Mittwoch, 25. November 2020

Acorn drink with Chaga


This has been quite a while coming. In the local woods, I came across an abundant supply of Chaga (Innonotus Obliquus, in German: Schiefer Schillerporling), and of course I studied this funghi very, very thoroughly before starting to use it. I knew it were in use in Siberia and Kazakhstan from my Russian mentors, but I did not think it would be growing in our part of the world. Enter climate change, and while this is a sad thing actually, for it ultimately costs the death of a lot of beautiful trees, there is a benefit to be had in harvesting the funghi.

One can faster tell what is not in it. ☺️ Starting with Betulin, Betuline Acids, Polysaccharides, Melanine to organic Vanadium. It is reputed to help with cancer therapy, indigestion, general problems with stomach, liver, kidneys and it supports blood circulation. It is also reputed to help with depressive disorders, and is antibiotic and antiviral. Concoctions of dried and charred Chaga were traditionally used as a wound disinfectant by indigenous people.  Currently there are a lot of medicinal studies by the universities of Moscow and Tokio going on examining the pharmacological properties of the funghus. 

Traditionally Chaga is drunk as tea in Siberia, Finland, the North of Sweden, Norway, Canada, Alaska, as well as China, Tibet and Japan. In the regions where Chaga is drunk on a regular basis, there are very few cases of cancer, which led to the theory that it might be beneficial, so that pharmacological examinations were started. 

Suffering from stomach problems and mild depression I can safely say that I experienced a positive effect by drinking Chaga tea on a regular basis. 

My laid mother used to say "what is bitter for the gums is sweet for your health", and while this still holds true for a lot of implications, it does not fit the bill for Chaga. For it also has a rich vanilla and cocoa flavour. It is indeed a "drink of immortals". 

I like to take one walnut sized piece of Chaga. You have to boil it for at least twenty minutes to dissolve any oxalic acids, which could otherwise cause kidney damage. I add coarsely chopped ginger, one handful of roasted acorns (I look forward to show you how I process acorns in another post), one or two hot chili and three eating spoons cocoa. You can also add one knifetip Tonka beans per litre of water. You can reuse the Chaga up to ten times. If your woods are lucky and not infested with the funghus, you can order it via Web. Just take care that it is harvested wild and in winter. 

I have to add that Chaga is a very potent medicinal funghus. Always use caution when using funghi at all. In the case of Chaga, it is a matter of life and death to boil for at least twenty minutes or use alcohol to make a tincture. I will not take any liability or responsibility for any adverse effects. Use your head.... ☺️ ❤️ 

Other than that, few discoveries I have made have changed my life as much as this humble funghus. It is a fun guy to be around. ☺️ 

Mittwoch, 18. November 2020

Piémontais friction folder

 

This is one of my favourite knives these days. Modelled after a regional knife of the Piémontais in France, aptly dubbed Piémontais or couteau de montagne, I made it from red deer antler, and a simple blade forged from 1.2842 (O2). Selective temper, of course, including the rivet hole, obviously.
The blade has a steel axle that is peened over brass washers. It is a bit tricky to make them right, because you do not have much room for mistakes. But you need very few tools... this one was made with a Victorinox locksmith SAK period. (Apart from the forge, hammer, tongs an angle grinder (before tempering) and a water-beased grinding stone. Nothing else. ) 

The friction of the antler keeps the blade in surprisingly well, so good in fact that it actually rides in my pocket every day with not so much of a worry of hurting myself. I like that the design is simple and rugged. it makes it not only reliable, but with but a little practice you could make a handle in the woods with just a SAK. Practice makes perfect, and I love to make those at the moment, so I will keep you posted! Promise! ;-P 

Friction folder with a titanium handle

Long time, no writ, so to say. In the meantime, the world has gone utterly, completely and absolutely mad. M-A-D. Off the rocker. Lost its marbles. Yap. 

