Chris Eckersley Archive

Juliet Fishenden

Prior to the industrial revolution, the humble blacksmith was installed at his forge in every country village throughout the land. His bread and butter trade was practical ironwork producing horse tack, farm tools and ploughs and in the less enlightened ages, swords and armour.

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People soon started to employ the local smithy to make decorative objects that would adorn any home, objects that would be passed down the generations. And where does a blacksmith derive his inspiration for such objects? Out of the window.

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Mother Nature features a near infinite range of shapes and forms but the most pleasing to the eye become the classics whose design weathers the years just like the iron they are made of. One such classic is the Ram’s Horn.

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The pleasing curves leading to the sharpened tip is one of Made by the Forge’s signature pieces and can be found as a curtain pole finial (above shown in beeswax), a curtain hold back (below shown in matt black finish).

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It is also the decorative centre to Chris Eckersley’s Standard Floor Lamp. It is extraordinary how a still powerful and classic design can be forged to compliment contemporary lighting and as a fusion of both past and present, it creates its own unique identity.

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Juliet Fishenden

We often turn to talent and craftsmanship in other disciplines to set off and compliment Made by the Forge’s products. For our new wrought iron standard lamps, designed by Chris Eckesley, we needed appropriate lampshades. When we saw the lovely work of Annette Rolston, we were compelled to collaborate with her and Mike Fenton to use their playful, artistic and distinctly British lampshades.

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Annette and Mike specialise in painting and printmaking and take their inspiration from where else but the East Anglian countryside. Mike’s expertise is in his depiction of animals in the tiniest detail and both are experts in the craft of linocutting, the intricate art of creating an image by cutting into lino and taking prints off it.

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Annette is drawn more to the abstract and creates patterned work though still based on nature’s varied landscapes especially trees and leaves. Sometimes her inspirations come from the cellular level where the abstract thrives in endless detail. The lamps and lampshades are available now (please email us for full pictures) and the relevant website pages will be up in the next week.

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Juliet Fishenden

We are forging ahead with new ideas for more wrought iron products which we will offer you in 2016. In the spring we will be meeting up with our collaboration partners Anthony Dickens, Gareth Neal, Chris Eckersley and William Warren to bring you the best of British design made by British blacksmiths.

Richard is looking forward to the festive holiday and seeing the new Star Wars movie!

Let the Forge be with you

If you have a project you would like us to quote for? We are always happy to help. If you have an idea, email a sketch and we can take a look and let you know if we can make it. Alternatively just call us on 01473 487118 to talk it through.

Juliet Fishenden

Things from nature have something about them that are pleasant to the eye. It’s a part of the natural World that most of us humans can appreciate, especially when it is in the form of furniture. Most of us will have a piece of furniture made of wood or metal or a combination of the two in our houses. They work beautifully together. Richard remembers as a boy being in awe seeing the massive iron handles and hinges on his local Church door. “The huge oak panels and the blacksmithed hinges just seemed to merge together to become one”.

Crafts people have used both for centuries; partly because it was all they had. They made items to cherish, decorate and that were practical for their homes. We have always wanted to combine wood and metal together to make something special and so when Made by the Forge got the chance to work with designer Chris Eckersely and master craftsman Dave Green we were were really excited.
Chris at home with some of his chairs
Chris (above) specialises in chairs and furniture made from wood. We invited Chris to our forge to learn some blacksmithing skills and then Chris went away and came up with plans for a wooden chair with forged ironwork integrated within it.
Sketch of Forge Chair
The back slats that are normally made of wood have been replaced by ironwork. We used a piece of round bar and then heated and forged it flat so that it would be softer to the seated persons back. The stay that joins the legs together was also made of iron. Chris decided to keep the whole piece natural and so we finished the iron parts of the chair in beeswax.
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We took the ironwork parts to Dave Green, who owns the renowned British chair makers Sitting Firm. He had the task of making all the wooden parts and then putting the chair together. He carefully chose English Ash and Elm from the shores of Loch Lomond. Every chair is individual as the grain of the wood will never be the same, the hammer marks are never in the same spot so it is therefore a special and a true piece of traditional craftsmanship. The end result was a stunning piece of furniture.
Forge Chair for blog

If you would more information on this chair then please get in touch by calling us on: +44 (0)1473 487118 or to speak with Richard direct on 07787 542 860 or email us at sales@madebytheforge.co.uk.

