No problems getting to site as I’d been there before. Rolled straight back to my spot from last year and saw all of the lovely crafty lot again. Said some big hello’s then I set up the Mk.2 trailer to show off to everyone.

My crew arrived in dribs and drabs until I had two blacksmiths, three marines and a jester in my company.

Not too many workshops happened but all the guys had a go on the forge, Jo was doing her copper bracelets and the nail game reeled in a steady stream of punters as usual – starting to struggle for space for more nails on the log now…


Matt did a wicked little commission – someone had brought an old door latch mechanism with a broken spring so Matt figured out where the spring went and made a new one out of an old hack saw blade. I bloody love it when that kind of job pops up!

Sold a few odds and ends off the trailer but mostly had a much slower and more chilled time than last year, which is good for fun but bad for funds.

Oh well, got in a few rounds for everyone anyhoo and equally had loads of food and booze nought for me too.

I actually managed to get out and enjoy some bits and bobs of the festival too this time round. Had some wicked nights in and some wicked nights out. Saw Gypsy Disco and a couple of lil bands who’s names I can’t remember but were definitely worth a boogie and squeezed in a lil acro myself…


Group piccy of the craft area crew…


Much the same as last year, it was both my folks’ birthdays around the time of Blissfields so I made a reasonably sharpish move Monday afternoon after larking around with the crafty crew and headed back home to Lewes to see my parents.

I have recently been thinking about setting up a workshop somewhere because I’m getting a bit tired of scrounging work space off friends and employers. I have looked around at my options but not many came to anything until I rang the owner of one of the units at the Pheonix Industrial Estate in Lewes, which is soon due for demolishment. A couple of the units have been taken up by a shed load of artists and makers creating Zu Studios and The Foundry. Thankfully someone was just in the process of moving out of their space in The Foundry so I popped down to have a look and a chat and within a couple of days I had put a deposit down on a small indoor workspace and a space in the yard for hot-work 😀

Bloody exited about this!! …I wont move in til September/October time after the festivals have finished but it gives me a really good opportunity to actually get some serious work of my own done.

Hung around in Lewes for a few days, also helped Philip, my neighbour at The Foundry, to drive up to Essex, dismantle a big tin shed, drive it back and re assemble it all in a day. That deserved a few pints.

My destination was back to Bromyard where I needed to do a few days work for Jon in exchange for the time he had let me spend in his workshop working on the trailer.

I helped him on his final project for the DFS course which I had completed a couple of years earlier which was a nice forged gate for his house.

Three days and my debt was paid so I set off on a wee jaunt up to Brecon. My friends out there were having a solstice gathering so I decided to make the most of having bought a motorbike so I headed to Stroud, swapped van and trailer for bike and blasted off into the luuurrverly bendy twisties of South Wales, rocking up at Jack and Gayles at about dusk to enjoy some tomfoolery with my buddies.


We had a wonderful weekend of chilling and chatting around the fire, drinking and eating good things and doing a bit of forging in Jacks workshop as well as some greenwood working thanks to Jamie who brought all his kit.

I started on the shave horse making a hammer handle out of some lush fresh ash.


Then moved into the forge to make a long awaited hook knife and a straight knife so I can get on with my own greenwood working. I showed Jamie my hook knife and, so impressed was he, he asked me to make a few for him! 😀

I sadly tore myself away from all these lovely people and took my sexy bike back to Stroud where I continued my journey in the slower and less fuel efficient but equally loved van of mine to Andy’s house in Bath to start a short stint at Iron Art….and a shower!

Pretty standard work ensued at Iron Art, punching holes for railings, a shit load of galv to clean and some alterations to make on a load of cast rails which was quite fun.

The weekend plan was to pop down to Bridgwater where I had my storage at my friend Billy’s place to drop a couple more bicycles I had aquired and a knackered moped I had recently dragged out of the woods…all good projects for that long awaited workshop of my own…sigh.

The short journey didn’t go quite to plan – in an attempt to avoid Glastonbury festival I took a round route that stopped me at a closed road and diverted me back via Glastonbury. Bugger.

I then headed straight back to Bath where I spent the weekend kicking around doing this and that before another couple of days at Iron Art then setting forth for Blissfields festival in Winchester. Another one I enjoyed last year too so hoping for a good ol’ jolly again, especially now I’m to be joined by a whole bunch of buddies from all over!

After doing one final day on Monday at Peat’s working on the festival stock and tooling for the workshops I loaded up all my tools and a big armful of stock generously donated by Mr Oberon and set off for Dumfries, but unfortunately didn’t get time to have a final shower before the start of the festival…I’m going to be gruuubby!

A lovely drive in glorious sun all down the A66 – a route I’m becoming familiar with in recent months of northern galavanting.

I swung by Gretna Green again and actually managed to get a picture this time…


I finally rolled into Dumfries grabbed some grub and booze then found out roughly where I needed to aim for as the site was a little way north of Dumfries. On heading up what turned out to be the wrong road I saw a spectacular sight through the trees, just sitting on the outskirts of a small village I was driving through was the most beautiful castle ruin. From a distance it looked like a massive house because it was built out of rusty red stone.


I hopped a wall and scrambled across the surrounding undulating land and had a good old mooch around this fantastic ruin…

Once I’d felt suitably connected with this old structure I said goodbye and continued across to the correct road to find the beginnings of the festival site. Even just rolling in through sparse campsites I managed to meet and have a chat with some lovely friendly people…I can tell this is going to be a good festival.


It was about dark by now but I found the officials and decided to park up out of the way til the morning and it was easier to get sited properly. I had a wee wander around and watched a film in the drive-in cinema sat in a lovely old convertible alongside the other wicked old cars then hit the hay.