Most of you know that, and I could not possibly add to anything that has already been said about that. We will be facing autocrats all over the world, maybe WWIV. Yes, IV. And climate change. And poverty and sickness and decay. Yes. 

Of course I am fucked. Being an artist, as I finally have acknowledged to myself, I will suffer from starvation, neglect or even be manhunted. And time was, I panicked. Been through one or the other ordeal. 

You know what? You know what saved me?

Oh, I think you guessed.... ;-). There are lovely people having me and my smithy, and I could start to forge again. On private ground, with my own tools and my own forge, and for the most part, solitarily, meaning, I can actually concentrate on real progress for myself. Forging outside, in a lovely orchard. Not perfect, and not permanently, and I still have to look for a smithy, but oh so good. It reminds me of the time when I took up smithing, way back then in the garden of my old home by the lake, which is no more. But this is new. 

And when I am forging stuff, there are few things to keep me from focusing on the good work. Meaning, I can make some actual progress, and, focussing helps to keep out all the negative stuff. Just the fire, hammer and anvil. A green orchard, a bit of silence otherwise. Perfect.

This is something I am a bit proud of, even if I still have a lot to learn still. I owe a lot to Fabrice Julien Cognot and master Nobuya Hayashi simply for inspiring me. Same goes for my old friend Joel Delorme, who got me started in the first on wanting to make these folders. I have grown increasingly fond of these. They offer almost the strength of a fixed blade knife, are good to carry around, and they do not scream "combat knife" on top of their lungs... ;-) And it is a dead simple design, which, if made carefully, offer a lot of safety, a surprising amount of it, in fact. 

The all-metal design also is sturdy and resilient to boot. Three parts, no frills.

This is a WIP, of course, not peened over yet, and I have to adjust the handle a bit still. Actually, the handle design is inspired by a knife from the viking age. There are several finds from Novgorod and Birka. As an example, this one might do:(http://users.stlcc.edu/mfuller/NovgorodMetalp.html)

In Birka, there are finds that have the metal handle protrude in front towards the blade, keeping it spring-loaded and thusly in the handle. This works surprisingly well. The knife I am currently making has a titanium handle, which I forged from a round stock of Ti6Al4,5V, which I got on a Marburgian flea market. as I said, the protrusions towards the blade will be adjusted some and will do the job to keep the blade in. If you opened it, the friction in the handle and your hand will serve the purpose to keep it safe. No lock required, and thusly perfectly legal in Germany.
The blade, however, is another novelty for me. I used 1.2842 (O2). I am just beginning to learn the ins and outs of this steel, but as is, it makes for a good compromise between hardness, edge retetntion and flexibility. Of course I gave it a selective temper, including the rivet hole, of course.
Actually, I see this as a beginning of a journey. It feels good to experience a progress, and while I know that this is in no way perfect, I know that another journey just started. And it gives my hands something productive to do and relieves me from code black.
And this , as I hope, is a positive message for my faithful readers around the world. At least, it is for me. The internet is full of the latest bad news and catastrophes, served hot from a press that is meaning no ill but serves its purpose. And there is little we can do. 

What we can, however, is giving our hands something to do. Of course some of you might be confined to your homes, some of you might not be able to get outside or into a shop. But a pencil and some paper, knitting or naalbindning needles, some leather, twine, awl and needles will serve you well, and this is something you can even do in your kitchen or living room. Whatever you do, take your break from the everyday rapidfire of bad news. Give your hands something to do, They are better connected to your heart than your mind can ever be. Don´t try to change things you cannot change. Keep it simple, and put one foot firmly planted upon the earth after the other. One step at a time. And new trails will open. 

Take good care, all of you, and stay healthy!

Montag, 6. Juli 2020

Death throes of the terror squid - and still I am alive

This is a strange post, stranger even than usual. For the world is a very different place than it was some months ago.

On a private notion, my beloved mother died at the age of 85 on the 8th of December, and that was hard, even though I had time to make my peace with that fact for years. Now I am caring for her partner, who is of not exactly good health, too, and that´s hard.

