Learning to use the forge

Playing with Fire: My first lesson in blacksmithing

My first lesson in blacksmithing

I had my first blacksmithing lesson last week in the forge at Surrey Quay’s farm on the bank of the Thames in Rotherhithe.

Gravity

For years I worked in fabric trying to defy gravity until I realised I needed metal frames to support the structures I was making. Since then I have worked with engineers, technicians and a blacksmith who have fabricated the structures I’ve drawn.

Monkey’s Cooking Pot

Whilst making my sculpture ‘Monkey’s Cooking Pot’ for the British Council funded exhibition Monologue Dialogue 3 (MD3) in June 2014, I felt inspired by my assistants who were bending, grinding and welding the steel through the night for my 12 meter chandelier which I then wrapped in ribbon.

blacksmith 7

Blacksmithing

Once back in London I realised I wanted to do this myself and Kevin Boyss, my blacksmith,  gave me my first blacksmithing lesson on Saturday.

First lesson

I was in my element heating up steel in the forge, watching it turn amber, then hammering it into a point followed by the beginnings of a leaf.

The beginnings of a leaf

 

Leaf versus weapon

I was so slow but I feel in love with the process and can’t wait for my next lesson when I’ll learn to flatten the metal into a leaf shape and add veins. I just don’t want to ruin the dangerous weapon I created last week.