Gently woke up next morning and got shown to my site then pretty much just got on with setting up my rig.


I had also bought a couple of flower pots on the way, these can be used for a couple of things – in the summer you put one inside the other with damp sand in the void in between, cover with a damp teatowel and you hav yourself a fridge! 🙂 And it the winter you unoturn them over a tealight and they make a lil heater…


I found out that I hadn’t actually needed to be in site til Thursday afternoon but getting there so early had meant I had loads of time to setup, build some needed additions in the trailer and get some general prep done and by the time the actual festival had started I had already met nearly half the crew and staff of the festival so felt well established already!


One by one my blacksmith buddies I had invited rocked up and got to know the rig and slowly bits of work started to begin.


Once we were all assembled we had another forge with electric fan, another mini steak anvil and a load of copper for bracelets workshops and the stock out for sale had doubled and I was feeling pretty chuffed about this whole set up.


A bit earlier, on about the Wednesday, I had also decided to make a small edition to my set up and dragged a log onto my pitch, scrounged a load of 4 inch nails and wrote myself a little sign “CHALLENGE THE BLACKSMITH”


The basic idea was to hit the nail into the log in less hits than the blacksmith.

…and who’da thought that hitting a nail into a log could draw in such a crowd and ruckus!


As there were five of us we all took in turns to take a challenge but eventually lost count of who was winning the most rounds. It seems to be more popular than this silly blacksmithing nonsense I had going on behind the log…


Everyone was loving the hammer time…


We decided to start charging 50p a go and we all actually started making some pretty good money off it

This will definitely be a new permanent addition to the rig.

We wer offering handfasting marriages again, nearly married these two but never got round to it 😦


Workshops were really minimal at this festival. We had a few people commissioning us for little jobs but the most business was in selling our wares and the blacksmith challenge game…but generally we were getting loads of lovely peeps coming up for a chat and showing lots of interest.


Its different for every festival but I never really mind what the most popular part of the rig is as long as people are enjoying it, and if we make a bit of money to cover costs then that’s a bonus!

We got to seesome awesome music including The Cat Empire who I had been super exited about and didn’t dissapoint – even though I lost everyone I knew for the whole gig 😛


Once again I was finding it very hard to actually get down to doing some work. I had got a lot done before the festival started but now the punters were rolling in and there was so many lovely and interesting people to talk to I was finding it very hard to focus on the jobs at hand. Thankfully most of the people who wanted things made were obviously equally distracted and never actually came back anyway…

One job that I really wanted to do was for the wonderfully entertaining sparky of the festival, Dan. He wanted to pay me a decent amount to make him a super special small dice. Him and his missus kept coming back to see if I had finished it yet and each time I hadn’t got any further…and at one point I lost it and had to start again… 😛

On Sunday I set myself the task of finishing the dice but everytime I tried to crack on with it another person would come and chat or buy something or I would have to go and get something. Eventually it was getting dark and Dan ended up as my social body guard so I could finish the job. It got too dark and I was now too drunk so we agreed I would post it to him.

I think this is the most extreme case of this familiar situation I have yet managed to achieve…signs of a good festival I reckon…got it done in the end though 😉


In between the ‘working’ bits I have managed to have some of the most absurdly ridiculous and enjoyable nights at this festival with some wonderful people and even came back at one point after watching Cat Empire on the main stage for some night time forging. And I also for the first time snuck off while all my pals were busy on the forge so I could have a wander around to witness the general ridiculousness of the festival during the day!


This has definitely been a close competitor to my so far favourite festival of all – Knockengorroch. I certainly will be back next year.

But now all my pals have gone home and it is time to slowly pack up my rig and escape this sparkly and wonderful field to find somewhere to recover.

I only managed about half an hour down the M6 before stopping for a nap. Stopped again a bit further for the night then continued a bit more refreshed but still suffering from festival flue and blues.

We arrived at the ticket gate at about 11pm and rolled down the last half mile of track at about ½ a mile an hour due to the state of the road giving the trailer a bit of a rattling.

Found a temporary pitch and put up our tents. Although I was intending to get a nice early night, having just met up with this lot and still eagerly awaiting the last two members of our crew, we ended up staying up til some silly wee hours in the morning.

Next day dragged the trailer into its pitch and faffed about getting trailer, vans and tents into decent positions to set up our base camp. Opened up the workshop to show off properly for the first time and, as usual, straight away got people coming in for a chat and showing interest in the workshops.

There was a bit of confusion as to who was bringing the second blower for the second fire so we ended up with just one fire between four of us. I spent most of the day messing around sorting out odd jobs anyhoo so let the other guys play around on the fire and get used to the set-up.

Unfortunately shortly after arrival my phone ran out of battery…I really didn’t mind because I quite like to go off the radar at festivals but it meant that I didn’t have a camera. I hoped that someone else would take some pics but everyone else had excuses too…so minimal pictures on this one. But trust me, it all looked good!

Heres a pretty pic of the hills of Scotland instead…


All spirits were high and everyone was loving being at the festival, and I for one was bloody chuffed to have a bunch of mates with me this time round helping out. It is also always nice to bump into past festival buddies or those occasional and cherished coincidence meetings of old friends from here and there.

Arriving Wednesday night, I spent Thursday and most of Friday messing around trying to make a pair of bellows for the second forge and sorting out other general crip crap while the other guys got used to the set up and made some odds and ends and the ladies swanned about looking pretty and making lovely food. There was a lot of time chatting to people too and getting distracted by various pretty things so progress was slow and it wasn’t until Friday afternoon that I got around to making a copper ring. This was inspired by the thought of possibly marrying an unassuming couple over the anvil (can’t quite remember where this idea stemmed from) so one of the friends of the crew were selected. After some uncomfortable ring sizings we left the young couple alone and I made the ring for myself. Thankfully Toby, one of my smithing helpers, and his lovely ladt Emma decided to step forward and make a copper ring for their marriage. Emma got a wooden ring made by Pat the greenwood worker and preperations began for the wedding on Saturday. I wrote up some words for the service and soon we had a proper gathering of friends and randomers to witness the ceremony. I rattled through the lyrics – forgetting in my nerves not only to present the rings but also to invite Emma up to the anvil – and they were officially wed.