I lost a lot of so-called friends, too, `nuff said. I lost any opportunity to forge, or craft, or do anything with my hands, in the process, too. I tried to start a business with forging with kids and doing forging tutorials and lectures and stuff... and the lockdown came, and left me with nothing, no chance to earn any money, no funding, no dole, since I have inherited money, which is not worth menitioning, and another inheritance is still in the process, because my cousin died, too. This is an interesting experience.

For I still find my ressilience. I find it in the woods, period. I find it stumpsitting and foraging for food, which has become a matter of actual survival, but it does not matter much. When I can get human food I eat it. When I eat roadkill, that´s also okay. When I dumpster dine, I dumpster dine.

And what is actually happening is, that I seem to be able to put a different perspective on things.

Artists in Germany suffer, and most of them suffer severely, and most existentially. There is actual hunger, and actual need. You can go to holidays, flying in an airplane where you sit shoulder to shoulder for hours on end, but cannot do forging tutorials with more than five people. Medical personnel suffer from fatigue, and while they get a pat on the shoulder, they remain underpaid, and overworked, because it is far more important for the heads of state to sponsor air traffic corporations. Museums, theatres and social insitutions are closed, while big-term automobile corporations get a sponsoring of tax money.

Oh, no, I do not buy into their conspiracy theories, for they are just methods of wagging the dog. Might even be those douchebags are being paid, but I don´t know at all. And I could not care less.

Additionally, and not without some wicked humour, I must say that there´s an idiomatic turn in Germany to classsify someone as exceptionally stupid and raving mad. It goes like "Der hat wohl Lack gesoffen", which translates as "He must have drunk paint stripper". I never thought I had to learn that there some day will be a head of state of whichever country and whatever suggesting we should get rid of a pandemic by drinking Chlorox, disinfectant or paint stripper or shove a torchlight up our arse.

In the meantime, global warming proceeds and rapidly accelerates. we are not facing the anticipated rise in average temperature of 2°C, which would have been bad, but 4°C in all. Look on the UN website, where I got my info. Scientists of the UN fear that with this rapid rise, organized society will fail.

And we fight each other because someone has more pigments than another? We claim we are the chosen ones? Yeah, fight each other as much as you want. Vegans fight vegetarians because they still eat dairy products, and everyone hates each other just because he is first in the queue at the grocery store. Yeah, fight and hate each other as uch as you want.

It actually IS my business, but I do not care. I don´t hate "them", "the others" or "the whites" or "the blacks". I do not even hate the fascists and Nazis of all cultures.

To be frank, this is the end of our civilization. There is no way out of this, since we will not develop new standards of morale, or at least return to the ones we still had in the `80`s or even the `90`s. And 80% of the population will die. Then all will start again, and if enough of us die, maybe the ecosystem will regenerate again, until we rise again to destroy everything again. We could even now change a lot of things, and it would be dead simple.

For we just needed to do less, not more. If we stopped living a life of hate, greed and lust, of madness and the frenzy of still more, more, more, we could calm down and find our resilience.

In survival lore there is an idiom called STOP. This is short for Stop-Think-Orienteer-Plan.

Mankind is in a survival situation. But do we stop and even think? No, we don´t. We run even faster. We buy products we do not need, we cultivate our adipositas and are proud of our incapacity even for everyday challenges. We lack data on the current crisis, but we accelerate even faster.

The fat cats and oligarchs just pour fuel into the fire of our greed and insanity.

I, however, will not put my hand into this chopping mill anymore. Chance is, I will die, and soon. But until then, I will live. And at least try to erase some of the lies I have been force-fed all my life.

