Work by Michael Budd

I've had an interest in metal work since I was a child as my father was a welder fabricator on the docks in Portsmouth in the South of England. I spent many a Saturday in my father's workshop watching his skill at creating all manner of things out of steel. But it really wasn't until after I moved to Ireland in 2000 that I really began in earnest.
 
I had always held a secret desire to be a blacksmith but it never seemed a reality, I mean when have you ever heard a career guidance counselor suggest to someone "You should be a Blacksmith"? So it wasn't until moving here to Co. Sligo in the Northwest of Ireland, that I heard of a Blacksmith who needed an apprentice. Although in my early thirties at this point, which I thought was a little old to be an apprentice, I went straight to his forge. Luckily for me he too had come to the craft at a similar age and so I started right away.
 
From the very beginning, the moment I stepped in the forge, I felt at home. It was as if I'd been away on a long trip but had finally made it home again. I became enthralled with the forge's hidden depths, its elegance underlining strength and durability.
 
After learning what I could as an apprentice I set up my own forge and quickly established a reputation for highly-crafted work and within the first 12 months I won an RDS National Craft Award. Since then I have become the first blacksmith to be shortlisted for the prestigious Golden Fleece awards and have been a finalist in four further RDS National crafts awards. These awards, along with my growing portfolio of work, led to me taking up the job of blacksmithing mentor on RTE's Craftmaster series which one of my students went on to win. Since then I have continued teaching from my own forge as well as the Leitrim Sculpture Centre. I have also given lectures and demonstrations in the hope of encouraging more people to consider not only commissioning Blacksmiths, but also to take up the craft.
 
I continue to push my work into different areas with public sculpture, restoration and functional architectural work, through design and the search for new techniques to master, all of which I see as a lifelong endeavour.