The lovely folk over the way at the food stall sorted us out with a shed load of food for the after party and I sorted them with a couple of copper bracelets.

Although this particular ceremony could have been better rehearsed, I have concluded that this has to be a regular service to be offered at all the festivals. I’ve got to abuse this age-old power of the blacksmith to marry somehow…

Other than that it was, yet again, an amazing festival and even better due to the amount of buddies I had by my side. Even Olly and Hydi, who I went with last year, turned up last minute completely unexpectedly! 😀

Heres some piccys shamlessly stolen from the ol’ fb….


As usual I worked hard and chatted solidly all day then danced and frolicked all night. The ceilidh on the Sunday afternoon was a blast too. The only thing I regret is not making the most of the other workshops and spectacles happening throughout the daytime over the festival. I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed with work to do but its very hard to get a business head on and focus on productivity when there are so many lovely and interesting people passing by to chat to…

We all had a great blow out on the last night, even Toby who had disfangled an old injury on his knee after I challenged him to a snake-off (a type of unreasonably twistariffic boogie)

This was Shooglenifty, the final act of the festival on the main stage. They played the most inspiring and epic folk that one just couldn’t help but to shake one’s tailfeather to.

Thankfully this year the Monday saw bright skies so packing up was much less of a chore. Some of us were helpful in this task, some weren’t, and some hadn’t shown up from various sleeping situations/locations yet…despite all this we packed up and helped the catering lot tack down too.

One we had reassembled we gently rolled out of the site to the next stop – Edinburgh. A few of our expanded crew were heading back there anyway so the rest decided to re-coop there for a day or two. I had also met a few friendly folk who had started up a small workshop community on a patch of wasteland in the centre of Edinburgh and had invited me to come visit. Seeing as it was named ‘The Forge’ I felt it my duty to see what the place was like.

I dropped my buddy Leo back home safe and sound to his missus Mairi and stopped for a cup of tea and to appreciate in awe their beautiful off-grid home out in the middle of nowhere…

I unhitched the trailer so I didn’t have to drag it all around the city and with the last dregs of my energy I drove into Edinburgh to find Emma’s flat where her, Toby and Jake had crashed out. We revitalised ourselves there for a day or two which also gave me time to sort out some impending official type business – the van’s MOT was up in a few days and I needed finalise some work before the next festival because I was OUT OF MONEY!!

Found out that the work at Topp & Co in York that I had been arranging and relying on was not actually available now so I was a bit boned…so I did what I do best and adapted to the new situation: re booked my MOT in Edinburgh instead of York and arranged to spend a little longer down at The Forge community workshops where I could do some work on the van ready for the MOT on Monday. Makes life more tricky but also quite nice to spend some more time in the Burgh…

So after a couple of days at Emma’s I said bye to my good pals who had been awesome company and headed back to Leo and Mairi’s to pick up the trailer.

Quite a ironic view from their back door…but kind of a pleasant finger up at the grid…



Beautiful view down over the Firth, Fourth and Fifth



The proud owner standing with his turbine spinning furiously



I ended up staying there for another few days because with internet access I was able to re book the MOT, sort out the work issue and source some decent charcoal from the local area so I could do some work out of the trailer at The Forge. Another absolutely lovely few days spent up there with Leo working from home and hanging out with the two of them in the evenings then a fond farewell as I took the trailer down to The Forge.

Arrived to closed gates and no one home then found out they only work Wednesdays and Saturdays. Eventually got the padlock code from someone and pulled the van and trailer in so I could hide as today is Thursday – the day my MOT runs out.

I had til Monday to sort my van and make some stock and do a bit of work on the trailer. Spent a couple of days down there on my own just cracking on with the odd jobs then Saturday community emerged. Leo, Mairi and Emma also came down and I did a wicked workshop for Leo who had been patiently waiting for one for the whole festival and helped him make a great little double hook for their dressing gowns.



Also helped Emily, another Edinburghian, to harden and temper some knives she had made while the others cooked up some tastey sausages in my van…I love it when tranny is put to good use by my pals 🙂


The Forge community site was a great place to hang out. It is based within a few shipping containers with a yard built in between them and it sounded like they hold some great events and parties there which I would very much like to come back and get involved with.


They do have a very basic makeshift forge and plans for improvements so I offered to come and help them set it up and possibly do a few demonstrations and lessons on basic tool making, to which they were super keen on.

All together a really pleasant day just chilling out and totally making the most of the versatility of my wee bonnie trailerworkshop! – fixing my van, making some stock and generally entertaining folk. Was invited back to Emily and co’s flat for food too! 😀

I even got a chace to cycle out into town and back down the beautiful canal in both pissing rain, painful hail and glorious sunshine…all in the same short journey.


MOT day came and as suspected, the van failed. But as was not expected, it failed on only three minor things….and none of them were rust!!!

So, in the pissing rain and wind, I backed her into The Forge yard fitted a new steering rack gaiter, fixed a new number plate lamp and bodged the broken stop lamp and she flew through on Tuesday.


Pretty ready to move on to my next stop to earn some money now. After the Topp & Co failure I went to good ol Peat Oberon who, even if there was no work, would let me use his forge all week and weekend for no cost.

So I made a swift move off to Middlesbrough from the MOT station, stopping for an hours kip on the way.

