Masters of Metal: Peat Oberon
Published on 18.05.16
Peat Oberon is an Artist Blacksmith who runs a workshop from the grounds of Preston Hall Museum near Stockton-on-Tees in the north-east of England. Now in his late seventies, he has been a full time Blacksmith since 1980 and has a national and international reputation for producing high quality, architectural, sculptural and decorative ironwork. Alongside
Peat Oberon is an Artist Blacksmith who runs a workshop from the grounds of Preston Hall Museum near Stockton-on-Tees in the north-east of England. Now in his late seventies, he has been a full time Blacksmith since 1980 and has a national and international reputation for producing high quality, architectural, sculptural and decorative ironwork. Alongside making work to commission he runs a series of short courses and over the years many of our students recall their first experience of working with hot metal at one of his short courses, so we were delighted when he agreed to come and work with us on a two-day Master Class.
We agreed in advance that forging flowers would be a good addition to our students’ repertoire, so Peat came with laser-cut blanks of the flower heads for each student and beautifully rendered drawings of each stage of the making process.
The first morning began with Peat demonstrating; it was truly inspirational and moving to see someone using every angle of the anvil so effectively. He also had tooling for every single stage of the process and he calmly and articulately (like a well-trained tutor) guided us all through each stage.
And then, everyone had an opportunity to forge their own flower, whilst he toured the bays giving everyone tips and tricks on how to effectively use tools and different hammers for different jobs. It was a great learning environment and a joy to for everyone to meet someone so experienced.
During day two, as the flowers drew to completion, there was lots of banter about whether the finished flowers were going to be given to mums or girlfriends. At the end we gathered everyone together and Peat judged the three most accurately forged flowers. So, congratulations to Douglas Hill, Louise Haworth and Joshua Madeley-Pollard.
As part of his visit, Peat also gave a presentation about his practice and showed lots of great images of his workshop and work that he has completed for commission. In particular, he talked us through his recent silver gates commission in Darlington for which, just two days before his visit, he was awarded the Tonypandy Cup which is the highest accolade bestowed annually for an outstanding example of the skill of a Blacksmith or Blacksmiths by the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths. It was great hearing about the gates and in particular Peat was very generous and rather than standing in the limelight he told us all the things that hadn’t worked, all the problems that he had had with particular components.
It was a great two days and I don’t think there was a student who didn’t wish Peat was their Grandad by the end of it! Not everybody wants to make flowers, but everyone could appreciate seeing his skill and craft and everybody left with a new understanding of the nuances of working with every angle of the anvil and the importance of tooling.