Jun 27, 2016
Shona Johnson is a 3rd generation artist blacksmith living and
working in Edinburg, Scotland. Shona began training as a
blacksmith at Ratho Byres Forge in 1989 and became a partner of the
P. Johnson & Company in 1993. The business which consists
of her father Phil Johnson (founder), her brother, Mike Johnson,
and her husband Pete Hill. All four partners work tightly together
each bringing a little extra to the team: leadership, forging,
engineering, design, communication and marketing skills.
What We Talked About
- Phil Johnson, Shona’s father, was interested in blacksmithing
from seeing his father-in-law’s forged work (this would be Shona’s
grandfather, a blacksmith) and soon discovered the BABA, British
Artist Blacksmith Organization. This is when he really went down
the path to becoming a full time blacksmith and founded the P
Johnson & Co as a blacksmith business.
- The company also has a designer, Jois Hunter, who turns ideas
into sketches, detailed drawings and models, contributing much to
the success and achievements of the business.
- Shona studied agriculture and worked in farms and loved working
with the livestock and the way of life. Though she couldn’t see a
future career in agriculture. In 1989 her father asked her to
come work at the company while she figured out what to do next,
it’s 2016 and she’s still there at the company blacksmithing.
- She learned a lot from her father and from working with other
smiths at hammer-ins and conferences.
- The company makes a variety of gates, railings, and sculptures
through commissions. They also work with Municipal parks for public
- Shona has been invited to design and make a panel for the Ypres
2016 WW1 Memorial. Her panel design tells a story of her
grandfather and his brother meeting each other near the front lines
during WW1. Her grandfather was a sniper for the Royal Irish
Rifles and heard that his brother Johnny was close by on the front
lines, so he sent a note to him saying “let’s try to meet.
They each rode bicycles to meet each other during the war to talk
about family and home.
Here is Shona’s account of her panel design:
The Finnegan Brothers, Thoughts of Home
My Granddad, Jimmy Finnegan volunteered in 1914 when he was 17
years old leaving his blacksmithing apprenticeship to join the
Royal Irish Rifles. While serving on the front line, as a
sniper, he got word that his brother, Jonny Finnegan, was billeted
nearby. The two brothers managed to send messages to each
other and arranged a time and place to meet on the reserve
line. Both borrowed bicycles and remarkably meet up and spent
a short precious time together before returning to their regiments
and the job of war. The brothers would not meet again until
several years later, at the end of the war, home in their beloved
Edinburgh. Jonny returning from fighting on the front line
& Jimmy liberated from a German prisoner of war camp.
I wanted to capture the essence of the brother’s rendezvous,
caught between the harsh reality of the war, death, despair and the
ravaged landscape and their thoughts and chat of cherished family
and friends many miles away back home in Edinburgh. The stunted
trees represent the war torn landscape with the brothers greeting
each other towards the center of the panel and memories of home
symbolized by crow-stepped gabled houses and the tall tenement
buildings of Edinburgh, home to the Finnegan family.
Shona Johnson Ratho Byres Forge April 2016
- Shona and her husband are planning on making and bring custom
tooling needed to texture and finish the panel. She’s also planning
on bring a life sized drawing of the panel as well.
- The Ratho Byers Forge (where their business is out of) held a
poppy making workshop and had around 20 blacksmiths show up to make
200 poppies to donate to the Ypres event.
A Big Thank You to today’s sponsor – Ypres 2016
International Blacksmith Event, www.Ypres2016.com
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