AT the Great Yorkshire Show last month, a show champion prize was given to a winning piece of metalwork: a coal-black candelabra fashioned in the shape of a twisting, ornate arrangement of curled oak leaves and acorns.

The piece was created by metalworker and blacksmith Andy Basnett, in his forge near Old Malton.

He’s won the show champion prize before, at the 2010 show, but this latest piece was a result not of a specific commission by a client but of “just tinkering around, sketching ideas”.

Turning these ideas into reality, however, takes skills formed over many years at the forge.

Mr Basnett says he’s been in the business “a scarily long time - knocking on for 30 years”.

Working with steel, iron, copper and brass, he creates a diverse range of work, from reproducing and restoring historic wrought iron to creating original sculptural pieces.

I ask if it is a rare thing these days, working with old techniques in a traditional forge environment.

He says it’s not as uncommon as I might think, though there are different levels of blacksmith - from those who buy pieces in and then finish them, to those, like him, who handcraft each item with an emphasis on so-called “hot forging techniques” - working at the fire with hammer and anvil.

“To me it’s not anything unusual,” he says. Mr Basnett, and other metalworkers like him, make a large array of different pieces, from wrought iron gates to ornamental garden pieces.

Though perhaps the terms are not particularly useful, I ask if is it “art” of “craft”?

“I would say I’m a craftsman,” he says.

“I tend to believe there is art in the craft.

“Most of what I make has a function, although some pieces are purely decorative or purely sculptural.”

He has previously named arts and crafts designers like Ernest Gimson as inspirations, as well as 20th century German blacksmith Fritz Kuhn.

How did he get into it? “Partly by chance,” he says, adding that the formal apprenticeship route had, even 30 years ago, all but disappeared.

Though he hadn’t picked up a hammer before, he responded to an advertisement for a trainee and went along to an interview.

“They said, can you come along a couple of evenings a week and we’ll see how things go?” he says. They were pleased with his work, asking if he’d done it before. He did it for 18 months before taking himself off to college to continue his study of the craft.

He’s been refining his technique ever since. “There’s a common misconception that it’s all brute force,” he says of shaping metal. “But a lot of it is technique - it’s more down to finesse.”

And he says even now there are opportunities for anyone interested to have a go. “There are plenty of people around offering day course and taster sessions,” he says.

The huge array of different hammers and tools that hang in his workshop each, for the most part, has a specialism; its own use. He makes some of them himself for certain days where he needs a certain tool.

“A job may take two hours, it may take two months. There’s no such thing as a ‘typical’ day,” he says.

What is a forge like as a workplace? Not as cosy as many people think, he says.

“It’s a common misconception - everyone says it must be a lovely place to work in the winter.

“It can get very hot in summer. You just get used to it.”

Each new job, each new creation, is different. Sometimes a client will come with their own plans, sometimes they won’t have any ideas about what they would like, sometimes they would like him to copy something they have seen elsewhere.

“It’s nice when there’s a way into a job, and someone has an idea,” he says. “If there is something they want copying, you have to raise yourself to someone else’s game. Or sometimes it’s just a case of getting a piece of paper and doing some sketches.”

And like most creators, it can take him some time to see the best in his own work.

“Some jobs you can get too involved with,” he says. “It can be difficult to see the wood for the trees. Then a couple of years later you go and have a look and think - that was actually a nice job.”

The judges at the Great Yorkshire Show agree. As well as the champion award, another piece, a red Art Nouveau-inspired floral sign bracket, got second prize.