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Hey Guys,

 

this time I don´t want to promote my own work, but the one of a really great traditional blacksmith in the UK. His name is Simon Grant-Jones and here are two videos:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lfBZdzJvySs

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh0sz6yw_F4

 

And this picture I also found, he made this candleholder only using traditional techniques:

 

39108_103769916348453_253061_n.jpg

 

In my eyes that prooves, that one can definatelly survive as a traditionally working blacksmith, not using archwelders and stuff like that. My eyes hurt every time when I see ugly, welded or machineforged fences in the city or even on historic buildings. Take this as a motivation to try to stay as traditional as possible. The smith has always been an innovator, but if stuff starts to be ugly and cheap, this is no innovation, but a stark step backwards!

 

 

 

Your

- Daniel

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A very good example, Daniel. This is the same thought/idea/feeling I also stand for. This is the way to keep the old/traditional techniques alive and pass them on.

Though, you will have to look into have much he actually earns doing it this way.  But besides that, it's still proof. And if I can do the same, doing everything traditionally, I certainly will.

 

For me there is no pressure that I HAVE to make money in the trade this way. I simply love it too much to become a modern smith. I then rather do it as a big hobby, traditionally and do another job, so I can pay my bills.

 

Again, a very good example.

 

 

Joe

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A very good example, Daniel. This is the same thought/idea/feeling I also stand for. This is the way to keep the old/traditional techniques alive and pass them on.

Though, you will have to look into have much he actually earns doing it this way.  But besides that, it's still proof. And if I can do the same, doing everything traditionally, I certainly will.

 

For me there is no pressure that I HAVE to make money in the trade this way. I simply love it too much to become a modern smith. I then rather do it as a big hobby, traditionally and do another job, so I can pay my bills.

 

Again, a very good example.

 

 

Joe

 

Thank you for this comment, Joe.  I doubt that he makes "the big money" with it, but that is not what counts for him, I guess. And that is also the reason why I don´t want to become a professional smith because I would then may have to use techniques I simply don´t want to use and that would take away all joy of it. The innovation that the smith should undergo is to develop techniques how to increase the quantity, without losing the quality. Unfortunately a lot of people today misinterpret this innovative character of the blacksmith and think that the easiest way is always the way to go. And I believe that if you have the skill to forge your stuff efficiently, causing little costs and work time without making the work piece itself cheap quality you can survive with it. And there are at least some examples that prove that (Habermann, Bullermann, Aspery, Brazeal, Grant-Jones... just to name a few).

 

Since I heard of the blacksmith school of Julien, that he had to close because the French state cut the subsidies I hope that I will be able to support trade schools like his, that teach traditional techniques, in the case I will one day have the financial and influential power to do this. This way I might do way more for the craft than when I would found a blacksmith shop and maybe even go bankrupt and never able to forge in my live again.

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Simon is an active member of the Blacksmiths Guild UK and also member and webmaster for the National Blacksmiths Competition Committee and thoroughly deserves this recognition. Currently he also teaches students at Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester, in Dorset passing on his skills and encouraging others to follow his example, he can also be seen at other events the Guild host where he is pleased to talk to anyone to help them and often picks up the tools to demonstrate or compete in friendly rivalry, Finch FOuundry St Clems day celebrations is another event he regularly attends, bringing along some of his students to take a trip into the past working conditions of the industrial blacskmith.

 

If you would like to see his work and more like it go to the National Shows where you can usually see him competing in both live competitions and static ironwork exhibits alongside some of the UK's best practitioners

 

http://www.blacksmithscompetition.co.uk/  has venues and details including some pictures of exhibits at the shows involved,

 

 NBCC SHOW DATES 2013

North Somerset Show May 6th

 

Devon County Show May 16th, 17th, 18th

 

Royal Bath and West May 29th, 30th, 31st, June 1st

 

South of England Show June 6th, 7th, 8th

 

Royal Cornwall Show June 6th, 7th, 8th

 

Three Counties Show June 14th, 15th, 16th

 

Royal Welsh Show July 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th

 

New Forest and Hampshire July 30th, 31st, August 1st

 

Edenbridge and Oxted August 25th, 26th


SImon Also featured in the Metalwork series on the BBC, talking about Robert Bakewells work among other things, and this can currently be seen on the BBC iPlayer for those who can access it.

