A work in progress this week; a set of hand forged coat hooks with a personalised design. The hooks themselves are forged from 6mm round bar, using traditional blacksmithing techniques on our coal forge, while in contrast the personalised design I’ve drawn is cut using the most up to date laser technology. The bespoke design itself features our customer’s dog; she sent us several photos of him so I was able to come up with a drawing that looks exactly like him. It’s a gift for her husband who loves gardening, hence the man with spade – this was something else she had specified.
A bespoke swinging sign we produced recently for a Tattoo studio in North Wales. I loved this project; the company who commissioned it specialise in Celtic and Nordic tatto designs – their work is incredible. The laser cut design that forms the sign is the business logo – it’s translated perfectly into metalwork, very bold and eyecatching. The customer specified how they wanted the bracket to look, with a design involving three large hand forged scrolls, forming a roughly triangular shape to mirror the logo. I initially drew this out on the floor next to the forge, and bent the steel to follow this. I’ve used 12mm square bar so it’s relatively chunky. As the scrolls are quite tight, I needed a length of steel over 2 metres long to form the largest piece – this meant I needed a helper to stand behind me and support the long length while I heated and worked the end. We really enjoyed creating this piece, and the customer was very pleased with the result too. It’s great that we were able to reproduce the hand forged bracket exactly to the customer’s sketch, so their bespoke business sign is exactly as they wanted it.
A pair of beautiful laser cut hanging basket brackets we’ve produced recently; these would make a wonderful gift for any nature lover. I’ve tried to portray these animals as you might see them in the wild, while keeping to our unique art nouveau influenced style of drawing. The Otter sits on a river bank with reeds behind and branches overhanging, while the badger is very much in the undergrowth, surrounded by ferns. We could produce hanging basket bracket designs based around any animal – it can be as personalised as you want it to be. As always, the hooks are forged by hand from 12mm square bar, and the whole piece is electroplated to prevent rust and finished in a durable, traditional looking black powdercoat.
A couple of photos from the workshop at the end of last week. The blinding bright light shows me TIG welding an arrow to the bar for a weathervane sail, while the top image shows a bespoke deer weathervane clamped to the workbench ready to weld. It needs to be clamped securely to avoid the heat from the weld warping the design, as this could actually prevent the weathervane from functioning. The bespoke deer design features a fawn as well as the doe and stag, stood in fern based undergrowth. This one has now been electroplated and powder coated, so will be ready for packaging and dispatch this afternoon.
We finished welding this bespoke swinging sign yesterday. The design shows two Pygmy goats and a Labrador, the customer’s pets. I’ve tried to show the goats in quite a playful light, reflecting their curious and mischievious personalities, so one has climbed onto a tree stump and the other looks up to him in an inquisitive manner. The Labrador is watching over them, as usual fascinated by what his two companions are up to. It’s great to be able to personalise a hanging sign design to this extent; as well as getting the look of the animals right, from speaking to our customers we can also get an insight into how their animals interact with each other, and allow that to inform the design.
As the sign will be mounted to the top of a chunky gatepost rather than a wall or the side of a post, we’ve produced a different bracket to our standard. We’ve used 50x50mm box section for the vertical, and 30x30mm for the horizonatal bar, so is very sturdy and built to last. The hand forged scroll on top adds to the traditional look of this bespoke hanging farm sign.
