new building, the Wychcross Garden Centre has shown how supporting a local craft not only reinvigorates local employment and culture, but creates works of art that benefits all.”

John Hacker says his customers couldn’t more please with the railings. “They really do love them,” he says. “When we first commissioned them it was purely because of the design, but I’ve realised that we’ve also done a great thing for a local craft at the same time.”

Thirsty Bear tulip railings have been wowing customers every since they were installed

Thirsty Bear tulip railings have been wowing customers every since they were installed