Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Blacksmith and the Bosom

Back in July, I went to a local agricultural show- the New Forest Show- where lovely folk come together to show off their farm animals, produce[cheese, fudge etc] alongside many countryside retailers and charities too. It was here where I saw the blacksmith tent, showcasing some delicate items with a few blacksmiths busy at work making pokers and candlesticks. They are there every year, but this year I became fascinated with what they were doing and fell in love with the candlesticks, hooks and other intricate ornaments that they had on show. I noticed that some of them were from a college course in Dorset and made note to look into them later.Some intense searching and realisation of the costs of these courses, led me to looking for a local artist who runs workshops. And to my delight I found Cara. 

Cara Wassenberg is a sculpture and artist blacksmith who has a studio based just outside of Petersfield, and it was her beautiful nature-inspired sculptures that interested me in her workshops.

Leaf Globe by Cara Wassenberg.

So today, myself and two other lovely ladies headed to her farm-based studio and learnt to bend, mould and twist metal[not the technical terms]. Firstly, we all experimented with steel, making the head of a poker, from which I swiftly moved onto working with a plate copper so I could practice molding some curves.

First bit of blacksmith-ing- the end of my poker [which did not get finished]. I love the little point I made!

When booking the workshop with Cara, she asked in advanced about what I would like to make by the end of it, to which I had not really thought of anything specific; I just wanted to learn some basic techniques as an introduction to the blacksmith craft. I was stumped to be honest, and only in the last few weeks I really came up with anything that I thought I would feel would be fitting to me and my work: the female body.

Copper Breast experiment.

My first experimentation with copper was to become a beautiful breast, made with various techniques, mainly hammering against or on curved tools. I can tell you now that hammering was a lot of work, and took a lot of concentration to make sure that you are molding the shape to how you want it.

The back of the Copper Body and detail of the stomach area.

Although my figure [named Eve] looks a bit bumpy, I completely adore what I have created. Whilst in her studio working, we were surrounded by lots of pieces that she had made, which were so inspiring from simple hanging ducks to her more familiar delicate leaves. We were also surrounded by hammers of all sizes and shapes as well as other useful tools that Cara helped us use to make our final pieces.

Whilst I curved my copper sheet into a female figure, my fellow participants sculptured a gorgeous leaf shaped fruit bowl and a very beautifully twisted poker.The whole day was a buzz, very overwhelming and we all left very pleased with ourselves. I would so love to return to try more if I had time and money, as there is endless experimentation with the creative arts.

Thank you Cara!

Cara Wassenberg 

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