Francis Duck on behalf of his Grandson, Oscar
Very many thanks for an extremely enjoyable day with you yesterday. Oscar learned so much from you. It was a joy to observe you teaching all three students each at his own different level of experience. I am sure that my grandson will remember your gentle and firm guidance for many years and will continue his enthusiasm for blacksmithing throughout his life. Whether as a profession or a hobby only time will tell.
Attending a blacksmithing Course at Bluefoot Forge was certainly beneficial, and great fun too!
Pete Smith is an inspiring individual. He is a gifted Blacksmith, and one of only thirteen (worldwide) holders of a Licentiate from the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths. He is also that very rare beast – an exceptional teacher. He combines an encyclopedic knowledge of his subject(s) with a flair and passion for teaching. He is able to understand the myriad difficulties the student is experiencing and devise solutions to apply ‘on the fly’, as it were.
I was certainly ‘encouraged to think like a blacksmith and how to train your eye to see what the smith must see to succeed’ I developed certain poor habits which Pete spotted immediately and assured me that they were very common indeed. Using a combination of wry humour and repetition of instructions I was fairly well ‘cured’.
Thoroughly enjoyable and instructive.
I really enjoyed the three-day course at the forge, given as a present by my wife. Your teaching method was spot-on with clear demonstrations and lots of time to create your own items with a gentle helping hand when needed. Each item was well chosen to learn both the fundamentals of forge work with more advanced techniques. I was amazed at the number of interesting items I produced over the days, both artistic and useful. They even looked to be of a reasonable standard to me even though my last forge work was at school 46 years ago. My ‘stretching cat’ has taken pride of place on our log burner stove. The hospitality offered by Heather was excellent with well provisioned tea breaks and delicious lunches in a charming kitchen. It was a real treat to have the use of such excellent facilities and provided an unforgettable experience. Thank you. Phil Platt
I’ve just returned home from one of Pete Smith’s three day courses. There was only one problem with the course – I didn’t want to leave when it finished! Many people hold themselves out as master craftsman. Pete isn’t one of those people – instead he quietly lets his skills and his natural teaching style speak for him. What they say about him is that he is a true craftsman – he teaches not only hand skills but also the judgment, dexterity and care required for good workmanship (I may owe some credit to David Pye for that last little bit). As an added bonus Pete’s wife Heather provided us with some fantastic lunches, which we agreed were probably worth the trip alone. Whether you’re just starting out or looking to improve specific skills, Bluefoot Blacksmithing is the place to go!
Katie McLennen-Dobson. Student 2014/15
Pete taught me blacksmithing for a year. I started as a beginner having never worked metal and with low confidence in my ability. Throughout the year that Peter was my tutor my confidence grew. He helped nurture a rounded view of the processes involved, from the first design to the completion of the artefacts. Pete was always available and enthusiastic to help and never made me feel like any question I asked was a stupid one. He also steered me toward self-learning, giving me the freedom and ability to experiment for myself using a variety of techniques he taught and an eagerness to share any knowledge he had. His confidence in his students ability and capacity to learn transferred to me, giving me the foundation needed to push myself out of my comfort zone and really try new and exciting things. He helped work through frustration of not getting a process straight away, patiently coaching me through the process one on one. I felt like Pete tailored the teaching to me, picking up on my weaknesses and strengths and working on both with me.
Katie Louise Surridge.
In September (2016) I will be going back to study blacksmithing at Hereford and Ludlow college for another year. It was during my first year that I had Pete as my tutor, and he was the one to take us through everything we learnt. He has such a huge wealth of knowledge about blacksmithing and was a great tutor both practically and when discussing techniques away from the forge. For me there was a lot of frustration at first and he was really patient and kept encouraging me so that my confidence grew. I really enjoyed having him as a tutor as he totally understood what my interests were, I was coming from an art background and wanted to learn blacksmithing as a way to take my art practice forwards. Pete was really understanding of this and helped me on this journey. What I love most is that you are bound to learn a lot more than just blacksmithing in every lesson.
(Welder, fabricator, sculptor)
I am a fabricator by trade but in my spare time I make sculptures/ornaments etc. I have been fabricating for around 18 years and thought that I was pretty good at what I do!
One thing that I hadn’t done was blacksmithing. As a way to enhance my work and add another ‘string to my bow’, I decided to look at doing a course in blacksmithing. I found that there was a night class at Holm Lacey Campus.