Parked up in an ocean of lush long grass down one of my more favoured country roads near Yarm…can’t ususally park here in the winter!


Rolled into the museum forge Wednesday morning and set about helping Peat unload about 50m of galvanised estate railings…can’t win them all but its work and I’m getting paid. So I got on with cleaning up the galv, straightening and spraying the lot with mordant etching solution. A couple of days of this and it was all ready for paint.

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A quick job helping Peat bend some big angle iron corners ready for a table top which will hold a massive piece of slate.

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Found a new park up! Nice and tucked back from the main road with wind shelter and a beautiful view out me back doors 🙂


Peat then gave me a quick demo on making ram’s heads in preparation for fire sets he would be selling and beginners courses he runs throughout the year so I spent Friday on the forge which was a pleasant break after all the galvanise dust…

Peat wasn’t in over the weekend so I had the whole place to myself to crack on with making junk to sell at the festivals. I started with some coat hooks then knocked out a load of dice. Everyone who has been passing through the museum has been interested in the dice while I have been making them and I’ve even sold a little one to a fella already, who then came back for another little one and a big one! so I’m intrigued to see how they go down at the festies…

I spent the rest of the weekend and part of Monday making small tabletop candle sconces and more general prep for the festival workshops. Then packed all my gubbins up, hitched the trailer and set off for the site of Eden Festival just north of Dumfries!

First thing I wanted to finish up was the roof system. My new design involved cutting the legs in half and hinging them so that the roof came up vertically instead of up and over creating cover over the back. I fitted gas struts to push the legs straight with the idea that I would raise one end at a time.

I had to use the winch to lift the roof up so I could fit the gas struts at full extension then drop the roof down…


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…first end worked a treat, so I did the same on the other two legs. I was a bit nervous by this point as theres quite a lot of preassure contained when those gas struts are under compression, so I pushed the trailer outside just in case.

Quite glad I did…the back end of the roof came up fine then as I tried to lift the front end everything started shifting in directions that I hadn’t anticipated. I ended up hanging on the roof to stop it flinging itself in cpompletely the wrong direction and most likely destroying itself while Jon came and gave me a hand getting it under control.

About and hour and a half and a lot of ratchet straps and head scratching and I had the gas struts off and the roof safe. I was in a bit of a pickle at this point because I didn’t have time to really reinvent the roof system as well as get everthing else finished before the first festival so I retired to the van for a some food and a small cry. I looked in my sketch book, which had all the designs I had played with for the trailer, and found the Mk.3 proposed design for the trailer which had fixed legs and permanently high walls……this was the answer!!

So I got back into the workshop, cut some angle iron and gave my trailer a sexy extention. I was a happy man again….that will teach me not to test these things out with maquettes first.

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From here all the other designs seemed to come along a hell of a lot easier, weighing up the pros and consm, the only negative this about this s=design was a slight increase in weight and more wind drag while on the road. I also now have more room for better equipment in the trailer…I may have to start thinking about a more suitably rated vehicle to tow this with for next year.

I bought a bit more ply wood for my extra wall space and cracked on with a bit more hope in my heart.

…got a bit scared of how bloody big it is now



Finished the new fire and gave it a quite test run


Some smart trim for the scraggy tin roof




Ultimately I have designs for some much fancier hinges for the side that folds down into the display stand but for now the old back door hinges and some bought ones will have to do.

Im much more fond of this display stand, proper adjustable legs, a full length table and space for a wee bit of signage on the front panel while the tables down. Also a much more secure system of locking the whole lot shut.

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With the main walls finished I was well on the way, just needed to fit the flus for the fires which meant bringing myself to do that mantally difficult action of cutting a gurt big hole in your nice watertight roof. I had picked up this cowl recently by some fortune. All I had to do was beat the aluminium to fit the corrugated tin and rivet and seal it on.

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Gave it a test run


Next big job was make the tailgate. I couldn’t get a piece of ply big enough to do it in one so I joined two bits together. Made a locking mechanism and boshed out a nice hand forged handle too. Those gas struts came in useful in the end too!


Then came up with a nifty femovable flu for the second fire that went through the tailgate when it was up…

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I had been looking forward to this bit far ages! My mate had given me a massive bit of canvas from a marquee tent so it had the straps and eylettes in it already. I only needed to use about a third of the piece she gave me for the whole awning out the display side of the trailer. I cut off the straps and fixed them to the trailer wall itself so that I could strap the canvas up for transit. I also managed to find a leatherworker just in town who put some extra eylettes in for supporting poles and stitched the front edge so that I can eventually thread a tent pole through.


A bit of work on the storage situation …which has always been a bit of a situation…


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Then it was time for finishing touches. I red oxided the frame so theres no more nasty galvanise to look at then my mate Emily came round to help priming the plywood panels ready for a lush lick o’ gloss.



I used the original back doors for the front panels. This was a nice touch as all the pieces of wood on the front are now reclaimed and nicely scruffy looking. The strip up the middle is a bit of old oak that had been donated by Will the woodworker in the workshop next door.


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Bought a wee anvil off Jon and knocked up a stand…


Then did one last blitz to get the last little details sorted for the trailer and pack and tidy the workshop – I really wanted to finish all this and get an early night ready to set off first thing in the morning but as usual I worked late. Had a slightly restless and exited nights sleep then up early next day to get the trailer out of the workshop and hitched up and I was bloody good to go 😀

I was very happy at this point and actually managed to remember to take a quick photo beofre I set off for the first festival of the year, and possibly the best – Knockengorroch in Castle Douglas, Scotland.