Every chair is hand made and hand built by Made by the Forge and Sitting Firm. If you would like to sit on the chair and experience how comfortable it is then please call to arrange a sitting!

Richard Fishenden
Oak Block Finial Display

Made by the Forge has just released a  ‘swanky’ new oak block to display finials. Designed by Chris Eckersely and made by us, it is a great coffee table display which interior designers and curtain makers can use. It is also very practical to carry out to home visits for clients.

Using our 20mm curtain pole as the carry handle, it doubles up by showing a potential purchaser how the finials join the curtain pole and exactly how wide the pole is. The finials are joined using a grub screw which is tightened so the ends don’t fall off and they are all interchangeable.

 

Just brilliantly original.

See the full range of finials on our website

Richard Fishenden
Chris in the Forge

We met Chris Eckersley last year 2013 and were immediately impressed with his credentials. Chris is passionate about design and we are thrilled to be working with him on a number of projects including our lighting range. Chris has journeyed to Suffolk twice now and is close to completing  one of his designs that he has designed and hand forged and which will be revealed at London Design Week this September 2014.

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Chris has been constantly at the top with his designs especially his Tromé Bench. ‘The Trombé bench was shortlisted for the 2002 Homes and Gardens / V&A Classic Design Awards, and at the glittering ceremony at the V&A won two of the three awards, including The Prince’s Medal, presented by Prince Charles.

Chris and Prince Charles

We have taken Chris’s words from his website to give a complete picture of how diverse and interesting he is.

‘Originally I studied Sculpture and then on graduating set up a little design-and-make furniture workshop. After a few years this grew like Topsy and I ended up with nearly a dozen employees. We made one-off pieces, fitted furniture, and large architectural cabinets for a company in New York.
In my spare time I made abstract sculpture.

Later I did an MA in Design Studies at Central Saint Martins, where I became a Visiting Tutor. By this time I’d built up a network of cabinetmakers and small manufacturers for whom I worked as a freelance designer. This freed me up to be able to spend more time developing new art and design work, which I exhibited widely – and still do.

More recently, after temporarily moving to deepest Herefordshire, I went ‘bodging’ (or greenwood chair-making) which led on toBodging Milano and many other craft-based projects and fruitful collaborations with other designers.

I’ve lived in various parts of the country, from Cornwall to North Yorkshire, but home is beloved Birmingham.’

To see more about Chris and view his designs here is a link to his website.

www.chriseckersley.co.uk

 

Richard Fishenden

The Forge Project began in 2013 when Richard and Juliet Fishenden met with Anthony Dickins, William Warren and Gareth Neal in London and decided a collaboration between the product designers, including their pal Chris Eckersley, would be interesting for everyone. Made by the Forge gets lots of design ideas and the designers get hands on experience in the Forge and an insight into the blacksmiths techniques.

William Warren welding.

William Warren welding.

The designers introduction to the forge began in Suffolk where they learnt about what we make and what we do. The boys got a chance to bang a lot of hot metal – changing the shape of a round piece of bar to square and then a square piece of bar to round. This taught them the basic forge techniques and the correct use of the hammer. They moved onto drawing out metal, forging points both square and round, then bumping up metal i.e. redacting its length and then punching holes. The day culminated of the making of a forged hook which included all of the techniques they had learnt. The hook has a punched eye, a thicker piece for strength where the load bearing is and a hand drawn point. It is also turned whilst hot which is also another forging technique.

The next meeting up was planned for March this year.