Eggar’s Students Fired Up

Sponsored by the Lions Club of Alton, Brooke Urry and Rhyan Highfield, two of Eggar’s School students are fired up about the future following a Blacksmith taster course at The Little Duck Forge in Portsmouth, led by artist and blacksmith, Lucille Scott. The students, accompanied on their journey to the forge by Chair of Governors, Lisa Hillan, and School Community Liaison Officer, Sarah McKenzie.

Lisa Hillan said that ‘The goal of the taster course was to give Brooke and Rhyan a chance to see if blacksmithing is a career they wish to pursue. Both students have been considering blacksmithing apprenticeships, but had never had the opportunity to try their hand at this historic trade.’

Lucille Scott, a qualified Design Technology teacher, is Blacksmith in Residence one day each week at Bedales School in Petersfield. She also displays and sells her creations, for home and garden, at art shows and music festivals.

Within thirty minutes of arriving at The Little Duck Forge, Brooke and Rhyan began crafting a beam hook, which they completed by late morning. “The hook is an excellent first project because it involves a pointed end, a square end shaped into a curl, a 90-degree angle, and decorative twists” said Lucille. She humorously explained that ‘design technology should include “compliant”, not “resistant materials” because iron becomes extremely pliable when heated in the forge.’

The science of iron working was immediately evident as Lucille explained the chemical reactions of iron, oxygen and water, along with the physics of water quenching’s negative effect on cold bends in the iron.

Next, the students began original projects. Lucille assisted and guided the students as they forged their own creations. Brooke created an ornamental heart and a candle holder.  Lucille commended the organic flow of Brooke’s heart.

Rhyan’s logo design involved a circle, which proved deceptively difficult, but satisfying once finished. Lucille praised the high standard of Rhyan’s finished product. His welding experience came in handy, developed through an enhanced curriculum programme through Eggar’s School and offered at Sparsholt.

Demand for qualified blacksmiths remains steady, Lucille explained over the course of the day, and blacksmithing apprenticeships offer career opportunities for young people. A farrier is different to a blacksmith, and the demand for skilled farriers, who shoe horses, is very high indeed. Interestingly, over 90% of blacksmiths are dyslexic, Lucille stated, but they build successful businesses as talented artists.

Commenting on the experience, Rhyan said: “I’ve so got to do this again.” When asked what was his favourite part of the day, said: “It was all the best bit.This is the best day I’ve had in a while.”

Brooke said she particularly enjoyed the chance to be “hands on—working independently,” adding: “Lucille knew how to talk to us. This was an amazing day – I felt at home”.

Rhyan was so inspired by the experience that he has started building his own forge, modelled on Lucille’s travel forge, which she assembles herself and takes to shows and demonstrations.

On Monday, October 17, Alton Lions President, Mike Gwynne and wife, Janet, met with Brooke and Rhyan, who described the blacksmithing course and showed some of their creations. Both students enthusiastically described their experience and expressed appreciation of the Lions Club’s generosity. After trying their hand at it for a day, both said they plan to pursue blacksmithing as a career. Brooke hopes to pursue a blacksmithing apprenticeship at Chichester College while Rhyan is considering training opportunities in Hereford and in the US.

* Information about Lucille Scott’s Blacksmith for a Day courses can be found at www.louisconsulting.co.uk/littleduckforge or Iron Maid at Little Duck Forge (Facebook). To learn more about the Alton Lions, go to www.altonlions.org.uk