 

Here he is at Finch Foundry with curator Roger Boney at the St Clem's Day celebration signing a book that was published to support "The High Street" series on the TV, where he was the resident blacksmith and this series showed why blacksmithing declined over the last few hundred years.

 

post-816-0-65405700-1354569838_thumb.jpg

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Great to see such talent still lives, and I really appreciate him working to keep a lot of the basic skills alive!  A lot of today's smiths focus on the decorative stuff and wouldn't have a clue as to how to properly make a thatcher's knife, or any knife of worth.

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This was a different and awesomely informative forge welding video.  

 

Prior to this I did not think you should let sparks come from the fire for very long.  I always thought burning was bad and that as soon as you saw sparks and burning that it was time to get the metal out.  He counts to 5.

 

He said that he needs extra metal to burn away.  I always heard that upsetting was to keep the thickness I guess more due to hammering really hot stuff too thin.   I guess it's both then?

 

I saw him lift the metal to see the sparks better while in the fire, shooting out from underneath.

 

I saw him point the metal down into the fire.  I have often been told not to do this but rather to keep things level and make sure you have fire above and below.  Fire deep had too much oxygen and burns whereas fire above had just heat.  He seems to go for the heat verses go for the no oxygen heat.

 

I did not see any reference or use of flux???

 

His explanation of the scarfs and how they should fit was different than what I have seen.   BUt I am slow and dense at times so I may just have missed this elsewhere.    

 

He showed how he quickly made a scarf.   I can do that!

 

He showed how to lever one pice to hold the other piece and drop the tongs.   I can do that!

 

Nice vid.  Thanks!!!!

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Borntoolate, I think the advice you got about fire welding was good. The fire welding shown in this video is a bit more "old school" English style forge welding. It is what it is, and in this instance we can see that it got the job done quite nicely.

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He should have made it from wrought iron as its the traditional material, The reality of this situation is that blacksmiths and blacksmiting historian's are the people who care about traditions in this manner, Habbermann used electric welding and not much but his restoration work was in traditional design, Blacksmithing and its technical aspects are relatively unknown to the common man, lack of interest and education are the cause. The truth about blacksmithing is, its a skill that requires great effort and investment of time and it may not be truly understood or appreciated but if you love it and want to do it. I suggest you just do it, there isn't much in this world to be afraid of you can always make life work. Live a modest life, do what you love,push yourself for success understand that there are many types of success, being free and happy is far more valuable than anything.

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His work is beautiful and I like his philosophy but "making a living" is relative to each person and "traditional" has the same issues with definition.  We've had the discussion here many times of where someone draws the line in their own interpretation.  In this particular thread, the line appears to be electric welding vs fire welding but we can start a similar discussion on whether someone should use a power hammer or a human striker with a sledge - or does someone producing tenon joints with an upsetter and hydraulic press qualify as "traditional" since the final assembly is done without welding?

 

I believe it's less about the process and more about the end result.  People can turn out bad work using completely manual tools or with the most modern machines.

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Simon is an active member of the Blacksmiths Guild UK and also member and webmaster for the National Blacksmiths Competition Committee and thoroughly deserves this recognition. Currently he also teaches students at Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester, in Dorset passing on his skills and encouraging others to follow his example, he can also be seen at other events the Guild host where he is pleased to talk to anyone to help them and often picks up the tools to demonstrate or compete in friendly rivalry, Finch FOuundry St Clems day celebrations is another event he regularly attends, bringing along some of his students to take a trip into the past working conditions of the industrial blacskmith.

