The ideal Christmas present, an experience day

beekeeping experience dayIf you are looking for the ideal Christmas present, an experience day might be just what you are looking for.

I have held a few experience days over recent weeks and wanted to share a few pictures.

Whether you are interested in finding out more about beekeeping or blacksmithing, I can tailor make a day for you.

In a day designed around what you want to achieve and learn, a beekeeping experience day will involve opening up hives and gaining an understanding of how the hive lives and thrives.



“Thank you for such an amazing day!”

Meanwhile, on a blacksmithing day, I first work with you before the day to understand what you would like to make.

I then work on your idea to make it something you can make, with a little help from me when needed.

On the day itself you will learn forge techniques and make something to take away and treasure.

Please contact me if you have any questions about my experience days, or if I can help in any way.





Cold food smoking

cold-smoked-fishFrom time to time I have tweeted pictures of my cold food smoking equipment. The last time I put up a picture of smoking trout, I had loads (OK one) request to put up some more detailed pictures and explain more. So, here we go.

I have made a cold smoking set up, rather than hot smoking. This means that the ‘fire’ is away from the food being smoked, providing cold smoke, rather than smoldering in the same container and part cooking the food. My set up was inspired by Dick Strawbridge and his ‘smoking’ book.







The above pictures show my set up. I started with a soot vacuum container from Aldi. I made 2 shelves to fit inside for the food and a separate burner, similar to that used in beekeeping.

food-smoking-coldcold-smokingHardwood shavings are added, and lit, to produce the smoke.

A pipe then feeds the smoke into the container, where the food awaits.

I have found that about 1 hour of smoking gives a delicate flavour. More and it becomes bitter and over smoked.



So far we have smoked fish, cheese and eggs.

All are delicious and I would thoroughly recommend giving it a try.

Blacksmith project: Nunti Bo

nunti-boI recently had a very interesting request to make a traditional Nunti Bo, used in Okinawan kobudō, a traditional form of martial arts.

Prior to the call I knew nothing of these of martial arts, or the traditional weapons used in modern exhibitions and practice.

Appreciating the importance of physical balance, alongside the desire for a traditional blacksmith construction process for the Nunti Bo, and with guidance from Gary and Marc, I finished my research and was ready to go.

The first thing I had to make was the Bo. For this I found a supplier of traditional Japanese red oak. At 6ft long and 30mm diameter, I had my first element ready.

For the Sai (the metalwork), I was on more familiar ground.

However, since no-one else seems to make Nunti Bo, all I had to work on was a photograph.

This required a bit more work to scale up from some overall sizes and I was then ready to fire up the forge and start hitting hot metal.

The pictures below show the forging process and the different stages of producing the Sai component to the Nunti Bo.













The final finishing of the Nunti Bo was to polish the metal and woodwork with beeswax polish. This ensures that the metalwork keeps its natural forged finish.

All in all this was a very interesting project, especially because it was so closely aligned with my interests in keeping traditional crafts and practices alive.

I really enjoyed the challenge of a small step into unknown territory, working to such a precise brief to make a historically correct item.