This is where I met Pete, has he was the lecturer.
Just from talking to Pete for a few minutes I could tell that he was very passionate about the art of ‘smithing’ but, it wasn’t until he gave us a demonstration that I saw the talent that he had!I was hooked! Pete made it look very easy! (That’s the sign of a great craftsman)
When it comes to teaching, Pete is very patient and has the able to see the fine details that is required, where to stand, how hard to hit it, how hot the material is etc.
When you might be getting frustrated because it’s ‘just not working’ Pete just as the knack of explaining in a way that you can understand.
A truly talented craftsman and great teacher!
Leszek Sikon from Poland
I have found Pete to be a great teacher that has a incredible amount of knowledge,
he is passionate about his work and has a natural talent to explain complicated processes to his student/ I have been his student for the last two years and I’m confident that I wouldn’t be as good of a blacksmith without his guidance.
James Livesey, 24, Student, Sydney, Australia.
I had the privilege of being a student of Peter Smith for two years at the National School of Blacksmithing. He taught me to make my first ever pair of tongs. For two years he was involved in my metalwork education and was always an inspiration and role model for me. He has a wide knowledge of all things metal, from the scientific side of blacksmithing to the creative and aesthetic side. Whenever Pete had a spare minute and worked on a fire I was always keen to see what magic he had created. When I talk to people about the blacksmith I want to be in twenty years time I use Pete as the level of skill I can only dream of; the way he thinks and his ability to picture form and function in his head and then apply his skills to create true art is incredible. I am truly lucky to have been a student of Peter, and will always remember his gentle and kind manner.
I have know Pete Smith over the last 3 years from studying Blacksmithing at Hereford College. Pete has been my Tutor, Teacher and friend over the years and his Tuition, support and patience played a huge part of my learning experience.
Having Pete as a blacksmithing teacher was an absolute treat. Pete has extensive knowledge, skill and experience in blacksmithing and I feel lucky to have been taught by him. As a teacher, Pete is calm, patient, understanding and supportive. He encourages people to think independently but also knowing help is at hand, sometimes all it takes is 3 words from Pete and a switch is flicked in my head and I understand what move to make next.
Pete has inspired me with is passion for blacksmithing, approach to teaching and outlook on life, I have learnt some valuable lessons from Pete along with the magic of blacksmithing.Pete’s passion for his work and practice, along with his natural ability to teach is a privilege to experience and, he has all the time in the world anybody who wants to learn.
After waiting a mere 20 years to learn the trade I had always dreamt about, I had the pleasure of training under Pete at Hereford college’s Blacksmithing & Metalworking course in 2011. I’m glad I did.
Pete’s training approach is calm, hands on, no nonsense (the good kind) and to the point.
He understands the metal-working processes in great depth and applies them with an exceptional amount of skill, some even say wizardry … you’ll find out why.
The way Pete demonstrates techniques and processes is easy to follow and clearly explained. He encourages note taking, but more importantly expects students to pay attention to what he is doing during the demo.
Students’ questions are answered patiently and always with a sense of ‘try things out for yourself’.
Pete encourages you to try and learn from your mistakes as problem solving is a key skill; not just for blacksmithing.
While the training at Hereford college is a mix of old & new, Pete favours traditional techniques over their modern counterparts where ever possible.
If it can be done by traditional means instead of a grinder, welder & co. you will learn how to; or at least be told how.
You thought you’ll need flux to fire weld? You’ll see you don’t.
You thought you’ll need a belt-sander for a smooth tool finish? You’ll see you don’t. You thought you knew about sun-dials and Stonehenge? You’ll see …
I enjoyed every day of it and wish I could have done two more years.
I highly recommend training with Pete for anyone interested in learning the King of crafts from one of its masters.
Pete Smith was my tutor and mentor during three years of study at the National School of Blacksmithing in Holme Lacy, Hereford. By the end of those three successful years I took away a triple distinction and a life-long friendship and admiration for Pete.
In my humble opinion he is one of the most talented men I have ever met. I am still in awe at some of the things I have seen him create and I still can’t work out how he managed to do them. His creation of the Solar Eye was nothing less than a piece of wizardry.
It’s hard to understate the influence he has had on me, and my future career, and he is a truly inspiring figure. I honestly believe this man only has good to give and he is absolutely generous with his knowledge.
Hand on heart Pete Smith has changed my life for the good and I hope he will continue to do so.