A RETIRED couple have praised a craftsman who created a bespoke garden gate for their forever home in Hexham.

Cindy and Bernard Balderston have praised the craftsmanship of Fourstones Forge metalworker and owner, Russell Spence.

After decorating their forever home, the couple were looking for the perfect gate to complete it.

Inspired by Alnwick Gardens' intricately detailed garden gates, Cindy said Bernard 'really fancied something with more fantasy and whimsy' than a regular garden gate.

Hexham Courant: The full view of the gateThe full view of the gate

The pair found Fourstones Forge and contacted Russell to have their personalised gate sculpted.

"Bernard has led the design process, he's been really passionate about this gate," Cindy said.

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The couple married 28 years ago in Canada's Rocky Mountains, and Cindy said maple leaves have since been really important to them both as a reminder of their special day.

She said: "Maple leaves have always been really important to us - we wanted to incorporate maple leaves into the gate as well."

Hexham Courant: Peridot cabochon gemstones in the bird's eyesPeridot cabochon gemstones in the bird's eyes

There are peridot cabochons gemstones in the sculpted bird's eyes, a snake with cubic zirconia eyes which disguises the key hole, and various leaves and vines which climb up over the bungalow's front door.

"What Russell has done is a work of art, it's been a real collaboration as Bernard has really led it. It was Bernard's idea to put it up over the front door, it's really organic the way it flows," Cindy said.

Hexham Courant: Russell Spence fitting the gateRussell Spence fitting the gate

"It's been amazing to work with him.

"To have a craftsman locally that is capable of doing something really special is amazing. Bernard's really impressed with the design and I absolutely love it, what he's created it's very special and natural, it really blends in to all the plants."

Hexham Courant: Russell Spence fitting the gateRussell Spence fitting the gate

She said Russell listened to every request and suggestion they had, such as Bernard's suggestion to blend different colours into the metalwork for a warmer tone.

"The amount of detail, the amount of creativity and flair is really special," Cindy said.

Russell created the gate out of steel, before colours were blended and laid with heat by slowly burning the metal. 

Hexham Courant: Russell with the gateRussell with the gate

"It's been an enjoyable journey with Cindy and Bernard, I'm super pleased with the way the gate turned out."

He said due to the nature of bespoke services, it took approximately two months to complete the gate.


Hexham Courant: The gate The gate

Russell is now trying to create more of a bespoke brand for his business.

"I'm doing another similar gate for another customer but bringing Japanese Bonsai trees into it, so it'll be the same concept but slightly different," he said.