Meet the Maker

We had the pleasure of connecting with the exceptionally talented Ted Edley, the creative force behind The Dorset Copperfish. Read on as Ted shares the captivating journey behind his craft, unveiling the intricate processes that breathe life into the awe-inspiring features adorning The Blue Pool.

What inspired you to start making?

I’ve always made, well stuff, from a very early age, tinkering with any materials I could get my hands on. Because my family has an engineering background I was taught to weld around 14 years old, I ended up in the motor trade mainly doing accident repair but circumstance led me to working at a coach builders repanelling mainly pre-war cars. 

Most of what we did there was made from scratch, this gave me a wide skill set in many metals and the thing is I loved the endless shapes, sweeps and curves, in particular the 30s era. I am also a slightly puddled old punk rocker and love that whole ‘do it yourself’ attitude with no rules. When I became self-employed, I took part in Purbeck Arts weeks, not really knowing what to do I made big fish with big teeth and it kind of took off from there.

Ted Edley making metal work at The Dorset Copperfish

How would you describe your signature style?

Growing up I loved, like so many, all sci-fi especially Jules Vern, HG Wells era, that whole Victorian futurism, steampunk if you like but I also love aircraft, even bridges with nice shapes. So, combine that lot and make it a bit spikey with some nice shape here and there and you have my style…I guess.

Can you walk us through your creative process?

Creating is a funny process for me, I seldom draw anything, I just think it through and start to make. It’s a real rollercoaster and when you’re in the zone it just flows, but it can be a real battle sometimes as things just don’t work or look wrong, one minute it’s the greatest thing you’ve ever made and the next it’s ready for the scrap bin, peaks and troughs but I get there in the end. I do always try to approach projects with an engineering eye as well, it has to be strong enough, be movable, installation are all considerations. I do generally start with the base as I learnt very early on that a good foundation makes the piece easer to work on.

Ted Edley welding in his workshop at The Dorset Copperfish

What materials do you enjoy working with most?

Because I work in most metals I’m often asked which is my favourite, but well I don’t really have one. Each has properties which are both good and bad, steel welds nicely but can be hard work shaping, copper shapes nicely, tarnishes but patinates in amazing colours, aluminium is really versatile but you’re stuck with one colour, and stainless is just hard work full stop.

Can you tell us about the work you've created for The Blue Pool?

So, I’ve been asked to make many pieces over the years and one of the stand outs was the dragonfly at The Blue Pool. Because of the setting I wanted to capture the natural surrounding and with the dragonfly on an unfurling fern seemed the way to go. With the fern I used steel for the main body, it has an internal framework that takes the load and the outer steel is left to rust and go the rich brown. For the leaves I used copper which are lacquered to give a soft but striking contrast, this piece was as much about the texture and colours as the shape, also I wanted the copper to reflect the sunlight. 

When it came to the actual dragonfly we needed to incorporate an art deco feel to reflect the linage of The Blue Pool, so hence the fan pattern on the wings and also to incorporate art deco style cues in the body as well, I used a lot of stainless steel and copper for the dragon fly itself as again I wanted the contrast to the fern, an awful lot of thought went on in my slightly puddled mind.

Dragonfly sculpture with 2 people looking up at it

In addition to the dragonfly I recently finished the new gates for the entrance, The Blue Pool has its logo and I was asked to make it….big size, create an impact as you walk in, this is an all steel construction and the biggest challenge was making it big enough and strong enough. All the upscaling was done on paper with a calculator, I’m not a luddite but I do like the analogue. Getting the gates to meet was really important but thankfully the guys putting the posts in did a really great job and like the dragonfly the first time I saw them completed was when we installed them.

The Blue Pool steel gates at the entrance

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