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.
In this video blog entry, Thirsty Bear blacksmith Jake Bowers, explores the paradox of making beautiful metal work
Thirsty Bear Forge from Jake Bowers on Vimeo.
This 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.
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.
I also produce simpler sets of tools or just one off pokers.
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.
I’ve just finished this Native American inspired gate for a private client, complete with steel dream catcher. Just goes to show that metalwork doesn’t just have to be traditional or indeed black.
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.
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.