I am an Essex based WI approved speaker and give talks and demonstrations on an eclectic mix of subjects.
Following on from stage 1 of my poppy sculpture project, the second stage of making the poppy sculpture was making the most important part, the poppy flowers.
I started by taking lots and lots of photographs through the summer months. The first thing that became very obvious was the amazing range of poppies to chose from. In the end I took a slightly artistic view of the classic 4 petal red poppy.
I then decided to show the flowers in 3 key stages, the developing bud, the fully open flower and finally the classic seed head.
Dealing with these in order, we of course start with the bud. This was made by first welding a piece of bar onto a smaller bar, the bud and the stem.
Next I forged the shape of the bud, including a fold in the side to represent the unwrapping bud.
Finally the stem was hammered and rounded to make it look less like a piece of bent rod. 3 of these were needed, at differing heights, for the final sculpture.
That was about it, first stage of the flowers complete
I have been delaying revisiting my blacksmith poppies and the ‘how I made them’ bit. But here goes.
First of all a reminder on the left of how it all finished up.
The rock was made from a piece we obtained from our favourite farm in Northumberland.
That was the easy bit, simply drilling some holes ready for the metal stems. Except it wasn’t that easy, think flower arranging with very heavy flowers and you get the idea.
On to the first element, the leaves.
First stage was to cut them out of 1.5mm sheet steel using my nice new plasma cutter.
As ever, the right tool for the job made it very easy to do, but without it, it would have been impossible.
The next stage was to form the sheet into leaf shapes. This required the forge and a heavy gauge V block.
A great deal of hammering and bending later and the sheet metal was looking much
more 3 dimensional and leaf like.
Repeated another 6 times and I had the 7 leaves I needed.
As with gardening, even numbers just doesn’t look right. There is probably a mathematical rule for it somewhere, but simply put, 7, not 6 and not 8, leaves were now ready for the next stage.
Come back soon for stage 2.
The cold of winter, and general lack of food for our feathered friends, makes it a great time to put up a blacksmith bird feeder.
I have made 2 on a similar theme, basically because a lady asked me to make one against a sketch and then my wife liked it so much she wanted one too.
They are free standing, with a spike to push into the ground, 7 foot tall and made from 19mm steel. This makes them very substantial, able to stand up to the biggest birds and strongest winds, and to my general style of nothing thin and flimsy.
They were left in untreated steel finish, so will rust and age gracefully.
I just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Continuing our love of making use of treasured things rather than buying new, this is a knitted wreath made by my Grandmother over 20 years ago. It comes out every year and has pride of place in our home.
If you are looking for the ideal Christmas present for that difficult to buy for person, blacksmith or beekeeping experience days might be just what you are looking for. I can supply you with a pdf gift card to print and give to the lucky person, with the date for the ‘day’ to be set later.
Full details of my experience days this year can be found on this link.
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.
Meanwhile, on a blacksmithing experience day, I first work with you before the day to understand what you would like to make on my outdoor forge.
I then work on your idea to make it something you can make, with a little help from me when needed. Alternatively, you can make a hanging basket bracket incorporating a number of blacksmithing techniques, to learn more about the art.
On the day itself you will learn key forge techniques and make something to take away and treasure.
“Thank you for such an amazing day!”
“We both had a great day and my wife is very impressed that we managed to produce such beautiful work – all of which was thanks to your excellent coaching. You made great use of our time and I’m still amazed that we managed to do quite so much in a few short hours.” – Patrick
“Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and patience with us.” – Karen and Graham
“Wow what an amazing candle holder Dan made..I was gobsmacked….I absolutely loved it…thank you, Dan had an amazing time and hasn’t stopped talking about it….” – Leonie
“Thanks so much for making Henry’s day so enjoyable yesterday. He had a truly fabulous time and loved every minute of it. I am amazed and delighted at the sculpture he made in the time he had – his DT teacher was equally impressed. I think we have started something here! If you ever hear of any trainee opportunities, please let us know. He was still smiling at 3.30am when I woke him to go on his school trip to France.” – Rachel
Visit my students page to see some of the items they made.