So Ive got a bit of a treck ahead of me – I’d be meeting a few of my mates up there who are going to be helping me doing the workshops but I had made a super early start so had all day to crack on with the journey….still, very exited


I stopped on the way for a delicious burger-van burger, then later for a shower and some internet and a hour or so doze as some attempt of recovery before I launch my already knackered self into a week of festival. Picked up some supplies in Carlisle and rocked up in Castle Douglas about 8pm, a couple of hours before the others arrived so we could meet up and do the last 30 miles to the festival site together. A very merry and exitable greeting was had before we cracked on up to the site – it was a shame it was dark by now because its an absolutely beautiful treck over hills and fields down to the valley that houses Knockengorroch…

So now I’m back in Bromyard, have about 2 weeks til a craft show over in Kent with Informed design. I was at this same show last year in September at it seemed like a good’un – I just didn’t have the right kind of stuff to sell. So this time I am going to make a load of smaller more saleable items.

I have compiled a list of the products I want to get done for the show, I just have to crack on and make them. So I will be putting the trailer on hold til the shows over and I’ll be having some fun on the forge!

Started by knocking out a shed load of simple bottle openers then got my process down for another more intricate design of key-ring bottle opener. Then I finally got around to sorting out a jig to make the angle-iron candle sticks which involves the seriously tricky process of bending angle iron in the direction it does not want to go in…

Eventually found the best process for this and started batching out a few sets of these along with some smaller ones.


Out of some of the scrap I had picked up from the scrap bin at Chris Topp’s was some big angle iron so I could make some hoofing gurt big candle holders for 100mm diameter candles. Once I had cut the ruined, paint covered and rust pitted angle into roughly the right lengths and cleaned it up, I had exposed the most beautiful textures in the aged steel.

I decided then that it was beautiful enough and I didn’t want to touch its form so I came up with a design for a very elaborate wall sconce. I played about with this idea for a bit then put it on the back burner because with the time I had I wouldn’t be able to get this finished to an appropriate standard as well as get all the other stuff made.

Heres one of the elements of the sconce for now but watch this space for some new sexy lighting products…

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I got a load of companion-sets made up too, making some of my own brushes by cutting up a broom head and using the bristles which I will crimp onto the forged handles…


Now I was happy with the amount of stock I had accumulated I prepared the portable forge I would be bringing – this was a small stand-alone set up borrowed off Jon because the trailer wasn’t ready and it wouldn’t fit in the site anyway.

I packed everything into the van and headed off towards Guildford where I was going to pick up the garden bench I had made while in college then carry on to Penshurst Place to set up for the show.

Unfortunately on the way down my starter motor decided to catch fire while I was in a petrol station…the fella working there wasn’t best pleased that I was using my phone in the forecourt…dangerous stuff, them mobile phones. Called the RAC anyhoo and they took me down to Lewes where I crashed at my folks’ house and took the van to their mechanic round the corner the next day.

I would be absolutely gutted if I didn’t make it to this craft show – I was low on funds and had just spent the last two weeks making stock. So I piled as much of my kit as I could into my dads car and he kindly took me up to the show site where I unloaded and still somehow managed to set up in time for the show…

We had a much better setup this time round. Me and Henry the wood furniture maker were positioned right out the front of the Informed Design marquee, both of us doing demonstrations of our work.


We had our stalls set up in the marquee along with the other makers, most of whom were doing smaller bits of demonstrations of their work as well.

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I got a fair few bits made on the little portable forge – a few odds and sods I fancied messing around with but mostly small commissions that I was asked to do from passing punters. I was also kept busy with my favourite thing to do at these kind of events which was making little things to trade for some of the tasty food and coffees offered at the food stalls.

There were two other blacksmiths demonstrating at the show same as last year – Micheal Heart and Mort of Firebird Forge. I spent a fair bit of time over at Micheals r because he had a better fire for fire-welding while he very kindly manned my stall for me. He made a tiny pair of tongs out of some pattern-welded chainsaw chain, which sat very nicely next to my damascus scissors.


All in all, and with the help of my friend Jo who manned my stall on the Saturday and my folks who came to help out on the Monday, I managed to sell a good lot of my work, get a load of commissions done for people there and then and took a good amount of larger commissions to be completed and sent off later in the year. I shed loads of my business cards too so hopefully will be hearing from some people in the near future.

So in coming away from the show with a pocket full of money, I carefully drove my van back to Bromyard, praying all the way that it wouldn’t set fire again…..then as soon as I got back I had to settle up with Jon for a steel order then fork out to get the bike’s carbs cleaned, so my lavish wad of cash was rather short-lived 😦

Not to worry! Still got my legs, and two vehicles that work now….and soon a wee portable forge I can work absobloodylutly anywhere from! 🙂 Time to crack on with that…

She is now sat in her new home where she will be pulled apart and put back together in time for a new summer of new festivals. My very kind and generous friend Jon has saved my bum by letting me use his workshop for doing this – its starting to suck a little bit not having my own workshop space…this issue will hopefully be covered in a new entry to this blog in the near future…?


So I set about getting everything out of the trailer and pulling off all the old crappy cladding and interior gubbins to pretty much start from just the framework. I then bought myself over £150 worth of ply for new cladding, lining and interior shelving and storage etc using my new money things wot I now got.


First alteration was to install another hearth and lower the original one to a more usable height…


then the next big alteration was to change the whole system of how the roof comes up. I was sick of breaking my back lifting the roof up every time and if I was fitting lining and awnings to the roof now then I was going to need a new system. So I bought a couple of gas struts from and old transit tailgate at the scrappy, cut all the roof legs in half and hinged them. The roof will now come vertically up – hopefully completely effortlessly… :s


then built some fixings for the gas struts…

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Before I knew it it was time to join a few friends for our mate’s stag do in Manchester. So I dropped tools and drove my van down to Bridgwater (I had some bits and bobs to pick up there anyhoo) and caught a lift with them up to Manchester. 3 days of dressing up as the spice girls, escaping from rooms filled with clues, eating the tastiest burgers and drinking the finest whiskys, catching cronic giggles at the comedy store and drooling over the sexiest bikes at the motorcycle show – all while maintaining a consistent (and controlled) level of drunkenness, I think we sent Tom off to his doom with a suitable bit of tomfoolery.