 

If you would like to see his work and more like it go to the National Shows where you can usually see him competing in both live competitions and static ironwork exhibits alongside some of the UK's best practitioners

 

http://www.blacksmithscompetition.co.uk/  has venues and details including some pictures of exhibits at the shows involved,

 

 NBCC SHOW DATES 2013

North Somerset Show May 6th

 

Devon County Show May 16th, 17th, 18th

 

Royal Bath and West May 29th, 30th, 31st, June 1st

 

South of England Show June 6th, 7th, 8th

 

Royal Cornwall Show June 6th, 7th, 8th

 

Three Counties Show June 14th, 15th, 16th

 

Royal Welsh Show July 22nd, 23rd, 24th, 25th

 

New Forest and Hampshire July 30th, 31st, August 1st

 

Edenbridge and Oxted August 25th, 26th


SImon Also featured in the Metalwork series on the BBC, talking about Robert Bakewells work among other things, and this can currently be seen on the BBC iPlayer for those who can access it.

 

Here he is at Finch Foundry with curator Roger Boney at the St Clem's Day celebration signing a book that was published to support "The High Street" series on the TV, where he was the resident blacksmith and this series showed why blacksmithing declined over the last few hundred years.

 

attachicon.gifSimon's Book Signing 2.JPG

Wow that is some great information! Thank you!

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He should have made it from wrought iron as its the traditional material, The reality of this situation is that blacksmiths and blacksmiting historian's are the people who care about traditions in this manner, Habbermann used electric welding and not much but his restoration work was in traditional design, Blacksmithing and its technical aspects are relatively unknown to the common man, lack of interest and education are the cause. The truth about blacksmithing is, its a skill that requires great effort and investment of time and it may not be truly understood or appreciated but if you love it and want to do it. I suggest you just do it, there isn't much in this world to be afraid of you can always make life work. Live a modest life, do what you love,push yourself for success understand that there are many types of success, being free and happy is far more valuable than anything.

 

Simon. like many others uses appropriate material for the project/job in hand.

 

The TV programme with the Bakewell example also included shots of Simon producing similar leaf items that were later incorporated into a grill seen here.

 

post-816-0-44761100-1354644787_thumb.jpg

 

This piece went on to various shows and Simon was declared UK Champion Blacksmith 2012 for his outstanding work, there is also another UK Champion Blacksmith for the Live forging competitions, Simon did not compete in the live competitons this year

 

The BBC wanted Simon to work in wrought iron for the tv programme, but due to the lack of quality material that is available to purchase through the UK supplier of reclaimed wrought iron, the choice of material was Pure Iron, equally recognised as an acceptable substitute by the restoration specifiers, guaranteed material specification, a lot less cost to purchase, and more easily available, so the grill and leafwork were done in this material.

 

Whilst not denigrating the quality of work in the grill there are certain things that are technically incorrect in it.

 

It was also further spoilt as the end result had to be hot dipped galvanised and that also detracted from the clarity of finish.

 

Simon is well aware of this, and it is part of life's learning curve, there are always things we can do to improve . The trick in this industry is knowing when enough is enough, and you are satisfied with the work you have done, search for perfection and you will be disappointed.

 

The video was put up because he felt there was need for one that was more informational than those he had seen from other sources on the internet, and these days steels as opposed to wrought iron is what we mainly work in. This was an exercise in showing how he regularly forge welds steel, It is not necessary to use flux as that can also bring its own problems.

 

In the NBCC competition arena there is a definition for traditional classes.

 

In the real world, traditional methods are the methods available to us as they are at today.

 

As blacksmiths we are pushing to expand the boundaries of how we use/process metals so we keep the traditional methods and techniques alive, and update them daily, that is what becomes tradition

 

Use appropriate techniques and live by your standards, personally I have turned work down because I choose not to lower my standards, and having now retired am glad I chose that path.

