Anvil Metal Art

Anvil Metal Art

Have you ever wondered what sound looks like? I have, and I became intrigued by the idea of representing the sounds and feelings of a workshop in metal art.

When I was recently awarded a scholarship from the Elizabeth Scholarship Trust I was able to attend 5 short courses held at the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London. Two were geometry based, the first was ‘Geometry in the Arts and Crafts of the Islamic Lands’ and the second was ‘Geometry and the Order in Nature’, both taught by Tom Bree.

I became interested in Islamic Art and geometry when I was studying the DFS level 3 advanced blacksmithing course in Hereford and Ludlow College in 2015. The principles are very similar to the Arts and Crafts movement, it’s all about handmade and Traditional craftsmanship. The geometric patterns are mind-blowing and the whole process in making and designing these are far deeper than just drawing, it’s like a form of prayer and meditation.

The design of my final college piece had to change dramatically due to time scales, so it is still a work in progress. I will make a series of Islamic inspired Mandalas. My thought process was to create repetitive geometric forged shapes to make up the mandalas. In this way the repetition would enable me to really improve my craftmanship skills, which is why I went back to college in the first place. I love the blacksmith craft, with all its traditions, but in running a creative metalwork business, it is not always easy finding the clients who will understand and pay for this kind of work (another blog to follow about this). When you look back over all the traditionally made scroll gates, these were all hand forged by highly skilled blacksmiths.

Having worked on commission based projects since I set up BexSimon in 1999, I am desperate to move into creating artwork, having dreams of filling gallery spaces with installations. Having filled so many sketch books with ideas over the years. I keep going back into education to keep this burning desire at the forefront of my mind and developing myself to become an Artsmith. I am a sucker for knowledge and want to make my art relevant.

While researching and learning, I heard a story about Pythagoras. Legend has it, he was walking past a blacksmith’s workshop when he heard the beautiful ringing of the anvil coming out of the forge, so he went inside to investigate. Inside he noticed that the anvils the blacksmiths were working on were proportionally sized and therefore they all rang in harmony. This led him to discover the Fibonacci sequence in music.

I was so inspired by this story and having seen a video on Cymatics, I had an idea.

Cymatics meaning ‘Wave’ translated from Ancient Greek, is when a surface is vibrated, and geometric patterns are formed from these vibrations.

A sound engineer friend of my visited the workshop and recorded all the various sounds of the tools and equipment eg anvil, power hammer, for a track he recorded for a previous public art commission we had been working on (also another blog on that to follow). Having bought a large sub-woofer off eBay we spent a day building our Cymatics machine. We ran the sound of the anvil (with a few adjustments) through the machine and got this geometric shape.

Hereford Anvils were running an exhibition #150mm Challenge, where you have a piece of 20mm Squared 150mm long and you can make whatever you wanted from it. I love a story, so I used this experiment as my research for the piece I was going to make, it would also be a moquette for developing into a bigger art piece.

I forged down the metal length into a cube and punched a hole in the middle, then with a mandrel placed in the hole I fullered in all the faces to end up with a four-fold geometric shape. I sliced this to thin pieces to get my repeating pattern.

This pattern is a visual representation of what the anvil ring looks like.

I am really looking forward to attending the next class at the Princes’s school of traditional arts on Hindu Yantras and Mandala’s taught by Dr Susana Marin. Carrying on my research and personal development.

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