Artist blacksmith with over 25 years experience based in the Pewsey Vale near Marlborough, Wiltshire, England. Making hand made contemporary designed ironwork for the home and garden from forged steel and wrought iron. . Commissions taken for bespoke gates, railings and public and private sculptures.
Private tutor running blacksmithing and sculptural metalwork courses from her forge in Wiltshire.
I have been working on a complex handrail panel with rivet details. The sections are forged then joined to each other with a steel rivet giving a secure traditional decorative join using the round head rivets as a feature.
I have been lucky enough to have some workshop time filmed bySocialMeansUK
Here's the short film of the tool I made and how I use it for tricky riveting jobs like this one!
Melissa Cole, bronze medal holder and Fellow of The Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths, is exhibiting her hand forged sculptures throughout May in the Guy Goodfellow Collection showroom.
Melissa’s work ranges from commissioned gates and railings to sculpture and fine art installations, combining contemporary design with forged and fabricated metal for external public spaces, private gardens and interiors.
Melissa is internationally recognised for her craftsmanship and creates “Metal work that flows and wraps around itself, taking your eyes on a journey producing pieces that are solid in make up but light and free in their aesthetic quality” - www.TheWithLoveProject.co.uk Melissa has been featured on C4’s Grand Designs, BBC’s Escape to the Country and Radio 4 Woman’s Hour.
The Makers' Tales showcase runs from 1st May - 1st June 2018.
How to get started if you have a burning desire to be
are fantastic, they are multi-skilled and multi-talented, they often work alone
through choice and because it is a hard to generate enough work to run a team and
if you are restricted by your workshop space.
There is a
growing interest in our craft through modern media highlighting specific
aspects according to what is fashionable at the moment.This could be the moment for blade making as
promoted by TV shows like Forged In Steel and the likes of Game Of Thrones/Lord
Of The Rings.
A new breed
of blacksmiths are emerging, some through the great colleges and courses in
blacksmithing that we have in Hereford, Warwick and Dorset, some through the
need to leave city jobs and make a new life with a new craft skill.I welcome these blacksmiths with open arms –
we need more blacksmiths!
The UK has
some great blacksmiths but it doesn’t incorporate their ironwork into its built
environment as much as other European countries do.There are many more blacksmiths in Europe
because the architecture there lends itself to the use of decorative ironwork
as integral features rather than add-ons.
All this is
good if you have an interest in blacksmithing, you are probably already aware
of the pieces blacksmiths have made that are around you, this might be what has
inspired you to become a blacksmith!
do you start if you want to be a blacksmith?
Do some art
and/or Design Technology and/or engineering at school or as an evening class or
hobby if you have left school – it will help – you do need to be able to
represent a line in metal in some way on a board or piece of paper.This is the starting point of anything you
will make even if it is a straight line like on a blade – you need to know the
tang shape and section style!
Go and see
blacksmiths working at local county shows like Bath and West, Yorkshire Show,
New Forest Show, Royal Welsh, Edenbridge and Oxted.There are blacksmithing (and sometimes
farriery) competitions and live forging displays that you can watch and meet the
blacksmiths there. You can also participate
in the competitions when you are ready!
Do a one
day course with a blacksmith to see if you like it, it might not be the
romantic ideal it is often perceived to be!It is hot, noisy, dirty and hard work even though it is also fun and
fantastic to make an actual thing with your hands at the end of the day!
local forge and ask if you can firstly watch the blacksmith, see what is
involved and see if you think you will like it then, if they are the right person,
ask if they need some help.
approaching a blacksmith to ask if you can help out in the forge, explain why
you want to do this and what skills you have, the list below could be useful
strong and fit?
any experience in a workshop?
weld?What type of welding?
your practical skills
why they should let you in their workspace
A lot of
blacksmiths work alone and like it that way, don’t be put off just because the
first one you approach doesn’t want to share their space and time with you
skills you will need to be a blacksmith;
Business skills will be essential.
