Keeping old traditions alive in the 21st century is vitally important, and, in North Antrim, one man is doing just that.
Eamonn Higgins opened up his artist blacksmith school on land which has been in his family for 150 years. He comes from a long line of dairy farmers and the forge is in an old milking parlour which was used by his grandfather.
Based in the 10th Glen of Antrim, Eamonn opened Hot Milk Forge in February 2015 and has been running evening and weekend classes in Blacksmithing and Bladesmithing with an artistic twist.
He has been a professional artist and sculptor since 2003 and for 15 years Blacksmithing formed an integral part of Eamonn’s practice. His public works can be seen across the UK and his commercial pieces are collected internationally.
Eamonn has been demonstrating and teaching Blacksmithing as part of his Public Art practice, and, in 2014 on completion of a two year artist residency in the University of Ulster, Eamonn decided it was time his Blacksmithing classes had a permanent home and so Hot Milk Forge was born.
Since then, people have been travelling to the small village of Martinstown in the Glens of Antrim where they are encouraged, by Eamonn, to learn the traditional skills. It is a celebration of wrought iron work but it also introduces people to the full potential of steel as a creative medium.
Eamonn takes great effort to up-cycle as many old parts which have been found lying around the family farm which maintains the connection with the land and its heritage and so by attending his classes you too will experience this. He has used old parts and equipment from the farm into the building of the forges.
Hot Milk Forge runs evening, weekend and day classes from Basic to Advanced Artist Blacksmithing and Bladesmithing. Those taking part weld with a fire at Hot Milk Forge – not with electricity.
Hot Milk Forge is open to tourists, private groups, couples, families, church groups and more. Evening classes are open to everyone above the age of 16.
Learning can get quite complex so group numbers are limited to ensure that everyone gets the best experience possible. You are taught as an individual so you are able to progress at your own pace. Classes are suitable for beginners because you are getting one to one tuition from Eamonn.
There are probably many of us who are able to say our grandfather or great grandfather was a blacksmith so how fantastic would it be to make your own fire side set, wrought iron gates or make a gift for your partner or family member.
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