Shona Johnson, a Scottish blacksmith, is a partner in the family enterprise, P. Johnson & Company based at Ratho Byres Forge on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Shona took a sideways step away from agriculture in 1989 and began training as a blacksmith, under her father Phil Johnson, who established P. Johnson & Company in 1974. Shonaʼs skills have continued to develop under the guidance of her husband the accomplished ʻsmith, Pete Hill, also a partner in the family business, the other partners being Mike Johnson, an expert engineer and Sandy Johnson, responsible for the accounts.
As one of the team of eight smiths at Ratho Byres Forge Shona enjoys the continuous learning curve that is experienced with each new commission, the sharing of skills and developing of new tools and processes to create the shapes and forms that gives the work of Ratho Byres Forge a distinctive style and a reputation for quality.
Natural forms, have been a constant source of inspiration, the organic forms of plants & seed pods, the aesthetic appeal of the landscape, these elements have construed themselves as a fascination with curving, bulbous forms and sinuous line. Shona makes good use of all the tools and techniques available to her to achieve these shapes, enjoying in particular the use of large or heavy sections, manipulating a material commonly thought of as unyielding with relative ease. Designs often feature plate worked under the power hammer or deformed in the press.
Though designing can frequently be the hardest aspect of a job, Shona finds satisfaction in this struggle, be it discovering a new route down which to take her work or progressing an old idea further. Her design approach has grown within the framework of the collaboration that is Ratho Byres Forge, giving her a very open and broad philosophy.