There are scandals in the meat industry, and please get me right, even the term "meat industry" is a perversion to start with. I eat meat, and I will continue to do so. Try to kill me for it, but you might not succeed. But the culprit is, okay, we say, so just let´s stop to eat meat and all will be good. And we start to use surrogates, mainly from the soy industry, with one famed corporation at the head of the market, whose explicitly stated  goal is to gain world dominion by dominating the food and crops market. You cannot change this system from within. Putting yourself outside of it, however, seems to be impossible, and, to be honest, most will die, because they are simply not tough enough, have next to no life skills and are utterly dependant on the system. When it collapses, these will whine and get aggressive and die in the process. Capitalism will become more and more totalitarian. We are already seeing the first measures taken. For the fat cats and oligarchs know full well that this system is failing and try to milk as much profit out of it as possible until it is time. They could not care less for the lives of billions. But the good news is that these are the death throes of the leviathan. The Third Reich endured for 16 years. It was hell on earth, and we will live in an even worse hell on earth. But any human societal system will be purged by climatic catastrophes, and we do not have to endure so much longer.  We have some five years until everything starts, give or take one to three.

And, before you get me wrong, I am not an advocate of hoarding weapons and ammo for the apocalypse. Survival will be a matter of what always made humans survive. Even if the system collapses - and might even be there´s still hope - we need ideas and cooperation and resourcefulness far more than firepower. A garden is a more powerful weapon against global warming and hunger, and knowledge a better asset than money. Of course there will be looting and pillaging, and we are faced with the hardest time mankind ever in its history had to face, and there´s a good chance this is the point of our extinction.

There is not much to add to this, and there is no cardinal way to survive this. We had the worst leaders at the worst of times ever. Is there?

There is a reason that in every story and every religion there is one aspect that can save your butt:

Love.

Not flagellant hysteria, not hate, greed and war and violence. Love.

I just want to say: Take care. Care for each other, for your neighbours, for the elderly, for the weak, for those who had bad luck or manoeuvered themselves into a fix. Don´t judge, just lend a hand. And talk. Talk, talk, talk. Learn what the other guy or gal is about. We are all in this together, and we don´t need someone to blame. We need solutions, and we need to live again. For the foundation of our society was what in every philosophy, every story, every myth and every religion on this earth is called the cardinal sins. Don´t expect people to help you, though. Just take care. Simple as that, and don´t panic.

Montag, 23. Dezember 2019

Knifemaking tutorial with a bunch of very nice people (yes, I am still alive)


 So, folks, it has been quite some time since you have read anything on this blog, and chance is, you already lost patience with me. I had been meaning to write for quite a long time now, but alas, life got the upper hand on me. I lost my day job earlier this year and am still more or less unemployed. A brief hope of working for a sustainability project in Schwelm failed due to... well... let me put it that way... HUMANS! Then my beloved mother got severely ill with liver cancer and died on December, the 8th, after 85 years of making this world a better place. So you can bet I had other things on my mind than writing, and I had to orienteer myself and put a load of things into perspective. For instance, I had to learn the hard way that friends are foes who attack from behind. At least some are. Others simply pop up and help you out when you least expect it. Still others might not yet be called friends, but help you out anyway.

Anke, Marcus and their kids are of the latter stamp. So, we did a knifemaking tutorial for them on their little estate in the countryside.




We forged some semi- integral hunting / bushcraft knives with a rattail tang with the adults.



Willy gladly agreed to come along and did as great a job as usual, also forging with kids.



We forged in pairs and I let the folks do a bit of work, too. 



Here you can see we burned the tang in. While it can be done without pre-drilling a hole, we drilled a tiny hole in first. This helps to center the red-hot-tang and minimizes the chance of the wood splitting or the tang bending. You might need several heats to get the tang through. The advantage of burning the tang into the handle is that you get a very good fit, which is important if you use rozzil (cutler´s cement) or natural resin. We used yew wood for the handles. If using yew, make sure, the workplace is well vented; it might not be very good for your health to inhale the fumes! If the wood starts to burn, you can simply blow off the flames or quench it in the bucket. The wood must be completely dried out for the procedure to minimize cracking!



If you forge in pairs, make sure you stay in rhythm. It might be best you make appointments concerning the "smithing language", or else there might be some dangers involved. When doing this with kids, you also might want to keep your stroke somewhat lower than that, also to minimize danger.



