New worksop, new beginnings

Jan - July 2009

Slowly but surely, bit by bit!

Moving away from Sheffield in January 2009 was an exciting and scary step. I was very aware of leaving behind somewhere which was safe and supportive, surrounded by other makers and their reassurance.

Yorkshire Artspace had been a tremendous stepping stone for me – being there had allowed me to experience fulltime smithing and had provided an outlook onto the ideal professional practice. Having spent three years strengthening my work in a shared workshop in the centre of Sheffield city centre, the idea of moving to an idyllic county environment had become an ever expanding dream. With great efforts from my partner David, we felt determined that this could be achieved.

The old Blacksmith’s workshop at Wighill Park was an incredible find. Not only did the building itself hold beautiful existing visual qualities and features, but its location at Wighill's dairy farm, surrounded by huge open fields and grand old trees could not be more fitting for creative thoughts – and of course for noisy hammer work! With the workshop close behind the house we live in, the winter was spent clearing the dark and dirty workshop of its old tools, cobwebbed cupboards and general farming equipment. Late January saw us painting the first of many coats of white paint while the snow began to pile up outside, slowly and gradually we progressed into many a late evening (myself toastie in my hat, gloves, doubled up trousers, and three pairs of socks in wellies!).

Early spring finally uncovered the large open forge and chimney, a centrepiece to a big, open and light space. Dave began his revisit to woodworking – building my jewellers bench and large ‘general purpose’ bench. Having saved up for a good quality second hand ‘Record’ vice, a gas bottle and some heating equipment, I was thankfully able to start some hammering quite early on from the move. Now into the summer, the workshop is still in the process of change from blacksmiths building to that of a silversmiths. With one end operational for design and making, the other is having its hearth area built up close to the old forge. The workshop doors are fully open now in the daytime sun, drying out the tree trunks which we salvaged back in February. Dave continues to plough on with building worktop spaces bit by bit, and is currently tiling the new sink area (it’s very exciting!).

Evening sunshine here inside the workshop really is wonderful. It’s peaceful, but for the cows munching outside so close to the window! Our vegetable garden compliments the whole area, spreading from here up to the house. Having sewn everything we could think of, it’s all finally coming into full bloom. These are simple pleasures which add so warmly to our changed lifestyle. As I write here tasting my first pea in its pod, I can’t help but contemplate what a lovely place this is to work hard, feel its rewards and to hopefully produce my most beautiful silver objects.

See more of the workshops development here

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