 

If success is measured by job satisfaction, and not the $$$ or £££ 's I am indeed wealthy. The advantage also being that "they" have not yet figured out a way to tax job satisfaction.

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This post is particularly interesting to me as I've recently returned to archery.  While reading up on recurve bows I learned that there are subsets of archers who choose to focus on some version of "traditional" or "primitive".  What strikes me about both of these topics is how sanctimonious some folks get about technology and techniques that developed after the period they're interested in.  

 

Don't get me wrong, if you're pursuing living history- that's very cool and I deeply appreciate the appeal.  What get's me is how re-enactors at a living history museum will respond to modern concepts like it's an alien thought- there's no malice towards innovation, progress, and contemporary thinking.   Much like a monk's thinking.   In contrast I'm finding this isn't often the case with traditionally minded Blacksmithing and Archery.  I think that's really odd since most of what appeals to me about these topics is how simple materials can be harnessed by creative minds to solve problems and make cool things.

 

Heck, while reading about recurve archery competition I encountered a group that expressly forbid shooters from pulling the bow string with three fingers under the arrow!  This was from a "traditional" group.  This group comes across as unconcerned with anyone's tradition but their own specific views - kind of like a hermit with an internet connection.

 

I can appreciate the hard work and knowledge that goes into a piece of work. I can relate to the desire to withdraw from the contemporary to master something meaningful to yourself.   I can also appreciate a bullseye no matter who shot it.  I'm grateful to live in an age where I can experience the old and the new at my own pace.  

 

I can don the curmudgeon cap and say the modern thing I could do without is the idea that everything must be a specialty.  Dividing everything up works against sharing the body of knowledge our ancestors built.  It's my understanding there are more blacksmiths in the U.S. today than before there were cars.  I believe that's because we have the free time to pursue our interests at very little cost because the information is free online.  I love being "unplugged" while blacksmithing - I also love that I can learn about blacksmithing at my computer.  I see no reason to disparage the technology between the two.

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I have always figured I will make an item as perfect or "traditional" as the customer is willing to pay me.

 

It is good to see that many smiths are continuing the traditional techniques, but that is just as important as embracing the new technologies. In order for the craft to not just survive but thrive both techniques must be embraced. There will be customers who will be willing to shell out the money to have something that is constructed using completely traditional techniques. But the majority of the world today is unaware of what is traditional and what looks traditional. In my opinion, the digital world would appreciate the complete hand craftsmanship quality of a traditional constructed item, but for many the pocket book is the deciding factor. 

 

Arch welders are not that much of a problem compared to some means of fabrication. What drives me up the wall are yard fences that are made of cast iron imitating forged iron work, and worse yet are the fabricated fences and driveway gates made from aluminum. I cant stand seeing those around town. 

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I have always figured I will make an item as perfect or "traditional" as the customer is willing to pay me.

 

It is good to see that many smiths are continuing the traditional techniques, but that is just as important as embracing the new technologies. In order for the craft to not just survive but thrive both techniques must be embraced. There will be customers who will be willing to shell out the money to have something that is constructed using completely traditional techniques. But the majority of the world today is unaware of what is traditional and what looks traditional. In my opinion, the digital world would appreciate the complete hand craftsmanship quality of a traditional constructed item, but for many the pocket book is the deciding factor. 

 

Arch welders are not that much of a problem compared to some means of fabrication. What drives me up the wall are yard fences that are made of cast iron imitating forged iron work, and worse yet are the fabricated fences and driveway gates made from aluminum. I cant stand seeing those around town. 

Unfortunatelly a lot of people today don´t appreciate or know the real art behind it anymore. Today I waited for the bus in front of an extremely bad industrially produced and extremely visuably welded fence and I said man that is ugly. It could look so much nice made propperly. And they just said "it looks fine that way to me. Isn´t it the same handmade and mass produced" Then I said to them "It is like if I would give you a printout of the mona lisa and you would say 'what do I wan´t with it, it´s no real painting' and I´d say it would just be the same."

