John Cooksley

John Cooksley

Medium: Blacksmith

John reveals his craft secret!

What are you working on at the moment and where do you find ideas for your work?

I have several projects running concurrently: A staircase for a new-build house, a chandelier for a local winery, a decorative side gate with a marine theme for a private house, a rose tunnel for a private garden and the conservation of some gates for the town council.

What medium do you use in your practice and why?

Primarily, blacksmiths such as myself use mild steel which is our modern equivalent of wrought iron. I also use copper for certain jobs such as weathervanes and water features.

What motivates you to make work? Who do you believe has influenced your career and inspired you to start?

I’m very strongly a contextual person. I like to respond to my clients’ desires and ideas, even when these might not be entirely clear at the outset…

What is your favourite piece of work you have created, and why?

It’s too difficult to pick one, it really is. I’ve been very fond of a few things – an art nouveau fire basket, a copper Bald Eagle centrepiece for a weathervane and some modern hop-themed gates are some that do come to mind though…

What is your proudest achievement?

To be asked to do a piece of work that had already been put out for tender on behalf of a private client, but they stepped in and asked me to do it for them. Really lovely.

What is the most indispensable item or tool in your studio?

The forge fire. It’s so core to what I do that I couldn’t operate without it. I can use various hammers and tongs (or make them if I need them), but that would need heat!

Where is your favourite place to see art / craft?

Blacksmithing craft is all around us if you know where to look and what to look for.

Farnham has a great history of craft and art-smithing. However, the V&A has a fantastic blacksmithing gallery that never fails to inspire me.

Why Farnham as a place to practise your art / craft? What is it about being part of the town that is special?

Historically, the blacksmith was a valued and useful member of the community and the modern blacksmith still has a role to play adding more layers to the history of their community. Farnham has such a rich blacksmithing heritage that I feel proud when I’m asked to add my bit to that body of work.

Can you share a craft ‘secret’ or your favourite hidden craft thing / space / memory?

If you try to hit something too hard, you often miss…

Being part of a community of makers is…

…being constantly surprised by the quality, ingenuity, diversity and skill they bring to the work that comes from them.