I first spotted Rob's work on Facebook early last year. My Mum and I both found ourselves scrolling through the albums on his page, Wildfire Forge. I'd kept all of Dolly's shoes and had been on the look out for a while to find something special with them, and knew as soon as I saw Rob's work, that I'd found the right person for the job.
All of the pieces of work are hand forged in the New Forest by Rob Pearcy. He takes on commissioned work, both using his own collection of metals and horse shoes, but also the clients own horses shoes. Every piece of totally unique, handcrafted and bespoke.
"My Grandad was a blacksmith, & I was always inspired by seeing things he had made. When I left school it was a dying trade & not a career option. Instead I did a 5 year engineering apprenticeship, which thankfully involved forgework. I ended up as an aircraft engineer for 10 years! ...Sick of my job, & a change of circumstances led to an opportunity to re-train as a farrier, which I have done for 17 years. Blacksmithing has always been my passion, & my enthusiasm for it has only increased over the 30 years I've been doing it. After a long hard road, I am finally doing what I love, & I wouldn't change it for the World!"
I set Rob the challenge just before Christmas to produce something a little bit different from Dolly's shoes. My Dad was absolutely delighted with the interlocked hearts my Mum had commissioned for their wedding anniversary, made from Dolly's shoes. There were a couple ideas floating around in my head. I couldn't quite pin point exactly what I was after, so I sent Rob some examples of previous creations he had done, along with a few sketches, plus some shoes in the post.
He took the time to work out a design, sending me updates and progress shots as he went along. The original idea wasn't quite developing as he had hoped, which I agreed, so he altered the idea and produced the most perfect, amazing tea-light holder.
More than delighted, it exceeded all my expectations. He sent me a photograph of the finished product, it was better than I had imagined, combining all my ideas in to one. It arrived a few days later and has sat pride of place on the fire place ever since.
Packaged up in some tissue paper were some gorgeous purple, scented candles. Now, I'm not sure if that was a coincidence or not, but purple was always "Dolly's colour." Lighting a candle has been synonymous with remembering a much loved, and missed friend, a reflection of life still burning on, brightly, dispelling darkness and bringing warmth. I thought this would be a beautiful way to make use of Dolly's shoes.
The shoes can be finished with a "rainbow effect" or left with the polished metal visible. I liked the thought of keeping it obvious that they were made from a horse shoe. I love the fact you can still see the branding on the base of the shoe, the holes and the marks and scratches made within the metal.
The attention to detail is amazing, from the intricate horses head, down to the precision of the tails. Rob took the time to ensure the tealight sat perfectly within the frame, that the candle didn't heat up the rest of the metal work once it was lit. It's a work of art within itself, let alone for the sentimental reasons that it holds. I can't recommend Rob enough, if just like me, you want to transform some old metal shoes in to something beautiful.
Thank you so much Rob, it's absolutely perfect.