forge Archive

Juliet Fishenden

All of us in the U.K. have lived with wrought iron for most of our lives. It’s found everywhere. Ancient ironwork smashed into pleasing shapes, structures and intricate patterns is still with us, the march of time barely giving it a second glance. Wrought iron hangs up our bread boards, stores our wine, clads our ships and provides France with her most enduring icon.

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The industrial revolution may have turned our heads towards the new mechanical means of production but handmade, handcrafted ironwork still holds an incomparable allure. In fact, in the 21st century, wrought ironwork and its blacksmiths have returned with some vigour as the desire for material permanence has trumped the built in obsolescence of the poorly made product.

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The last commercial wrought ironworks factory closed in 1974 but despite this, the skill of ‘working’ iron (‘wrought’ is an archaic form of ‘worked’) is still with us and the products highly prized and appreciated for their quality. From the beauty of the Farrier’s Cage Six Circle Globe Chandelier to the humble handle, iron still just works.

chandelier-blog

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

The new Made by the Forge brochure has arrived. If you would like one please just send us a note, with the address you would like it sent to, and we will post it to you.

It showcases all our ironwork products and is designed to give you ideas for styling your home.

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If you need any help, just call us on 01473 487118 or email sales@madebytheforge.co.uk. We are always happy to answer any questions; we pride ourselves on an efficient caring service.

Made by the Forge is different because we believe in making high quality ironwork that will last and last. All curtain poles are made to measure, so a perfect fit for your window is guaranteed. Simply key in your measurements online, using our helpful measuring guide, and see the price before placing your order.

It is always comforting to know that a tree is planted for every product sold, the ironwork is hand-crafted in our Suffolk forge and the beeswax, we use to finish the ironwork, is collected straight from a local hive.

Juliet Fishenden

Historically Beeswax has been used for thousands of years and has been found in the tombs of ancient Egypt, wrecked Viking ships and Roman ruins.

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SONY DSC

Beeswax is made by the worker bees by secreting wax from 8 special glands on the underside of their abdomens. The wax cools and solidifies and the bee collects the wax with her legs and manipulates and shapes it into the hexagon cells that make up the honeycomb. The beekeeper collects the honeycomb which then goes through a number of stages, honey extracted, comb heated, cooled and then moulded into the blocks we use.
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It is phenomenal natural miracle to imagine such a tiny animal can make such an amazing product which has a multitude of uses.Honey Bee

It was discovered to be one of the first plastics ever used and traditionally applied to protect wrought iron before modern paint was invented. It was found to have the best coating ability to preserve and protect the iron. It is still the best natural way of finishing iron because it covers the iron effortlessly with a shimmery film leaving the grain beautifully raw and intact.
Cannonball BW-1 Natural sheen – Cannon Ball curtain pole finished with beeswax

Richard Fishenden
Anvil, tools and a finial in the making
The anvil in our forge gets daily use. Sometimes it is used for making shoes and sometimes for curtain pole finials or brackets.
We bought it several years ago from a farmer who acquired it at an auction. It originally sat in the blacksmiths shop at Shrubland Hall in Suffolk which was built in 1770. The anvil was sold off at an auction along with an old forge which we also bought.
We don’t use the forge as it has hand operated bellows which is very labour intensive to keep the fire in. Years ago they use to employ a boy or young lad to pump the bellows but I would probably be prosecuted if I tried that!
Nowadays we use gas forges for a more consistent and quicker heat but It seemed to be nice to keep the forge and anvil together which is why we bought both; after all they have probably worked together for several hundred years so who am I to split them up?
I wonder how many people have used my anvil over the years; Blacksmiths repairing estate tools, shoeing the land horses or making park fencing. It would have all been made on the estate.
It must have been a fair sight. If only my anvil could talk…

Richard Fishenden

I thought it would be an idea to explain the difference in finishes between a beeswax finish and matt black paint.

Beeswax is a natural wax that is applied to the metal as soon as it is forged, while it is still hot. Once cool, it gives the metal a protective coating yet has no colour. The result is a piece of ironwork with a ‘sheen’. It allows the natural colour and grain of the metal to stand out.

Great for the purists who want their metal to look as natural as possible.

It does have a slightly tacky feel when it is new. It will wear away in places after a while allowing possible moisture to oxidize the metal. Some people like this as the metal will age and change colour over time.

Matt black is an all over paint. It is a consistent finish that will wear better than the beeswax and not change in colour over time. It can be wiped clean and made to look new again with some graphite paste. It is more suited in a damp area.

You will loose some of the natural beauty of the steel with matt black but it does have its own appeal and looks great in almost any area.

The photo above is of a piece of iron I finished in beeswax(bottom) and matt black(top). See which one you like best!

Richard Fishenden
Swallow

I have very lucky to have a lovely pair of swallows nesting in my forge this year. They were busy as bees feeding their young. Swooping around above my head it was a pleasure to have the company while I was busy myself making utensil racks for some clients.

The pair raised 3 broods and the last of them were very late to leave. Mum and Dad had flown away in the first week of October. I took this picture in the second week of October and it was another week before they had gone. I hope they make it!

It is inspirational to me when such a small bird can travel so far. If you are determined to succeed then anything is possible.