Metal has been hot in the Petefire Artist Blacksmith forge during the Covid crisis.
I numerous people doing Forging Experiences during 2020 – they were done outdoors with plenty of social distancing.
Some were for one person, there was also a husband and wife, and a father with three school age daughters. He did one forging day with his daughters, and the next Saturday it was just him. He was a plumber and heating engineer and was used to physical work, so wanted a day with just me and him.
Peter has been making tools since he was in his teens.
Here are a set of hand forged tools used to carve a bird bath from the stump of a spruce tree in Bushey, Hertfordshire.
All of the metal in the tools was reclaimed and repurposed. The wood was almost all from very local sources including Abbots Langley’s Tanners Wood, the orchard at Peter’s previous forge in Bushey and the now closed, long established Bushey wood merchant, so the carbon footprint was negligible. Peter collected and cured most of the wood, with some of it being worked in its ‘green’ state – used soon after the tree had been pollarded or chopped down.
The wood included: oak, ash, apple, cherry, pear and purple heart.
Here are all the Petefire Artist Blacksmith hand forged and wood carved tools.
The copper top is the bird bath, formed from the bottom of a household boiler, and attached with screws.
Hand forged large axe
Forged by Petefire, handle made from ash, bought from generations-old Bushey wood merchants – now unfortunately closed.
Hand forged scoop chisel
Forged by Petefire, apple wood handle, from the previous Petefire forge in Bushey
Forged by Petefire, from a metalwork file, handle is ash wood
Small hand axe
Forged by Petefire, handle ash wood Bushey forge
Small wide faced hammer
Forged by Petefire, handle is ash, Bushey. Head of hammer made from a jack hammer
Hand forged 12mm scoop chisel
Spring steel, oak from Abbots Langley, Tanners Wood
Light weight bill hook
Ash wood handle, blade: truck / large coil spring
Handle is local cherry wood, head from a large piston
Mild steel hammer head
Abbots Langley pear wood handle
Angle faced chisel
Pear wood, spring steel
Small carving knife
Purple heart wood, blade spring steel
Heavy full metal offset knife
Forged from a digger piston
Name Peerie Dinger
Digger pistol, head, locally sourced ash wood
Made from a ball pein hammer, hickory wood handle
Who would have thought so many tools went into the carving of Bruce the Spruce the spiral bird bath?
It was a great project to work on, and a good test of the Petefire hand forged tools.
If you’re looking for a unique tool, or a regular tool, you’re very welcome to get in contact. Peter is happy to meet up and discuss how to make tools for clients, whatever you need.
Testing your strength, skill, dexterity and discipline against some hot metal might show a whole new side to your wife, husband, sibling, mother, father, daughter, son or good friend.
Peter will discuss what you’d like to do on a Blacksmith Forging Experience – he’ll be happy to put a bit more challenge into the day and will keep an eye on how participants are coping with all the aspects of the day.
We’ve had all kinds of two, three or four person forging experiences, here are some of our people combinations:
mothers and school age sons
husbands and wives
dads and sons (youngest son was aged 7, we have lots of teens and adult sons)
dads and son-in-laws
daughters and dads
bridegrooms and best men
mum, dad, daughter & son
dads, sons & son-in-laws
Just some of the hammers available for use on a Petefire Blacksmith Forging Experience
School age sons and a mum
On a recent forging experience a mother came along with a 13 year old and 9 year old son. They were surprising fast and coordinated with sequential hammering, where two or more people hammer a piece of hot metal, standing in a circle around the anvil. It’s a very efficient way of getting the most out of a ‘heat’. Each second that the metal is out of the forge sees it cooling and becoming less able to be shaped.
A daughter booked a forging experience for herself and her dad. The daughter knew her dad would love it as he was a massive fan of Forged in Fire, the American tv series, he’d spent his working life as an engineer.
Book a Forging Experience just to watch, learn and talk.
Since an early age Peter has been absorbing all aspects of weapon making, sword, axe, bow and arrow history.
If discussing all aspects of metalworking while watching a knife (which you’d take home with you), being formed using heat, skill and strength sounds like a pretty good way to spend a few hours, book a voucher – or put in a gift request with your family to book a Petefire Blacksmith Forging Experience.
You can book to see the hot metal action and discuss metalworking.
Enjoyable – whatever age you are
An older couple booked a two day forging experience – with the intention of forging house numbers and a small knife. They spent a bit of the first day using the hammers, although the woman realised that swinging the hammers was hard for her to manage.
