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Norfolk blacksmith set to star in BBC show

20:30 12 October 2012

Katherine Womack, who works as a blacksmith working at a forge at Shelfanger.

Katherine Womack, who works as a blacksmith working at a forge at Shelfanger.

Archant

A Norfolk blacksmith is set to feature on a BBC show next week which aims to reacquaint Britain with its proud craft traditions.

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However, Katherine Womack, 29, of The Street, Bunwell is no ordinary blacksmith, for she is among a growing number of women who are taking up the tools to learn the skilled craft.

And on Thursday, the former pub employee, who practices her trade at Darrow Farm near Shelfanger, will be appearing on the BBC2 programme Paul Martin’s Handmade Revolution after applying to take part for the chance to exhibit her work at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

In the show, to be aired at 3.45pm, she is shown being interviewed by judges along with five other trade workers from the worlds of woodwork, ceramics and crafts.

Her interest in becoming a blacksmith was sparked when she was a child and her parents Vicky, 56 and Paul, 58, would take her to the Royal Norfolk Show where she would watch blacksmiths and farriers, who specialise in horse hooves, in action.

She joked: “I used to sit at home playing with the pokers in the fire, I was a bit of a pyromaniac when I was little. I spent years longing to get into it.”

Her opportunity came in October 2010 after she had spent a year working at Spencers pub in Norwich and decided she wanted to become a blacksmith, but could not raise enough money to go on a course.

However, her mother introduced her to David Butler, a blacksmith at Darrow Farm and she asked him if she could have a go.

Since then, she has worked part-time at Mr Butler’s forge and has used her skills to make household accessories and ornaments for her friends, including candlestick holders from recycled baked bean tins, necklaces, cloak pins and fire pits in the shape of a spider.

She has also learned how to use a plasma torch to cut steel and other metals and a jigsaw.

“I was quite surprised to get the call from the BBC. My friends said I should got for it as i had the personality, so I put in an application myself and sent in some photos of my work,” she added.

Ms Womack is now planning to open her own workshop with her partner John Mallett, 33, nearer Bunwell as she plans to work independently and grow her customer base.

She believed there had been a growth in the number of people taking up traditional trades, which had almost died out, because people wanted to relearn craft skills rather than rely on cheap goods manufactured abroad.

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