The blacksmith

    Spotlight 8/2018
    John Churchill, blacksmith
    © Paul Biddle
    Von Dagmar Taylor

    John Churchill trained as a welderSchweißer(in)welder in France in the 1970s, but it was while working in Sudan as a welder that he became interested in blacksmithingSchmiedehandwerk, Schmiedekunstblacksmithing. He found the hands-on nature of smithingSchmiedensmithing and the skill of treating iron like a plastichier: formbarplastic material attractive.

    “As a welder, I hadn’t truly realized that this was the case. When you first come into contact with the processes of forging, it’s very liberating,” Churchill told Spotlight. What’s more, blacksmithing allows him to see a project through from the beginning to the end. “It’s a character defectCharakterfehlercharacter defect really,” he jokes.

    When Churchill returned to the UK from Sudan, he made his own forgeformen, schmieden; Schmiedeforge and started to learn the craftHandwerkcraft, figuring things out for himself as he went along. Not working in a conventional, mainstream manner meant that his products were recognizably different.

    Now based in South Devon, Churchill has been running his blacksmith business for 30 years. He began by forging traditional door and window furniture, but has since to branch outsich verzweigen, expandierenbranched out, taking on commissions large and small, traditional and contemporary. At the time of this interview, he was working on an outdoor seat that forms part of a larger commission for a number of pieces in a local garden. “I’ve just done a big firepitFeuerstellefirepit for it, and there were entrance gates and various other bits and pieces. I’ve been on this for about four months now,” he said.

    Churchill likes things that have a function and enjoys the process of coming up with interesting solutions. One of his favourite commissions was a clockworkRäderwerk-clockwork barbecue.

    “It’s a roasting spitGrillspießroasting spit, but it’s turned by clockwork. You have a fireplace, you have a spitSpießspit over it, and then you have a rather large, pendulum-drivenvon einem Pendel angetriebenpendulum-driven mechanism driving it,” he explains. “I enjoy what I do, and I’m lucky in that, as time has gone by, I’ve been increasingly able to choose the jobs that suit me.”

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