For the love of iron – the colourful world of blacksmithing
“I enjoy using my traditional blacksmith skills, working with iron to produce fine personalised pieces for my clients.” So says Mike Johnson of Brocton Forge Ltd who has been working with iron for over 35 years. He honed his skills in blacksmithing following his 4-year boilermaker apprenticeship in the UK back in the seventies. Over the years Mike has developed a passion and specific expertise in working with all things metal.
Mike moved with his family to New Zealand 18 years ago, initially settling in Invercargill. He quickly developed a strong client base and a solid work reputation in the Queenstown and Wanaka areas. It was a natural progression to relocate with his family to Central Otago where he continued to build his business. “I am fortunate that I’ve never had to advertise or require logos on my work vehicles – it was all word of mouth.”
With their children grown up and Mike’s eldest son attending university in Auckland, Mike and his wife decided to seek a new and different life in Warkworth.
Mike’s work is always varied, spanning everything from candlesticks, iron doors and furniture, to ornate balustrades and chandeliers. “While blacksmithing can be seen as being traditional and from the past, the modern blacksmith has to adapt and meet the needs of the times,” says Mike. “Some of my work is very artistic.” There is a thriving market for high-end, bespoke metal work, and people come to Mike from throughout NZ for something a little different.
Helping people understand what works best with metal and interpreting their ideas is a large part of Mike’s work. “I enjoy being able to work with my clients to ensure that they are getting what they want and, in most some cases, ultimately getting a unique piece of work.”
Mike is currently working on automated iron entrance gates. “I design and manufacture the gates and have a strong working relationship with an electronic automation expert who provides me with high-quality, reliable electronic parts sourced from Italy.”
Despite a busy work schedule, Mike is trying to find time to indulge his passion for artistic iron sculptures and art pieces for which he has some great ideas. In the meantime, he will forge ahead with the work he loves.