I am a bladesmith based in Welling on the SE London/Kent border, where, for 25 years I have been blacksmithing and making swords and knives, as well as running my school of bladesmithing Bushfire forge.
I make historically inspired Viking and Saxon patternwelded swords, seaxes, knives and axes. And have documented and measured many original pieces in museums all over the world. As well as strictly historical work I enjoy making pieces that are inspired by myth and legend from Beowulf to Tolkien! And I must admit that in the world of my imagination the lines are blurred between history and fiction.
I love to make kitchen knives, modern functional pieces that are made to be used every day. They combine two of my passions food and knives! These are a great canvas for me to explore my patternwelding on and I make many one off and new patterns on these knives.
A constant theme in my work over the last 25 years has been the exploration of making patternwelded steel or damascus. I still find the process as exciting now as I did the first time I forge welded different steels together. With inspiration from history that tan be seen all over the world there is a limitless potential for developing different patterns in the steel. There is nothing like knowing you are the first person in one or two thousand years to make a pattern…..or that you are possibly the first person ever to do so…….
Over the years bladesmithing has given me an opportunity to explore many of the more esoteric aspects of the craft and I have made my own wootz, turned iron into steel and even made steel from poo (for TV’s Bang goes the Theory!)I have done quite a bit of smelting my own iron and steel from iron ore (some 50+ smelts to date). Even hunting out and digging my own local siderite ore. There is nothing like the feeling of making a knife from steel you have smelted from iron ore you have dug up from the ground yourself!
I love the transformational qualities of steel, it is such an amazing material and can be made to be comparatively soft with heating or hard with quenching or flexible with tempering.
My motto is :
Forging Soul into Steel
I have been lucky over the years to be involved in a lot of TV programs (some 28 or so of them to date) I have made axes, seaxes, swords and patternwelding steel in front of the camera, programmes such as the History channel, Nat Geo , Discovery and the BBC. It has been a great opportunity for me to try and show my craft at its best and introduce people to the art of forging hot steel.
In 2008 I opened my School of Bladesmithing “Bushfire Forge” where I teach one day, 3 day and 5 day classes on bladesmithing, swordmaking, damascus steel making, smelting and kitchen knife making. I teach most of the classes myself but have also been lucky to have some other amazing smiths teach classes and master classes. I am passionate about making knives and forging hot steel and I try and pass this passion on to my students.
My school has forges for up to 10 students at a time. Power hammers, hydraulic presses, comprehensive heat treating furnaces and more than 10 grinding stations.
All in all I feel very lucky to have found a craft I love and am good at. It has kept me interested for the past 25 years , introduced me to history and fine craftsmanship and brought me many friends and given me a path to follow.
I recently read this quote (anonymous) and it rang true for me:
“If a crafts man can take pleasure in the tools of his labor then he is truly blessed”
That’s the way I feel about bladesmithing, I love the work and it must be said I love the tools!