Got a lift back as far as Bristol and managed to hitch back to my van in Bridgwater and head up to Bromyard, where I was met with quite a horrifying suprise. It had been a bit windy the night before and when I rocked up at the workshop in the morning I first found a 12mm thick full sheet of steel had blown over where I usually park my bike – which I just so happened to have moved back to lock to the steel rack….this picture still give me the willies.


Then realised that the roof of the trailer was about 10 meters from the trailer itself…


Sorted all that out and bolted the roof down, then had a slightly concerned feeling about my next journey which was to ride the bike all the way down to Lewes in the remenants of this horriffic wind – I was tempted to play it safe and take the van.

Told myself to man up and get on with it which I did and the ride was fine all the way to Lewes where we all got merry at the wedding of the recent stag do….


After that I had planned to ride the bike up North but the bugger decided to drag a load of water and crap into the carbs so thanks to the RAC I managed to at least get back to my trusty van (at about midnight) …at this point I felt like maybe that viscious wind the other day had been trying to warn me of something about taking the bike on the journey… 😛

Anyhoo, without much delay I promptly set off on the drive northwards as far as I could muster til about 4 in the morning. I had planned to attend Brian Russels forge-in in Yorkshire the day after so grabbed a few hours sleep in the van then finished the journey bright and early in the morning, arriving at about midday to a bustling forge in the countryside. I was in a happy place.


Friends and collegues alike, we all cracked on with exactly the same stuff as we do during a normal working day. But we still enjoy i.

We had a ‘drawing-out’ competition – basically everyone starts with the same sized piece of steel, you get two heats in the fire and you have to forge it out as long as you possibly can…here’s mr Russel himself going for it full tilt…


I came a respectable 6th


Apart from that everyone else was getting on with making pieces to the criteria of elegant design, well made and fitness for purpose – so not just to look pretty.

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Unfortunately I spent too much time mingling and watching demos so only just ran out of time to finish my pair of scissors I was making.

The evening saw a wonderful spread of food followed by a load of booze to fuel the ceidilh. Next day was Sunday, which I spent as one of just a few stragglers hanging about still playing on the forge and snoozing in the fields. Then set off over to Middlesbrough where I had arranged to do a days work for ol’ Peat Oberon as it was bank holiday Monday.

On arriving in one of my normal park up spots I found another worrying sight – a tree had fallen down exactly where I usually park my van… is there some bad omens afoot or summat here…?


Tuesday I headed over to do another few days at Topp & Co – all very well needed money.

Got to see the railings that I had been working on last time I was there in their finished state after all the straightening that had been done on them after the galvanising.


Also got to do a bit on the massive set of gates that were in the works. This is me standing on the board that had been buit to draw the working drawing on…for just one of the gates. They’re gonna be big…


Couldnt resist to get a pic of the ancient wrought iron anchor chain that Topp and Co buy in to chop up and roll out into wrought iron stock…



I stopped the week at Topp’s short and with a van full of tat from the scrap bins, bumbled over to Cumbria where my buddy Olly was having a joint birthday party with our mate Andy. This man owns the most spectacular old water mill, which he has been renovating for the past 20 odd years and has been establishing a wonderful workshop of eccentrically accumulated tools and artefacts, as well as a few old railway carriages that are being converted into accomodation for volunteers and his own narrow guage railway track in his garden!

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We all got busy preparing for the party which was an absolute stonker, with trains to chill in, white space ladies emitting music from their bellies, mysterious mill attics where the king houses his many manikins, concoctions and potions and the funkiest funk movements we could possibly muster, my van even saved the lives of some fairies who fell out of a box…..things keep falling on my vehicles… :/

Unfortunately just after I had got back from the new years fun I got a call from Simon and Alex, which we had all been worriedly expecting – the money for the next big job still hadn’t arrived. So to their credit they gave me as much notice as they could and suggested I started looking for some other work, so I sent out job requests asap. Replies from Iron Art came almost immediately followed closely by Chris Topp of Topp & Co. up in York. I decided to do a stint with Iron Art as that work was certain and within a week I had negotiated starting work up in York by the end of February.

In the three weeks before starting at Topp & co. I did about a week or so at Iron Art and spent the rest of the time sorting out my stuff at my caravan in Stroud and, as I had made some monies recently, searching around for a new two-wheeled toy…which I found all the way down in Cornwall. My mate Emily’s folks live down there so we cruised down and crashed there for the night then I loaded my new zoom zoom in the van and headed back. A couple of days blasting around Bristol and the surrounding area (seeing as the sun was just starting to struggle through the cold) and a few more days at Iron Art then I loaded everything in the van – including the bike – and bumbled up North to start a new work relationship with Topp & Co of York.


Crashed at Olly and Hydi’s the eve I got there and we all got awfully exited that I was living in York now so cracked out the gin as usual!

I was shown to a small shack used to house the journeymen and part time workers like myself so for a small weekly rent I was living in considerable luxury! Just a single room with a sleeping platform, lil kitchenette and a tiny shower room. Electricity and internet so I was happy kicking back listening to some tunes in the evenings.


First day at work and they put me straight on some real forgework for a big set of gates and railings they had been working on for a while. I had to make up 16 ‘S’ scrolls for two four-sided pillars either side of the gates. Olly was making the pillars themselves – first collaboration with my buddy!! 😀

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Wasn’t quite so lucky with the jobs after that – moved onto some serious galvanize clean-up on a massive pair of gates which standardly means fixing or replacing the bits that the monkeys at the galvanizers always seem to manage to destroy.

