Last week we held two sessions of one of our most ambitious member events to date – a hands-on visit to the Kingdom Forge Blacksmith in Brundish, near Woodbridge.
Kingdom Forge is a blacksmithing and engineering workshop run by two young and dedicated blacksmiths, Paul Stoddart and Elliot Harrison, who founded the forge in 2013 after training at the National School of Blacksmithing in Herefordshire. I had the pleasure of hosting one of the sessions on a sunny Saturday afternoon, with my colleague Stella hosting the midweek session.
The session began with introductions and a talk from Paul whilst he created a Roman style pocket-knife. Paul created the knife while telling us about the history of blacksmithing and Kingdom Forge. Paul told us about how he and Elliot met when they were training in their art at the School of Blacksmithing. After achieving their qualifications the pair decided to make the move to Suffolk, Paul’s own home county, and open Kingdom Forge. Following on from Paul’s talk, Elliot demonstrated how the group would forge a metal leaf to take home, showing in detail the techniques and methods involved.
Once the briefing and health and safety prep was out of the way, the group was finally let loose on the forge. (Well, not literally!) Four members at a time started work, beginning with a 10mm by 10mm rod which they heated until it was white-hot and ready for shaping. After continuous heating and striking with large single-handed hammers, the group then cooled and waxed their new leaf keychains ready to take home.
I circled round chatting to members as they worked, observing the smithing process first-hand. In fact, it was striking (no pun intended) to see how much blacksmithing requires careful, delicate work as much as brute force! I received only positive feedback and excitement for the event, with many of our members delighted to have such a great opportunity. One even commented to me of their surprise that such an event is still allowed in today’s health and safety obsessed world! Members were so taken with the session that a few made bookings to attend courses held at Kingdom Forge.
After a final comparison of leaves, teas and coffees were finished and members began to head home, having learned something new and certainly something different to talk about.