BABA Conference 2023

BABA Conference 2023

for all blacksmithing friends – have you got your ticket?

BABA AGM 2023 Butser Ancient Farm

Iron Age to Contemporary Age

A Blacksmiths Tale

18th – 20th August 2023

The Venue:
Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton Lane, Hampshire, PO8 0BG

Join the British Artist Blacksmiths Association (BABA) as we explore the forging of medieval ironwork, to forge accurate recreations of items made by the Iron Age, Saxon & Roman smiths. React to the many items that have been found that were created from precious iron over 3,000 years ago with a forged contemporary response. While there has been some advancement in equipment, iron and the way it reacts to the blow of a hammer or shape of a tool, remains unchanged and is still at the heart of everything we create.

For more information and to book tickets: registration form

Demonstrations and speakers

For the conference delegates we have an exciting line up of demonstrators and speakers over the three days who will be moving up & down the Butser Ancient Farm timeline weaving the story of the blacksmith from the Iron Age through the centuries to the modern day contemporary artist blacksmith.

Owen Bush of Bushfire Forge will be running an Iron smelt over the weekend. The furnace will be built on the Friday and the iron smelted on the Saturday with the excitement of the bloom being broken out as the sun goes down on the Saturday evening. Owen, a well known blacksmithing figure on many television documentaries will also give a talk “Making History” on the making of pattern welded steel for his historically inspired Saxon pattern welded swords, Viking axes and kitchen knives that he creates, demonstrating how he achieves the patterns in the steel with his, not to be missed, hands on approach using coloured plasticine.

 David Tucker FWCB FWCB Master blacksmith, working from his forge in Derbyshire has established a reputation for forge work of the highest calibre and innovative design, will give a talk and slide presentation on his work. David has over several decades produced an impressive body of work, with a strong focus on forging, both by hand and with the power hammer and has a particular skill when it comes to developed specialised tooling to push his forging processes in interesting directions. He has received the TonyPandy Cup awarded by the WCB and is also a holder of both Bronze and silver medals from the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths.

Hector Cole FWCB MBE my dad! and Melissa Cole FWCB, Two generations of smiths, father and daughter will talk about the aspects of their individual approach to the craft and the art of metalsmithing, crossing the boundaries from art to craft and discussing making the most of resources available to blacksmiths then and now.
Hector has a worldwide reputation for the forging of high quality historic arrowheads and specialises in detailed analysis and accurate reconstruction of archaeological artefacts using wherever possible the same materials and techniques of ancient smiths. Melissa was trained in traditional blacksmithing by Hector following her art degree. She shares his love of making with metal but embraces contemporary design and all methods of making appropriate to the design. Melissa is focusing more on the sculptural pieces she has produced alongside commissioned works for public and private spaces.


May be an image of 3 people and text that says "CONFERENCE BABA British Artist Blacksmith Association BUTSER ANCIENT FARM FROM RON CONTEMPORARY AGE: BLACKSMITH Tickets are on the BABA website! book the event, order your T-shirt, pre book meals The T-Shirt! Guest Speakers 日U Hector Cole Melissa Cole Owen Bush David Tucker 18th- 20th August 2023 The Venue Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton Ln, Chalton, Waterlooville P08 OBG"

The venue is Butser Ancient Farm in Hampshire. A beautifully laid out experimental research site telling the story of over 10,000 years of human history in Britain. The farm is a world-renowned hub for archaeological research, carrying out pioneering experiments to understand how the people of ancient Britain lived, exploring traditional skills, archaeology and Britain’s prehistory. This is where our skills as blacksmiths can become part of this pioneering experiment taking the ancient skills used by the smiths from the Iron Age, Roman & Saxon eras right up to now, the Contemporary Age. Open to the public we will be covering over three thousand years of metalwork showcasing the variety of forged metalwork created through the ages and as artist blacksmiths our response in a contemporary way with creative design and modern tooling to the making of these historical items. This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the craft of the blacksmith directly to the public as we recreate metalwork from the past and create new shapes and forms for the future. The sound of hammers ringing on the anvil will bring Butser Ancient Farm to life over the weekend. Click here for more info on Butser Ancient Farm. Delegate’s have free access to Butser Ancient Farm throughout the weekend.

The first aim is to forge accurate recreations of items of the period from the Iron Age, Roman and Saxon eras. There will be information boards for each historical time period for smiths to work from that will hold details and photos of historical finds for replication. The items will be left with the Farm to aid them in their educational work with the public and school children who visit the farm each year as part of their educational journey.

The second aim is to forge contemporary responses to these period items, to look at what was forged hundreds of years ago and create a “modern version” if you like. As we all know, while there has been some advancement in equipment, iron and the way it reacts to the blow of a hammer or shape of a tool, remains unchanged and is still at the heart of everything we make.

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