After discussion with Peter they chose to spend the rest of their forging experience watching the process and discussing and directing the development of the their house numbers and knife.
Although they only spent some of their time doing the physical activity, the couple still had a very enjoyable time and went away with much more knowledgeable about metalworking, its history and the blacksmithing process.
Dad and son forge something different
A woman phone with a specific request for a forging experience. They’d bought a wooden trellis for their garden, but had cut it in half at the top to make it wide enough to fit in with their plans for the garden layout.
Her question was – could she book a forging experience for her husband to metalwork two horizontal bars, strong enough to hold the two sides of their trellis in position.
Peter was very happy to tailor the forging experience to be able to make the trellis bar, and made sure that there was metal that would do the job beforehand.
The dad had been an engineer and really enjoyed being a hands-on part of a different and ancient kind of engineering for a day – they also finished in time to get back for the start of the football!
Buy a voucher for one or more than one – it’ll be good either way
You can have a great one person forging experience, and all our people who come of their own have really enjoyed the day. People who come with one, two or more people also have an excellent time, as Peter will discuss all aspects of historic and modern blacksmithing and metalworking.
If you want to buy a voucher for more than one person, we’re pretty certain that everyone will have a really good day, with some excellent comradeship and maybe a bit of competition too.
My connections are with Watford – that’s where I spent my first years until I was 13, we then moved to Abbots Langley. Until spring 2020 my forge was in Bushey, Herts. The new forge is in Chiswell Green – on the outskirts of St Albans, so I’ll be getting to know St Albans a bit more.
We keen to develop local links
We’re keen to make connections with the local community, and want to be identified as a Chiswell Green business. We’ll also be visiting local businesses over the next for weeks to introduce the forge.
Over time we would like Chiswell Green people to become proud that there’s a blacksmith forge in their area.
My work comes from Watford, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans and the surrounding towns and villages.
In the wider area, it also comes from south west Herts, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and north London.
I’m happy to work for people and businesses from anywhere.
I’m proud to now be a St Albans blacksmith! I’m not forgetting Watford & Hemel Hempstead.
It’s always a good idea to check what’s on your website – we’ve given our Forging Experience questions page a refresh. This is in response to the questions that are regularly asked. We’re also very happy for people to contact us on email, by phone and on social media.
Have you got a question that you think we should add to our page? We’d love to hear from you, you can also contact us with questions.
Have you been looking for a forging experience for a family member, who’s a bit obsessed with Forged in Fire?
If your family member is a Forged in Fire UK fan, the Petefire Blacksmith Forging Experiences could make a great gift for a family member. They happen in Abbots Langley, next to the Harry Potter Studio, where the films were shot and the Harry Potter experiences happen.
Hi everyone! My name is Danbee Kim, and I’m a neuroscientist and teacher.
I recently collaborated with Petefire Artist Blacksmith to explore the neuroscience of touch and proprioception as used by artists and crafters, such as blacksmiths, circus performers, and architectural model makers in an event called Dear Neuroscience.
Danbee Kim, neuroscientist and teacher.
I also recently wrote The First VIRS, a science fiction graphic novel that combines current topics in science and technology with a speculation on how the next 100 years might play out. I’ve been a lifelong fan and reader of comics myself, and now I’m hoping to use comics to make science and technology more fun and accessible to everyone, especially for audiences that are currently underserved by traditional forms of science communication.
If you are also a fan of comics, or interested in connecting science and technology with arts and crafts, please consider making a donation when we launch our Kickstarter campaign on Tuesday, September 24! Your contribution will help us pay our amazing artists and produce nicely-bound, colour-printed physical copies of the graphic novel.
I hope that together, we can take another step towards making scientific research more open and accessible to everyone. Thanks so much for reading!
Smoke, sparks and flames filled the November night air as Watford’s elected Mayor, Peter Taylor lit the 100th Anniversary Armistice Day fire beacon at the south end of Watford Museum’s front garden.
The Watford Armistice Day beacon lighting was one of over 1,000 lit throughout the UK at 7pm on Sunday 11th November to commemorate the end of the darkness of the First World War and a return to peace.
Petefire Artist Blacksmith was commissioned to forge Watford’s Armistice beacon by Watford Borough Council. Sarah Kerenza Priestly, curator of Watford Museum said, ‘Watford Museum is proud to support local artists and businesses.’
