Nestled at the junction of two canals in the heart of Stoke-on-Trent, lies a dusty old building where magic is made. Cold, unyielding steel is fed into the forge, heated until it becomes as soft as the clay the city is built on, and bent and beaten into elegant new shapes. A sparking welder connects the pieces and stories come to life before your eyes. I’m Charis Jones and this is my workshop where I combine traditional blacksmithing techniques with modern technology and contemporary design to create the sculptural works of art that Sculpted Steel is known for.
Sculpted Steel was born in 2008 when I graduated from Staffordshire University with a degree in 3D Design Craft. I have spent the time since honing my skills and building up a solid portfolio of work, including the Planet Trail at Keele University and a three-metre-high elephant on the gates of a local retirement village.
As far back as I can remember, creativity has been the way I make sense of the world. As a child, I was always making things with whatever materials I had to hand and spent hours inside my own imagination. Not much has changed! Ideas rattle around my head until they have to burst out and be realised.
I had my first experience of forging at school, aged 11. I HATED it! The fire terrified me, and I created a really terrible doorknocker (I think my Dad might still have it somewhere). But, nearly 25 years later, I had another go as part of my degree course. This time I was hooked. I pretty much took over the University forge and spent all my time learning how to make metal do what I wanted. Apart from a few weekend courses, I’m pretty much self-taught and am always finding new ways of doing things. I have to say that it is much easier now that YouTube exists.
I work alone. Every piece of work that comes out of the forge has been made by me. I occasionally have work experience students helping out and, for really big jobs, I have a great network of fellow blacksmiths to draw on, but generally I am a solitary soul. I need lots of space, especially in my head, to dream and plan.
While the forge is my happy place, you will also find me at a selection of Markets and Craft Fairs during the year. This allows me to interact with customers and get feedback on my work. I get to hear your fascinating stories and feed off the tales to inspire more work. You can find out where I will be here.
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