NHIG Master Class at Blacksmiths’ Festival

Matt Boultwood of the NHIG conducted a Master Class entitled ‘Lead Work for Blacksmiths’ at the recent International Blacksmiths’ Festival at Westpoint, Devon.

Lead has been used extensively throughout history as it is easily workable, has a low melting point and is non-corroding.  For example, did you know the Romans smelted approximately 80,000 tons of lead per year and used it for lining aqueducts as well as making cooking utensils from it? Lead has historically been used in everything from medicines and ornaments to pipes to sculptures. However, it is important to remember that lead is highly toxic and can cause a horrible range of illness and ultimately death.

Matt alerted his audience to the fact that blacksmiths and metalworkers may be exposed to lead more often than they think as it has been used extensively in metal fixings and was only completely banned from paint in the UK in 1988.

He went on to explain:-

  • The dangers of lead;
  • How lead enters the body;
  • Safety precautions you can take to minimise risk and exposure;
  • How lead levels are monitored;
  • Regulations covering lead work in the UK.

Matt then gave a demonstration of safe lead melting and casting with discussion on safe practice, including moulding materials, adding detail, joining and decorating lead work to enhance practitioners’ work.

To read Matt’s article ‘Lead and You’ please visit the Articles page of this website

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