Ferrous: Working alongside Blacksmiths pt: 1; introduction and conception

Partnered with a blacksmith from the Ba (Hons) Blacksmithing, the task is to create some form of illustrated object, be it a zine, or other paraphernalia, to inform and/or depict information about said Blacksmith, showing either them, their personality, hobbies or even their work in general.

I have been partnered with Aaron Houghton, a level 6 Blacksmith with a interest in reenactment. He runs a viking reenactment society where he teaches other people to fight using a range of weapons, including bows, crossbows, sword, and spears (his weapon of choice). Aaron uses his blacksmithing skills to create his own armour and weapons that he uses; and can also make his own clothes. His recent work has featured a lot of snakes, a recently found interest that to quote “has become a bit of an obsession”.

After deciding on making a zine as the final outcome, the next task was to decide on a which aspect of my blacksmith I would like to depict within the zine.

Pinterest research:

x x

(note: second pinterest board was made on a partner account)

Initially the only information I had on Aaron was that he liked snakes; this mainly due to us using conflicting means of communication and not being able to find each other in person because of this. On our first meeting, I had nicknamed him “snakeguy” so my initial research and idea was based upon this; however this will not be developed upon as I now have more information to work with.

In thinking about what sort of zine to make, I developed a concept of the a concertina book with a snake forming the outside cover, that would join back round to the front forming a ring. This idea was based on the idea of Ouroboros, the snake that eats its own tail that originated in Egypt.


After finally being able to meet up with Aaron, he told me more information about himself. I ran the idea of the Ouroboros book past him, which he very much approved of, although he did mention that their was a similar Norse version of Ouroboros. Upon looking into this more I found “Jormungandr; the world snake”, it is similar in the fact that it is depicted eating its own tail, and it fits more with the Aaron’s interest in Vikings.

Using the idea of Jormungandr, I have started to design the outside of the book, and am playing with the idea of perhaps incorporating simplified blacksmithing tools into the design, although am unsure if this has been successful or not yet.

The mechanism for how the book will stay lock into a ring has now been decided on.


The tail will slot into a cut on an additional section on the back of the head. In testing this has both firmly held even when force has pulled against in and been relatively easy to slot and unslot.



Hay Festival: Design Sheet


My design sheet that was presented to the Hay festival representatives, Aine and Becky.

They gave the following feedback:

“Experiment with mixed media, particularly in use of pattern papers, and push the shapes in the tops of the trees together. Use mid green for tree colour”

This feedback was helpful in giving me a starting point for deciding on which media i may like to use in the final imagery. They also approved of the idea of having the image be like a treasure hunt so i will be adding in other objects and  more riding hoods to find.




Hay festival: Proposed Idea

I have digitally created an idea about how the final banner may look. As this is a sample, the final image is likely to be longer and feature trees in varying densities.

Broken block trees with muted colours
Block colour trees with darker, textured colours

Above are 2 variations on how the imagery may look. I have included some potential textures and tree positioning and included the idea of children trying to find red riding hood amongst the trees. In future versions I may also include other things for them to find for instance the wolf, other animals and perhaps fruits of different colours.