Heavy metal gurus: Blacksmiths show off traditional skills

Metal work: Blacksmith Robert Smith working at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet.   Picture: Roger Nadal
Metal work: Blacksmith Robert Smith working at Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet. Picture: Roger Nadal
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HEAVY metal mania took over Sheffield’s Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet as the city welcomed the country’s largest annual gathering of blacksmiths.

Forges were fired up as more than 40 members of the British Artists Blacksmith Association showed off their skills as part of the Galvanize Sheffield festival.

One of the objectives of the event was to create a piece of public art for the city that will eventually go on display in the Winter Garden.

Visitors saw the craftsmen and women making a variety of decorative and functional metalwork and sculpture from molten iron and steel.

They worked with fire, hammer and anvil to shape and join metal giving it real individual quality and character.

Today’s generation of blacksmiths also wed their traditional skills to computer- aided design, sophisticated welding and cutting systems, and power hammers.

Among the items on show were ornate gates, railings and staircases, furniture for homes and gardens and a whole variety of other items from door knockers to jewellery.

There was also a ‘family forge’ where mums, dads and children could have a go at creating something of their own.

Blacksmith Dan Liggins has his own Black Dragon Forge at Stanton-in-the-Peak in the Peak District and said he was determined to keep the old-fashioned ways alive.

He said: “I still use traditional ways combined with modern techniques.

“But I am something of a purist in the kind of work that I take on.”

The Sheffield University graduate created a series of Edwardian Gates at Ravenstor, near Buxton, a youth hostel owned by the National Trust.

“One of the great things about work like that is you are always learning stuff – from a blacksmith who probably died 150 years ago.

“He is showing how he solved a problem all those years ago. If you see someone staring at a piece of old ironwork it will be a blacksmith.”

Also at the event was Michael Kusz from North Yorkshire who creates exotic animals and mythical beasts from scrap metal.

He said: “Having gained qualifications in art, I have broadened my skills, refined my sensitivity, gained materials expertise, unravelled symbolism and cultivated a good memory.”