The soldering and brazing session with Katrina was to craft a napkin ring from a piece of sheet copper. This involved heating the metal with a blowtorch to make it malleable and bending it by hand, then silver soldering it using a blowtorch. There was an opportunity to add applied decoration to the napkin rings and to experience the different behaviours of melted metals using copper wire and to try using a higher oxygen flame to sculpturally braze pieces of iron together.
The attendees all enjoyed the day, gaining insights into impressive metalworking skills that take many years to master. They also had opportunities throughout the day to get to know everyone in attendance and to share their own experience and knowledge.
Compiled from write-ups submitted by Matt Hancock, Ruth Murgatroyd, Eric Nordgren, Laurie Price and Katie Snow
Metalworking Workshop – Saturday 19th March 2016
Following consultation with the section membership, it was evident to the committee there was a demand for more practical workshops. As a result, it was decided to trial a workshop on metalworking techniques. The day was hosted by Alex Coode and Simon Doyle at the Heritage Blacksmiths’ Forge in Stroud along with Katrina Redman of Hall Conservation. The attendees came from across the UK to take part, with all levels of experience and skills from conservation student to professional conservator.
The day began with a chance to meet and chat to fellow attendees over tea and coffee, and a short health and safety briefing. Attendees were then split into three groups with one group trying their hand at blacksmithing under the tutelage of Alex, one group at repoussé with Simon and one group soldering and brazing with Katrina. Each session was two hours long, allowing time in the day for attendees to try their hand at everything.
During the blacksmithing session, Alex demonstrated how to turn a rod of steel into an intricately decorated fire poker. In a short space of time, attendees learned about forges, heating, basic hammer blows and shaping mild steel rod. It was a great demonstration of how easily metal can be worked when at the right temperature and how difficult it can be when it’s not. Bending and twisting at controlled points, using selective quenching after heating, was another fascinating technique.
The repoussé session, taught by Simon, was a great opportunity to get a feel for the way cold iron reacts to working, takes a shape through hammering and gradually work hardens, until it requires annealing. The careful use of hammers, punches, and anvil stakes allowed some truly amazing shapes to emerge, enabling the attendees to transform flat steel into three dimensional, decorative leaves.