Settled in very quickly to the working environment and got on swell with all the chaps there, and really enjoyed spending time with Olly n Hydi and started regularly accompanying Hydi at her Monday ashtanga yoga sessions and joined the bouldering wall so was keeping well busy and finally actually doing some after hours activities just for my own pleasure…feels kind of odd!

We started work on the 18 or so panels of railings for this big job, all were set to a slightly different incline so a lot of maths and precision cutting to get the rise just right on the railings. These were then sent off to the galvanisers – it makes you wonder why one bothers to try and make anything straight and accurate if it gets treated like this at the galvanisers. A couple of the guys set about the arduous and frustrating job of completely dismantling the railings that were too bent and distorted from the galv and re assembling them straight again. Thankfully I was put on forging some finials and finishing the other railings. My last job while there was a good’un too – another big set of wrought iron gates needed some stainless steel shoes made and bolted on so they could have components for an electric opening system welded to them. This meant a lot of stainless TIG welding which is something I have not had the chance to do before. I got stuck right in and spent the best part of a day on just the welding, by the end of which I would say I was relatively competent at stainless TIG welding.


I got a few other odds and ends done in my own time at the main workshop after hours and also at Chris Topps personal workshop on weekends which is next door to where I was living. Me and Olly made one of these each out of some 80mm square section…


Also started on some more scissors – only in mild steel but just practicing punching the holes for the handles and forging them out. As well as a small knife…

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I had a month planned in up at Topps, although I would have loved to have done longer for financial and enjoyable reasons – and they would have been keen for the extra help too – I had to get back down south and start work on the alterations to The Nowhere Forge!

I had phoned my mate Jon because there had been words exchanged a while ago about the usage of his workshop. So after a short jellybone conversation we had arranged for me to rock up at his workshop near Bromyard in Worcestershire shortly after finishing at Topps…happy days!

Time to load the van and go for one last late night climbing session…I love having a full van 🙂


My mission now was to dump the bike at Jon’s workshop and drive to Bridgwater to see the state of my trailer, which had been left in a sodden field all winter. I also had to fit a new plug on my van for the light board so there were many uncertainties and possibilities for things to go either wrong or not go at all…

First challenge was getting the van itself into the field without getting stuck because there was no one else there at the time to help – this was a success!

Next was to drag the trailer out of its ruts – without getting stuck. With the use of a lever, some blocks and some patient and calculated jiggery pokery, I managed to eek the trailer out of the pits it had sunk into, hitch it up to the van and in one swift movement drag it out of the field onto some hard standing. I was positively and quite literally jumping with joy.

Next was the plug – Im crap with anything electric. But that took about 15 minutes. Yay!

So I grabbed a quick cuppa with Billy and co who had just got back then headed up to Bristol for an unexpected night down’t pub! Emily also remembered she had a sheet of canvas behind her sofa which she didn’t need – so that’s the awnings sorted!! 😀

All round feeling pretty positive so far…we shall see how this project progresses from here.

Coming up to the Christmas break now and, as much as I am enjoying this seriously needed cash earning knowledge expanding period, I desperately need to make some work for the Society of Designer Craftsmen show coming up in January. I started the quest to make scissors last year but realised I needed a lot more time than I first suspected to learn the basics of scissor making. So now with a bit more practice behind me, I set about with a few sets of swanky scissors for the show. Alex was letting me use his workshop in Malmsbury as they were mostly going to be on site or working at Miserden.



It’s a beautiful workshop and has been a blacksmith’s forge for hundreds of years so it was a pleasure to use it for a few weeks.

I made some alterations to the scales – balanced them properly and altered the copper dishes to be a bit more stable by fixing a base onto each  so they sit comfortably.



One thing I really wanted to get done was a pair of scissors out of a damscus billet I had made earlier. I am getting very interested in smaller scale fine work so making a tiny pair of scissors was quite an exiting prospect!



I also started on a fancy set of more sculptural scissors with the aim for them to be an ergonomic fit in the hand. I made them out of an old file, which I found to be a bit too hard for such fine forgework so I did all I dared and left them normalised rather than hardening them further. Next time I will use a lower carbon steel so there is less risk of burning the carbon while forging it.



The proposed design…



…a few practice runs at forming the handles out of mild…


then went in to forming the actual handles



I also tweaked the large pair of scissors I had made last year to try and get them to cut right. Fortunately Alex shares the building with a few guys who run a lawnmower repairs service and also have a beautiful old workshop and one of them is a master shear sharpener so I got him to teach me the art of hollow grinding. This is a method of sharpening blades by grinding a concave surface onto the faces of the blades to ensure that it is only ever the cutting edges that touch when moving past each other.

I had a quick practice then got stuck into the final sharpening of my scissors.



They also let me use the lathe to turn a few brass rivets for fixing the scissors. When they introduced me to the line-shaft driven workshop I went a little weak at the knees.



There were about 9 machines I counted that ran off the line-shaft including one of the biggest lathes I have ever seen in person, although it hasn’t been used since the last owner of the shop it apparently still runs fine.



I only just managed to finish all the work I wanted to get done for the show and after a long slog of very cold nights in the van and very full and long days of work, it was December 23rd and I was well ready to head on back to Lewes to see my folks for crimbo.

On my way down I stopped via Hampshire along the south coast for a surprise delivery of a little job I had picked up at Blissfields earlier in the year. A couple of very sweet young ladies had asked for some hooks each in the shape of the first letter of their names to hang their christmas stockings on. So in true Simon fashion, I left it to the last possible minute to make and deliver…but I bloody did it and they were super chuffed. Had a quick cuppa and a stroll on the beach the continued back to ma n pa.