You need to
be able to run your business and do most of these things yourself or earn
enough money to pay someone else to do them for you.
quotes for work
Manage a website
and other social media
work to the buying public - face to face or via online media
skills suitable for running your business - like Word and Excel for quotes and
you need to keep a portfolio of images of work you have made that shows it to
all things you can learn if you don’t know them when you start.
If you can
do a welding course DO IT!
use a MIG, TIG and ARC and GAS weld at your local agricultural/technical
college.This is a really important
skill for a modern blacksmith.
What kind of blacksmith do you want to be?
Do you want
to be a general blacksmith doing all sorts of work from forging and fabricating
metal items for homes and gardens, taking what ever come in and you can do.Lots of blacksmiths start this way and
specialise later as they find their niche in the market.
Do you want
to make the same things that have been designed and made by others before you
or do you want to make all new designs of you own?
What do you
want to specialise in?You could have an
interest in tools for other crafts makers, blades or scissors; stone, leather
and glass workers all need tools.
into blade making?This is a specialist
field with a growing interest and market.Do you want to make re-enactment and TV/film quality work?
Do you like
archaeology?You could make reproduction
work for museums and collectors and combine your hobbies?
Do you want
to make sculptural work to sell through galleries?
Do you want
to work with architects and town planners and shape the look of our streets and
interested in gardening and want to specialize in works for gardens and outside
spaces.Develop links with garden
designers and garden centres.
Do you want
to recreate historical ironwork – restoration and renovation is a specialised
field now that requires extra training.www.heritageblacksmiths.com
are commissioned to make bespoke work – this means it is designed to fit a specific
space and do a specific job.To do this
you need to negotiate with lots of different people from clients to planning
officers, council development officers, architects, structural engineers,
landscape designers, builders, galvanizers and paint specialists and more!You need to know when building regulations
apply to the work you do and provide health and safety information, paint
finish information and guarantees when asked.
commissions run over the allotted time frame, this can throw out the rest of
your working schedule and upset other clients that are waiting for you to make
their product.Managing this aspect of
your work will be one of the hardest things and takes great skill and
management.You won’t always get it
right but you will only be as good as your reputation.There is still a lot of word of mouth
recommendation within the blacksmithing world.
A lot of
blacksmiths will have a ‘bread and butter’ thing that they do to keep the wolf
from the door.It might be a small
repeat item that they make and sell online or at shows or it might be a big
item that they repeat make that has lower overheads than one off commissioned
work.This is a good business model, the
item might change over the years but it is a good thing to have to fall back on
should commissioned work dry up, run over time or fall through.
for your future blacksmithing adventure – let me know if this has been useful!
The Wiltshire landscape that surrounds their studios is the inspiration for Melissa Cole‘s steel sculptures and Jonathan Mansfield‘s paintings. Considering the contemporary geography in relation to ancient geology, the artists’ works are exhibited alongside Pitt Rivers Museum finds from excavation sites – objects held in the Salisbury Museum Pitt Rivers collection. 23 June – 2 September 2017, The Pound, Pound Pill, Corsham, Wiltshire SN13 9HX. www.poundarts.org.uk
I will be showing with Jonathan Mansfield for the first time space at The Pound Arts Centre in Corsham, Wiltshire.
Landscape by Jonathan Mansfield
As artists living within a few miles of each others studios we have been brought together for this exhibition by Fiona Cassidy, curator at The Pound and we will present our individual experiences of journeying, sensing and interpreting the local landscapes through evocative sculptures and vibrant paintings.
This exhibition explores new ways of presenting the physical environment and, by way of contrast and similarity, includes topographical models and original artefacts on loan from The Salisbury Museums Pitt Rivers collection. This has been an opportunity for me to work on new landscape pieces as described in my previous blog and also experiment with different finishes as a direct result of my exposure to Jon's brilliantly vibrant, colourful paintings.
We both start our work directly in the landscape, Jon works out in the field, taking his canvas paints etc. with him, working quickly and the dynamic outdoors nature of this technique is captured in the finished works. I travel through the landscape, slowly mostly on foot, bike or horseback and rely heavily on memory of motion for my work. I also sketch and photograph but mostly its the remembering of the space and motion through it that informs the finished pieces. You can read more about Jon's work on his blog here: