I am a blacksmith and an artist blacksmith. I differentiate between the terms because I feel I wear different hats according to the work I am doing. My bread and butter work is the small scale production of functional items such as fire sets, curtain rails and small domestic items but I also make commissioned sculptural works and exhibition pieces as well as historically accurate reproduction and renovation works.
At the heart of everything that I do is metal. I work mainly in mild steel and to a lesser extent stainless steel (316).I work by hand on the anvil, using a power hammer for large
works. I work mainly in small diameter lengths, 6ml up to 2 inch and sheet steel. I use the gas forge most of the time though I do have a coke forge for fire welding.
It was my father’s influence that encouraged me into smithing. He was originally a sculptor in other materials but found himself increasingly drawn towards metal. The forge was the hub of our home, the smell of hot metal and grind pervaded everything. My father taught me that forging metal is more than just heating and bending. You have to work with the material; it’s like a dance, or a wrestling match. You need timing and accuracy, getting it to the right temperature and striking it in the right spot. It is a hard material that doesn’t give up its shape easily; it needs to be coaxed firmly until it reluctantly agrees to transfigure itself. There is something incredibly magical about watching it become malleable with heat and change under the hammer blows.
I undertook a degree in fine art and trained as a teacher but continued smithing. I was offered a contract as the blacksmith in residence at the Museum of Welsh Life where I worked for several years. I started to develop my own smithing business, Ferric Fusion, after this, alongside working in FE as a resistant materials lecturer before leaving to build the business full time.
I started teaching smithing on weekend courses because I enjoy passing on the skills I have acquired. The monthly blacksmithing courses have become very successful and were short listed for the inaugural UK Craft Skills awards.
Smithing is more than a job, it’s a way of life. When I’m not in the forge I am usually designing or discussing techniques with one of my two brothers who are also blacksmiths. My daughter has just been offered a place on a sculpture course. Perhaps she’ll be the first of a third generation.
Aaron Petersen, Ferric Fusion
To book a place on one of Aaron’s one and two day blacksmithing courses contact via the website www.ferricfusion.co.uk courses cost £130 for one day, £260 for two days.
To see a video of Aaron making one of his rams head pokers which was shot by heritage crafts film specialists Artisan Media http://www.artisanco.com visit you tube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdQSPCtC__Y
If you’re interested in being a Guest Blogger for The Metal Store feel free to get in touch with us, we’d love to showcase your work!