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I recently submitted a costing for some 30 odd yards of railings, conservation specified wrought iron. Cost for the wrought iron material? Around £12,000.

Yes, "WOW!" is right.

 

I'd like to see what the comparable cost was in the Pure Iron, the conservation specified wrought iron is the result of an excellent marketing plan, and not necessarily the best for the job in situ.

 

Most of this conservation supply of wrought iron is reprocessed scrap and of inconsistent quality there are very few who have access to the genuine wrought iron as opposed to the "Real Wrought Iron",

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Thanks for all the kind remarks made concerning my videos. Trying to remain totally traditional in a modern world is almost impossible and many an old smith has said to me "if Tijou had an arc welder he would have used it" I totally agree with this statement, but it is like anything that anyone wants to do well and to the best of their ability.....you have to know how to do it right before you can ever hope to understand a technique or process, whether you work traditionally or not.In effect, you have to know the rules before you can break them. I was taught by a renowned English smith and the first thing he told me was "Simon, there is no such thing as a self taught Blacksmith" and I am sure that by subscribing and contributing to this most informative site we are all endorsing that statement. Without sharing in our knowledge and ideas, it is that much more difficult for our profession to move forward. My first ever course 20 years ago was tongmaking, a simple topic or so I thought. My tutor made me fireweld the reins to the jaws. It took me three days to get two pieces to stick together and my career nearly ended before it began. I had never been so disappointed in all of my life, as this was something that I really wanted to do and it was so xxxx difficult. This was my turning point, Blacksmithing was no longer just an option, it was a lifelong challenge.I practised in my own forge for three months solid and then attended another course, I felt on top of the world when I effortlessly welded two pieces together in front of my tutor.He looked at me calmly and said "I see you have been practicing". I was looking for more recognition at my superhuman achievement, but then it dawned on me that Blacksmiths do not become skilled overnight, they have to practice techniques as I did, and on a greater scale than I could have ever imagined. I vowed to myself that Blacksmithing was to become my life and that I would promote it at every opportunity to anyone who wanted to know about it and share my enthusiasm. I was fortunate enough to be pushed into entering one of the County shows about fifteen years ago and this is where I met people such as John B from the Blacksmiths guild and other pivitol figures in the Blacksmithing world such as Bob Hobbs (gold medalist with the worshipful Company of Blacksmiths) and Richard Jones, current live champion Blacksmith,I have never looked back. I am the current UK National champion Blacksmith for the second time and have been reserve twice, I am also a Licentiate of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths of London (a recognised teacher of the trade)and I always tell my students that we don't just strive to make a living, we make a lifestyle. I am sorry to appear boastful, but when my students say to me "you make it look so easy", I reply that "I was in exactly the same position as you once". Without other smiths graciously passing on their knowledge and expertise I would still be trying to stick those two pieces together and would maybe have taken a different career path altogether. The videos are a little bit of payback and hopefully inspiration to other budding national champion and potential professionals, the techniques that I show are not set in stone and don't need to be religiously followed to get the right result. I still learn many techniques from my students who come to my classes with their own ideas and I still "invent" things that I find have been in existence for thousands of years already. That is the beauty of our profession, you will never know it all. Simon Grant-Jones www.simongrant-jones.com

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About six months ago I read an article about trends in Architecture and was very surprised to learn that there was an entire movement dedicated to making bland and massive concrete monoliths.  "Brutalist Architecture" is an apt name indeed!  

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brutalist_architecture

 

I brought this up because it's not always about price but the intent of the look.  Until I encountered that article it had never occurred to me that anyone actually wanted such ugly buildings.  I always figured it was to build as cheaply as possible. The truth is that most of the stuff built as cheaply as possible hasn't lasted.  I think of this every time I see a public project under construction. Thankfully the brutalist designs have lost favor in my area- I'm glad to see them go.

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