We designed and produced loads of bespoke weathervanes in the run up to Christmas, so thought we’d write a post showing the process involved in welding the sail. Firstly the bar is cut to size for the weathervane sail and cleaned with the angle grinder, removing any mildscale and dirt that could contaminate the weld. The customer had chosen the Celtic arrow, so this is clamped to the bench along with the bar, making sure they are straight and in line with each other.Once TIG welded on all four sides, the arrow and bar can be left to cool, which in our freezing cold workshop does not take long in December! The Irish Terrier profile is cleaned to remove any burrs from the cutting process, as is the top of the bar where the profile will be welded. This is then clamped tightly to the bench to ensure it is straight; if it’s leaning to one side the wind will catch the sail & just spin continuously rather than pointing into the wind as it should. Both sides of this are TIG welded.Once cool, we need to find the balance point on the weathervane sail. Because the arrow is cut from much thicker steel than the Irish Terrier profile, this point is usually somewhere in the centre, though it’s important to be precise or the weathervane won’t function correctly. This point is marked with chalk, and the mildscale cleaned off.A length of tube is now cut to size, and both ends cleaned to remove burrs and any grease or dirt, and finally a light sanding smooths off any grinder marks.The tube needs to be welded on at exactly 90 degrees, so we use a magnet to hold this angle while it is tacked in place. A set square is used to keep checking the angle as metal has an annoying tendency to pull one way or another as it heats and cools! It also needs to be straight in the other direction so it’s in line with the Irish Terrier profile, otherwise it would lean to one side when mounted & therefore not catch the wind properly. The photo below shows the weathervane sail welded completely, and ready to be zinc electroplated & powdercoated with whichever fixing and letter bar option the customer has chosen.
Our treble clef hooks are forged by hand using a long length of 6mm round bar. I have no jig so each one will be slightly different, making them even more unique. I’ve flattened an area at the top, and another just above the hook part to enable two small holes to be drilled, so the hook can be securely fastened to a door or wall. We love these two photos showing the hooks in use; one in holding a violin and bow, the other keeping leads and cables for guitar amps tidy. A traditional forge finish of beeswax is used. A fantastic hand made gift for any musician!
Often at this time of year we find ourselves starting to think about Christmas gift ideas, wanting to buy gifts that are not only unique and personal, but will be kept for many years rather than hidden away at the back of a cupboard before going in the charity shop pile. These days more and more people are moving away from mass produced imported goods, favouring the quality of craft products designed and hand made in the UK. In this blog post we’ll focus on gifts for gardeners for a wide range of budgets.
Hand forged Hooks
Almost all of us will know someone who takes a lot of pride in their shed, either on the allotment or in the garden at home. Why not go for a set of hand forged hooks – a gift that is both practical and unique. Below are photos showing examples of our reclaimed garden shears and vintage garden fork hooks – an idea which came about from clearing broken tools out of my parents allotment shed, and thinking that although they were past being used for their original purpose, it seemed such a shame for them to not be given a new lease of life! There is a link to our website where these items can be purchased below each photo.
Our weathervanes can also be produced in miniature to sit on top of a garden obelisk; with it’s hexagonal frame and hand forged curves this piece is guarenteed to stand out.
And last but by no means least, what about a personalised shed sign? As with the weathervanes, there is no additional charge for design work, and text is painted by hand to order. Please do contact us on 0161 681 4293 to discuss your ideas. As all of our products are designed and made to order in the UK, they generally take 3 – 4 weeeks to produce, so it’s best to leave plenty of time!
A bespoke, personalised hanging basket bracket design with a Tortoise! I drew the Tortoise itself based on our Horsefield named Mr. Percy. I’ve highlighted some of the markings on his shell in the form of cutouts, and the same with his eye. I then printed several copies of this off the computer along with the basic shape of the bracket, which I’ve literally just doodled around in my sketchbook; the photo above shows an example. I felt this sketch worked pretty well, so I scanned it back into the computer to tweak and create the final design. I ended up altering it quite a bit; I felt the solid ground would be more suitable underneath the Tortoise than the plant based filigree you can see in the sketch.
The hook for the hanging basket bracket was made by hand in our coal forge, and the design cut using a nitrogen shrouded laser. It’s all TIG welded together, and the finish is a black powder coat, with a protective layer of zinc electroplate underneath.
A stunning candelabra we forged from an old reclaimed garden fork! The wooden handle had snapped off the fork, and the prongs were incredibly rusty so had been retired from the purpose it was originally intended. I’ve bent out the prongs in 4 different directions so it stands very stable, and I’ve curved the ends around forming the start of a decorative scroll. The texture was quite pitted due to the amount of rust and dirt covering the tool; some of this has smoothed out through being hammered at a yellow heat, but we didn’t want to lose all of it as we felt it added character to the Candelabra, and reminded you of it’s original use. The finish is just natural beeswax, applied when the piece was at a black heat.