Peter helped on the evening by filling the Armistice Day beacon with wood, and a couple of strategically placed firelighters with a generous layer of wood shavings near the bottom, Petefire also loaned a decorative forged lighting stick, with paraffin-soaked Kevlar.
Watford’s fire station is just across the road on Watford’s Lower High Street and very kindly loaned a long ladder to assist with lighting the beacon – they commented that their job was to put fires out – not to help light them!
Peter Williamson said, ‘We are very proud to have been commissioned to design and make the fire beacon.’
The beacon will be stored along with it’s wooden pole for future commemorative events in Watford.
Two Peters – Peter Williamson with Watford’s Elected Mayor Peter Taylor
Recently I was asked to make an adze for a man who wanted to do lots of bowl carving
He’d looked on the internet and tried to find different adzes, he found options but the were waiting lists and complications, then he looked a little bit more locally and he stumbled across our website and decided that he would contact me to see whether or not I’d be able to make him an adze.
We’ve enjoyed being part of Herts Open Studios (we’re in the South West Herts area) for the first time. We’re hoping all our artist colleagues have a successful last weekend. We’ve had quite a few visitors and a good deal of interest in our blacksmith forged work. We are really grateful for the enthusiasm that’s been shown by the Hertfordshire artistic community for our blacksmith forged work. We’ve been reliably informed that Herts Open Studios hasn’t had a blacksmith in it’s ranks for quite a few years.
Abbots Langley artists
Our map shows the route for travelling between Abbots Langley artists – Henderson HUB on Abbots Langley’s High Street and Petefire Artist Blacksmith. This will be the last weekend of our exhibition, we’ll be open on Friday 28 – Sunday 30 Sept, 10.30am – 5.30pm.
Look forward to seeing you if you’re free to come along – the six artists at the Henderson HUB are also worth a visit, there’s also Elvira’s Foyer cafe if you fancy cake and coffee too.
Various blacksmith forged art along with art development drawings
We’re going to be part of Hertfordshire’s annual celebration of art – Herts Open Studios for the first time this year. We’ll be joining almost 70 other artists to showing our art during September.
For Petefire this means showing some of Peter’s decorative swords and axes, kitchen knives and hammers. We’ll also have sketches showing the development of many of Peter’s designs.
Bottle openers, cheese knives and heart pendants are some of the small forged items that will be offer for sale. People will also be happy to discuss commissions, if you’ve got ideas for large or small items.
Looking for a gift?
There will be blacksmith forged pendant, cheese knives, kitchen knives and bottle openers available to buy. Prices start from £10, we’ve got a credit card reader if you’ve not got cash.
Peter won’t just be showing his work, he’ll also be forging on Saturdays between 2-4pm. That’s Saturday 8th, 15th 22nd and 29th.
Flapjacks, cakes, coffee and tea aren’t guaranteed – but we’ll be baking regular batches of homebakes. We’ll be collecting donations for the Watford homeless charity New Hope.
Today I did a forging experience day with a lovely bloke called Paul.
He hadn’t actually decided on what he would be working on so I showed him the usual kind of cheese knife that we’d often make on a blacksmith forging experience day. I asked him how hands on he would like to be, his reply: ‘well I’d really like to get involved as much as possible’. So I said, ‘Why don’t we have a look at some of these other pieces of steel that we have here and we could actually work on something a bit larger than we normally do.’
He was very good and he achieved a lot, keeping up with turning the handle (which is the bellows and inducts air / oxygen regulating the heat of the forge). He was also active with the hammer and showed good dexterity. We actually managed to make a knife about 3 times the size of the smaller knives that we normally make – and in the same amount of time. It was very impressive, we often have a discussion about what we’re going to make on an experience day, this time we got straight into this so we didn’t actually work on any other bit of steel other that one for this project.
Lining up for a second experience day
It was very successful so now he’s been asking about what other type of projects we could do.
Projects around the house could include:
toilet roll holder
kitchen roll holder
I realise that not everyone will want to make a knife.
The knife making is very good as there’s a lot of different processing in it:
you’ve got the heat treatment
and the actual bringing everything together
I use recycled steel for the knives, it would be easy to forge other items too.
A very positive day – all in all and hopefully I’ll be seeing Paul again, where we’ll work on the next stage of blacksmith forging experience day. So here’s hoping and we’ll see that when it comes.