Sunday, 1 February 2015

Debbie Harman

Debbie Harman comes to Doris not only to forge but to play.  Sometimes she doesn't forge at all.  The works below are ceramics that have been formed over steel pieces which have been scrounged from the bin in the first photograph.  Sometimes she will sit in the lunch room drinking tea, telling stories and working with clay.  She will gladly teach newcomers how to build a fire.

More of her work can be seen on her numerous blogs.

More Blacksmith Doris drawings by Dianne Beevers

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Drawings of Dianne Beevers

Within our group, our band of women, we have makers and artists of all kind.  One wonderful woman who is enthusiastic about all forms of art, and has brought that enthusiasm to Blacksmith Doris with all bells jingling is Dianne Beevers.

Dianne works at the forge taking her inspiration from the metal, following it to see where it may take her.

Sometimes, though, Dianne prefers to draw from the bustle of the barn to create images of us and the objects that she sees.

Today I am posting some of her objects and will post more drawings soon.

Dianne Beevers "Forged curls" 2013
Ink, watercolour on paper.

Dianne Beevers. Forged scrap, 2013.
Ink, watercolour on paper.'o

Dianne Beevers Forged curls#2, 2013
Ink, watercolour on paper.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Blacksmith Doris Report

Both Nick Hackett, President of ABA (Vic) and I were asked to speak about our work in the Eesti Kunstiakadeemia ( Estonian Academy of Arts ) Tallinn, Estonia.  We spoke to a class of students at the University there who were studying art, majoring in blacksmithing.  I was also asked to explain Blacksmith Doris.  They had heard from Sarah Johnston, a Doris who is an exchange student in Tallinn, about our group and were surprised that we would have the need for a blacksmithing gathering just for women.

I discussed our reasons stating that in Australia there are hardly any places to study blacksmithing. I explained that women felt awkward trying to learn with a group of men where there are expected ways of doing things, as they feel that they will be judged.  As I spoke I could see on the faces of some of the women students that they understood.

As far as I know Blacksmith Doris is fairly unique.  Australia has only a short  blacksmithing tradition and there is no longer much call for a smithing career, so blacksmithing is more of a lifestyle choice rather than a way of earning a living.  There are women around the world who sell the work that they make when blacksmithing so they are established and organised.  

There is a group of women who are dedicated and regularly come to Doris, as well as new comers.  Blacksmith Doris has become a place where woman can meet with the intention of being at the forge.  There is freedom in knowing how to build a fire that will heat steel well enough to move it with a hammer, and to be able to make things with that steel.  Some Doris’ enjoy learning traditional blacksmithing while others just hit the metal, happy to see where that process will take them.  Those that have knowledge share.  Some come for the company and others to draw.  There are no expectations and no judgement.  There is no obligation to complete a product.

The group would like to thank the committee for allowing us to have one Saturday of every month dedicated to women who wish to blacksmith; and the members for respecting the fact for another year.  We appreciate it.

A new year means a new timetable:

January 3
February 7
March 7
April 4
May 2
June 6
July 4
August 1
September 5
October 3
November 7
December 5

I wish you all the best for the year ahead.

Mary Hackett

January 2015 Doris Day

Hi to all Blacksmith Doris'

I hope that your Christmas was a peaceful one, full of fun, friends and family.
It is a rostered Doris Day on Saturday though I am afraid that the forecast for that day is around 41C. If this is the case then I feel that we have no choice but to cancel. Stay tuned if there is a change of temperature as we can then review the situation.
Best Wishes for the New Year

Doris x

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Home is the Heart of the Fire: How to build a fire in a deep forge

I like using the forge up the back of the ABA Vic barn because I can watch everyone as they work but be out of the way of the main activities.  The two fires there are usually taken by those who come in last as they are deep and therefore difficult to light and forge on.  

I began to clean and build the fire the way that I would any other fire, but noticed that a beginner who had been shown by Corrie how to build a fire in the worst forge had a roaring fire.  I decided to ask Corrie to show me her fire building technique.  It was well worth it.  She put a can upside down in the hole to keep the airway clean and I packed coke dust into the surrounding area.  (Lucky there is an excess of coke dust.)  I then poured water onto the dust until it was saturated and left it to soak in.   When it looked like wet black cement I pulled the can out.    

What happened next was a mistake that is embarrassing to admit and one that I won't forget.  I tried to light the fire in this hole!  Of course it didn't work.  Palm on forehead.  ‘Corrie, what have I done wrong?’  The walls of the hole were the shape of the can - straight up and down.  The fire would not light in that.  Corrie patted down the wall of the hole until the sides had sloped.  I have always dug my fire hole with sloped sides before, what made me think that this one should be any different?  Maybe I thought that this was a fancy way to build a hole for a deep forge, who knows?  

Anyway, I lit the fire again and it worked.  It was a good robust fire, and by four it was still as intense as it had been when I lit it.  I believe that if I had wanted to I could have fire welded just before knock off.  Also, I didn’t have to dig out clinkers.  That forge is now my absolute favourite.

The other thing that Corrie told me about this forge was to pile the coke high on top.  The theory is that the heart of the fire, the hottest part which supposedly is around the centre, will rise if there is a mound over the fire.  This will assure that whatever is put into the forge is heated properly, which can be hard to do in a deep forge.

Mary H