The cat sculpture by Charis Jones, of Sculpted Steel based at the Forge at Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent, has settled nicely into the greenery of our garden. It stares out from between geraniums and lilies. The light glints on its glass eyes and shows off the lovely green coppery finish.
I don’t commission art very often, but Charis translated my two dimensional drawing into a remarkably beautiful cat. Proud and purrfect. It’s crinkly whiskers full of character. I’m pleased to possess it.
I give you ‘Mikeowl’ made by wonderful blacksmith, Charis Jones, of Sculpted Steel. She’s based at Etruria Forge in Stoke-on-Trent. I bought it last year at a gallery in Eccleshall. I think it’s called Gallery at Twenty? It’s on our mantlepiece. The background is a plate my hubby coloured in and varnished at the Gladstone pottery. I thought it made a good backdrop. The thing that gets me is the spiral eyes. It’s just so cute!
And other images from the Forge at Etruria. I was there today and took a few photos in the beautiful mid September sunshine we had today.
When the sun is bright and low it casts deep shadows and picks out intricate details that you might otherwise miss.
The glow from the flames of the Forge added to the atmosphere, you can almost feel the heat coming off those flames.
The Forge is the domain of Sculpted Steel. You can see demonstrations of the blacksmiths work on open days at Etruria Industrial museum.
We went to a blacksmithing workshop today and bashed metal with hammers between heating it up in a forge. It took a few hours to learn how to make a coil of metal as a keyring and a letter opener.
Our tutor was Charis Jones, who runs Sculpted Steel at the Forge at Etruria Industrial museum. She patiently talked us through the many steps to turn both a bar and a strip of mild steel into the objects we chose to make. Other choices included a snail and a poker.
I don’t have the grip I used to have and trying to hold a piece of metal in a pair of tongs was very difficult. I dropped my work on the floor a few times, and you can’t just bend over and pick up red hot metal, you have to be very careful. Luckily no one got burned despite handling white hit metal.
The hardest thing is being able to hammer properly, my wrists felt weak and my arms were aching. (They still are).
You can see our efforts and what we were trying to do in the photos. They are next to the examples of how they should look. I overheated my letter opener blade and the tip broke off. Luckily Charis sorted it out (which is why it’s shorter than my hubbies work). He seemed to take to it naturally and it helped calm him down. Very good for concentration and ‘flow’.
I think having an experience like this gives you an insight into how difficult the craft of blacksmithing is. What you realise is that it may look simple, but it isn’t!
Charis Jones is a blacksmith and sculptor who runs Sculpted Steel at the Etruria Forge in Etruria Stoke-on-Trent. She is based in the Forge and can be contacted to commission sculptural work. She created a large cat sculpture for our garden.
This weekend she was demonstrating her skills during a steaming weekend at The Etruria Industrial Museum. Home of Jessie Shirley’s bone and flint mill.
The beam engine that powers the flint grinding pans is steamed about once a month.
As with other places in the potteries this is one of those hidden gems that people don’t know about but which are fascinating to visit
Photos courtesy my friend Lorraine.
My cat sculpture that I bought from a local blacksmith has moved since we had the shed put up. You can rest a plant pot on its tail. I love the glass eyes that she put in.
I would love to do a blacksmith workshop and learn how to do some basic twirls and twiddle.
I was so impressed by the skill of my friend. She has also got the ability to translate a 2d sketch that I did to a 3d sculpture.