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I Forge Iron

Mastercrafts of Blacksmithing

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Just finished watching the last few minutes of it, and I couldn't be more disappointed in the gate that won.


I don't know anything about the judge except he won a gold metal, but he couldn't have chosen a worse gate for the win.  I would really like to learn more about this group that he belongs to and why he was so worthy of a gold medal.  I'm not saying he isn't worthy of it, but I'm really curious as to what it takes considering they haven't given out but a scant handful in a few hundred years.  


As I watched the program, I was amazed at the technical skill the novices picked up.  But there were some very important lessons to be learned.


I noted that the guy that took third built a gate that didn't please the homeowners (just listen to them work hard at being polite!), and it didn't open the full ninety degrees.  This was, imo, a direct result of him interjecting too much of his wants and desires into the project.  The client was very clear that they wanted something that fit the time period, and he failed to keep that in consideration.  A dragon's head?  To be honest, I couldn't recognize it for that and even the homeowners were surprised at it because they hadn't requested anything of the sort.


The 3D design was nice, and if had left it as a bow-front gate, I think he would have clinched the win.  Simple and clean, with just a touch of elegance to display the custom nature of the product.


Is there a name for the leafy detail he did on the ends of the styles?  I really liked how that looked as a finial.


The guy that won first had some strong narcissistic tendencies.  I would have thought he'd learn his lesson when he failed to make the candle holder to spec, but I was wrong.  The overall gate, imo, was garish, busy, and didn't really serve to tell me any story.  Again, the body language of the homeowner seems to indicate that she wasn't overly pleased with it, either.


I did like how he broke through the plane with some of the scrolls, and I thought his roses looked very, very good.


The clear winner, though, was the underdog.  Her gate had a neat, clean appearance.  The leaves looked very real to my eye, and the butterfly was a nice touch.  The story of the piece was very easy to read, it's some herons in the weeds!


The judge was right to call her out on the latch she made.  It was very amateurish compared to the rest of the gate and really stood out.  But, she was also the only one of the three that got was seemed to be a very positive and enthusiastic response from the homeowner.  That's the biggest criteria they needed to meet.


Overall, I thought that all three made great strides in terms of skill and I'm really thankful to the BBC for doing a good job of producing the show.  I'd dearly love to have a smithy that nice!

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All valid points, and I would not disagree with you, the judging was done to criteria, and these have been revised since this programme. (Client satisfaction is not on the judging criteria, normally these are used at show ground judging situations, and that presents its own problems, the "WOW" factor is also not taken into specific consideration,)


However at the end of the day its the clients reaction, and would they pay for the item that counts,


For anyone interested in knowing more about the Judging criteria, there will be an open judging seminar to be held on April 13th 2013 Hosted by Kingston Maurward College, Dorchester, Dorset, UK.


Primarily this will be to explain the new judging scheme, and what criteria are being judged, also the responsibilties of the show stewards involved with the NBCC competitions.


It would also be of interest to anyone thinking of entering into exhibiting their work or competing at shows, or just generally seeing what good quality wrought work is about, some of the UK's best blacksmiths will be there, and approachable.


Whilst these judging criteria are standardised, the judges each have their own individual character and to get a fair result from the show circuit each NBCC approved judge is only allowed to judge at one show each year. And not all agree on the same items that are classed as winners.



The "leafy detail" is an adaptation of a water leaf  Lesson 14 Water Leaves from the CoSIRA book Wrought Ironwork. 



Edited by John B
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Thanks, John B, for chiming in.  I didn't want to come across as rude, but I was honestly surprised at how it turned out. 


The entire premise of the show is fantastic, and I really enjoy seeing folks continuing on the old crafts.  Too bad that the BBC doesn't offer these shows online so we can see back issues and the like.  That thatching episode looked very interesting.

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Dominic's gate was really good for the most part, except the jumbled looking scrolls and bars on the inside of the 3D part, which I assume is supposed to be a dragon (though even knowing, I can't tell). I find it interesting that the clients said they didn't want a dragon, though there was a dragon's head on the drawing that they accepted.  I do think it opened 90degs, its just that when it was being demonstrated they were swinging it in short arcs just to feel how smooth it was.

I think Dominic's gate deserved 3rd, but it is interesting the difference between your perception and my own, because I thought that it was Dominic that was rather narcissistic. He just bothered me, but that was perhaps just because his personality and mine don't get on well. Funny how the one who picked all the technical skill up the fastest, and was the one the show portrayed as the best, was the one who's gate wasn't completely up to snuff because he interjected what he wanted to do above what the client wanted. Perhaps if it was better executed it wouldn't have been such a big deal.


I think Jill's gate was very impressive, though there were a few things I personally didn't care for. I think the bullrushes would have looked a lot better had they been a tighter twist than they were. The heron was made out of round stock that felt a bit thin as well, though it was very well formed, and the overall design of the gate was excellent. She had a great eye for composition.

Hugh's gate was my favorite (by a very small margin). It had an interesting story in it, and it sounded as if it was worked out with the client in the plans. And despite choosing something that was obviously above his current skill level (or so everyone thought), he showed that limits are not all they are cracked up to be. I do think that his spider web was poorly made, but only on the one tendril that was completely off center from all the others. Overall, I loved his design, as it filled space nicely, without seeming overly busy; there was definitely a sense of "Forest" there, albiet a stylized one.

I did think that Hugh fit more with my personality, which could affect my partiality I think. Not to say that a few things he did didn't bother the heck out of me (when he blew off his instructor, for instance). But he was more soft-spoken and reserved I think, though he wasn't afraid to say that he really liked his gate. That may not be pride as much as excitement at accomplishing something though; something I felt with my first successful pair of tongs after so many frustrations.

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