What a long weekend! Two days manning the pop up exhibition at Etruria. I didn’t have much time to look at the static steam engines on display yesterday or the classic cars today. The place wasn’t buzzing but there was a constant stream of people coming in. Most of them were interested in what we were doing, what the building used to be used for, or decided to let their children make things with clay. A few people walked in took one look and walked out again. Sometimes they even asked where the tea room was.
Etruria Artists had paintings, photos, ceramics, jewellery and even painted stones on display. It was good to share the space with other artists there. I even bought a pottery frog, a mug and a whale.
So many people to talk to, to help, to explain to. I also helped a bit children with modelling clay. My friends usually do this and I just helped when they were not around. We made frogs and ladybirds, and an owl. Sadly I didn’t take any photos of the pieces as I forgot my phone.
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!
Etruria Artists hold art sessions at the Warehouse at Etruria on a Thursday evening.
Now big changes are happening. The building is having a disabled toilet and a new kitchenette. This should make it much more usable although we will lose storage space for our art equipment.
So this evening we were surrounded by an old canoe, a canal diorama, bits of wood, some blocks that built into a bridge, planks that pigeons had roosted on and other junk. Most of it had been stored on a platform above the current kitchen and store cupboard. We helped carry some of it out to a skip. My friend Robert rescued some of it, to be recycled later. My hubby wanted to bring back a six foot long, three foot high and wide, table base but I vetoed that as we already had wooden blocks in the car.
I’m not sure when the work will be done but I think it will make it far more comfortable to use.
I’m at Etruria in Stoke-on-Trent today, at the warehouse along the Trent and Mersey canal from the Etruria industrial museum. It’s at the point where two canals meet. The Trent and Mersey and the Cauldon canal.
If you want to find me I’m next to summit lock 40 of the Trent and Mersey. To get in you either have to walk up a steep cobbled surface then walk down some steps, or walk through a work yard which is currently partially blocked by two big palettes of coal. We are not well signposted. I might try and rectify that!
Mirror, mirror on the wall
Who is the sweetest of them all?
This is a mirror and surround made by Sculpted Steel at the Forge at Etruria Industrial museum. The actual mirror is a quarter of this but I was playing with duplicating photos again.
The blacksmith, Charis is very talented and has had work exhibited at Tatton Park, I think at one of the garden shows.
Just a few, sketched while at the Etruria festival. There was a giant chess board which I drew with a black sharpie, a few people were playing the game, but it seemed mainly young children walking across the board.
I was trying to draw the trees round the back of the museum. The trouble was there were too many leaves. One of the drawings is of the flint mill chimney and part of my husbands head. The other is of a couple sitting and drinking tea. I didn’t want them to know so I kept having to look away when they looked towards me.