Next few days were spent prepping for the show and doing the Christmas thing, which was only simple but very much needed for everyone.

I got the portable science lab out and pickled the damascus scissors as well as sanding and properly finishing the other pairs I had made, then fitted the brass rivets to complete them ready for delivery to the Mall Galleries.



I left the scissors and scales with my very kind daddio to take up to the Mall Galleries and set off back to Bristol where me and my mate Emily hopped in her van for a jaunt up to my buddies Olly and Hydi in York for some new years shinanigans.

After some serious boogying and tomfoolery to see in the new year I made my way back to Bristol via various lifts a couple of days later. From there I headed back over to the Mall Galleries for the private view to which I had invited some old buddies I hadn’t seen for too long and did the chatting and mingling and drinking free wine that comes with being an artist …darling.

My little display – unfortunately the damascus pair of scissors got left in the packaging when being unpacked and, by the time I arrived and realised, were in a box hidden under about a hundred other boxes in a sealed room so unobtainable for the show 😦



Some really lovely work by the other artists at the show. Some of which I was lucky enough to model briefly…



Had a lovely week and a half back at home with my folks before packing up the show and catching up with a few more mates while I was there…gotta jump at these chances while they are there!

Didn’t sell diddly but it was a good show all the same and I’ll be back next year with even bigger gusto and hopefully better scissors…

Back in Lewes I took the chance to do some of the seriously long awaited illustrations for my friend Saffron’s children’s book as I had two illustrator parents and a load of paints, light boxes, paper, pens and SPACE at my disposal.

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I realised that deep down I had been terrified of starting this work as I have never done any illustration or drawing work on any kind of professional level. After making a start I felt a lot more relaxed about the whole thing and got some good progress made. So after a week of pleasant drawing and tasty food in a warm house I said bye to mama wolf and papa bear and buggered off straight to Wales to meet Saffron and Chris and show them the fresh progress over tea and cakes. They were absolutely chuffed which made me chuffed and gave me a bit more confidence in the drawing malarkey.

Just got to keep up the momentum now!

My dear mother’s friend Gitta had just come into some money, started up gallery space in Guildford town centre for her husband, Stephan’s artwork ( along with other local artists.

I arrived at the gallery and said a big huggy hello to my folks and Gitta and Stephan and all their Gford crew, sat and had a coffee and cake (which I wholeheartedly enjoyed buying myself with my own money which I was enormously appreciating now having) plonked the bench in its proud position in the shop and went on my merry way back down to Lewes with my folks.



I was soon to be joined by 5 of my lovliest bestest friends who had travelled from all corners of our little country to enjoy the Lewes Bonfire night with me…and my, what a humdinger of an enjoyable night (and relative days before and after) it was.


After all the crew had slowly and sadly dispersed back to normality, I stuck around for a couple of days before setting forth again back towards my new home for the next few months. I got back to my caravan in bath feeling a bit ill from all the fun I had been having but soon pushed through that man-flu and packed up my caravan with the help of lovely Jo.

And off I went to my new pitch in a new field with a new place to work…


Simon Doyle and Alex Coode have joined forces to start the Heritage Blacksmith Partnership. They focus mainly on conservation work, which is something I have been very interested in trying out and learning more of.

The majority of the work I was to be doing with them would be at their workshop in Miserden just outside of Stroud that has previously been owned by the legendary Michael Roberts.


They also run the forge in Malmsbury, where I had dropped my tools earlier, which is the forge that Alex has been working from for the last 10 or so years, then a few miles down the road from there is an industrial unit which they use for painting.

I have pitched my caravan at a campsite about 15 minutes drive from Miserden and about 30 miles from the other workshops because I will be spending most of my time at the Miserden forge.

Its absolutely stunning scenery around the site owned by a lovely couple and just a few other residents on their farm. This is probably the most established and geographically settled I have been since I started this blog…. I actually have a regular commute to work! 😀

I arrived in the middle of a job for a restoration over in Cardigan, Wales. It’s a set of curved railings, two sections in each, one needs rusted sections replacing and the other needed completely remaking from scratch.


After about a week on this we started on the next job which was straightening out a big set of gates which were dauntingly twisty.

It took an awful lot of standing back and having headscratching discussions about where to heat or bend to straighten the whole thing – when a gate is connected at so many points (i.e each upright along the top, mid and bottom rails) it is nearly impossible to predict where the tension is being held so straightening one section may throw another completely out…pain in the aris.

This is them after the straightening extravaganza…didnt get a pick of before but trust me they were bad…


I got to experience a fair few firsts while working here, for a start they forge using coal as apposed to coke, so you just have to pre-heat the coal next to the fire before using it. Being conservation specialists they also do a lot of the repairs in pure iron or re-use the original wrought iron. Working these materials is very different to working mild steel, you can get them up to a much higher temperature more safely but they don’t stand so well when worked too cold – basically the hotter the better….and they forge like plastazine!

To keep to the NOS (National Occupational Standards) for conservation and restoration ironwork, we have to use the existing material as much as possible, welding it together or making new components from it. So I got a lot of fire welding done which is yet again a different experience on a coal fire!


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Cheeky fire weld and some forged tennons

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The whole front stile needed repairing and bit replacing and straightening and re riveting….even a bit of treatment with the NOS standard fire welding gun…


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As well as the conservation work I got a few other odds and ends made while there – a couple of nice strap hinges (pic shows them before rolling up the hinge socket) and the pintel, which Simon was particularly impressed with.

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Got the Cardigan raillings finished and loaded them up ready to take down to their paint shop in Malmsbury. Also some gates they had worked on before I started…