Archive for August, 2010

Saturday, August 14th, 2010

Ever wondered how a blacksmith trained in the olden days? I’m sure you have.  But for those whose curiosity doesn’t range even that far, the story is this  First, you got taken on by a blacksmith to do the menial jobs around the forge, graduating slowly to  metal bashing of the simple kind, knocking out items like metal spikes and garden implements. And then, when you had gained some degree of proficiency, you became a journeyman, moving around the country working for various blacksmiths who specialised in different things, from building materials to ornate gates or even works of art. And you picked up the various techniques until you felt able to set up on your own and deal with most things that might be asked of you.

That’s what James Spedding did. It all started when he was kid and played in the woods a lot. It was then, over camp fires, that he started bashing metal and decided that that smithing was for him. Initially, he worked in IT but when redundancy offered breathing space, he and his wife sold their house and he latched onto a blacksmith who was keen to encourage new talent. James worked for him for a year or more, learing the basics. Then, husband and wife went on the road for a couple of years, living in a camper van around the UK and Ireland, with James working for various blacksmiths, picking up their particular skills. until he settled in north Norfolk, initially at a forge in Burnham Deedale.  But things went well and he outgrew that space, moving along the coast then to a bigger forge at Holkham Hall. That’s where he is now. Read all about him in my article in the August edition of The Countryman. 

Meanwhile, if you’ve imagined story telling combining with the most exquisite ceramic work – and again, I’m sure you have – you might want to look at my piece in Craft & Design on Paul Jackson. Those ceramics are so delicate that they’re  frightening, though his stories less so. 

And then, again for the artistically inclined, there is the Norwich Print Fair, taking place in St Margaret’s church, St Benedict’s Street, Norwich  from the 6th to the 19th September. Read all about that and its history in the September issue of  Suffolk/Norfolk Life.