Anke had provided us with some delicious pulled pork from the dutch oven and some quality beverages. When we called it a day to commence again come January, we had a hearty and outright delicious meal and a beer... and a chat with really great people. It was not just a tutorial, but a ball and a party to us, and real good fun. In a shitty time of my life, I really look forward to part II of the tutorial, where we will to the quenching and tempering and grinding stuff and mount the handles.

And I promise not to keep you waiting THAT long again. ;-)

Mittwoch, 11. September 2019

Victorinox New ranger review

 So folks, finally a new knife post... you have asked for it, and here it is. I am personally growing really fond of some simple Swiss army knives for various reasons. Now there is nothing wrong with a good sturdy bushcraft knife, and for a backwoods outing, it will always be my primary choice. But a Swiss army knife is sort of politically more correct, as much as I hate speaking the word of these controlmongers. But that is not all there is to it. To be quite honest, there is little more you need for a stroll in the woods. I share a documentation with you with the all-famous hero of the Swiss knife, Felix Immler (visit his channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/Taschenmesserbuch/videos?view=0&shelf_id=2&sort=p&app=desktop), which might open your eyes. I simply like the atmosphere of the knives. They invoque images of sitting by a creek and whittling away or having a snack with grandpa. They are a really proven design and offer a versatility few other tools can offer, but they are a bit more handy than a multi-tool plier. Also I have grown really fond of the new models with walnut scales and have used them now extensively for several years. For example, the second from right is my own Vic forester, which virtually rides in my pocket every day. The effect on the wood you can see when compared to the knife of the magic troll on the far right, which is a backup and finds its place in her EDC rucksack. The huntsman on the far left is the second knife in my pocket, because it offers some additional shears, a hook, a small blade for detail whittling and more useful tools like the awl and saw, corkscrew caplifter and can opener. My newest addition is the New ranger, which is the successor of the Wenger New Ranger. An interesting fact is that, as Wenger went bankrupt after the 9/11 incidents and the following judicial mayhem, Victorinox took over the Délemont facilities and all employees. Also they have a policy that the management must not get more than six times the salary than the lowest fee. But, fact is fact, and fact is that the New Ranger is one hell of a knife.
 The knife offers beautiful walnut scales, which are, to be honest, a bit thick to my liking, but a file and some sandpaper changed that and now it is a really handy user that rolls and rocks in the hand like a cinch. Out of the box the saw and main blade came razor sharp as usual. You can bet on that... I have never encountered a Vic or Wenger knife that did not shave outta the box. A real upgrade towards the old Wenger is the tin can opener, which now cuts in a forward motion. The difference to the forester caplifter, which has a liner block, it has no locking mechanism, which makes it a little less usable as a prybar, but as is, the spring has enough stay to keep you relatively safe.
 Also, the awl is now sharpened, which makes it a cinch when drilling or punching holes or repairing leather...

The corkscrew is a nice addition which also makes it a valuable addition for a nice picknick outing with a bottle of wine and some good cheese and suasage... which I admit I am a more than a bit partial to... ;-) 
 Like that, see? ;-)
That video is in German, but it really transports the spirit of this kind of knife. Enjoy! For some reading into the topic, look here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Swiss-Army-Knife-Book-Projects/dp/0711238898

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Werken-mit-dem-Taschenmesser-unterwegs/dp/3038008338/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Werken+mit+dem+Taschenmesser&qid=1568210373&s=books&sr=1-1

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victorinox-Swiss-Knife-Whittling-Easy/dp/1565239091/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Felix+Immler&qid=1568210427&s=books&sr=1-3

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victorinox-Swiss-Army-Knife-Whittling/dp/1497100712/ref=sr_1_4?keywords=Felix+Immler&qid=1568210455&s=books&sr=1-4

There are a lot of cool books on the topic, and a lot of nice projects to make, especially with kids.


Montag, 2. September 2019

Stripping nettles for fibres (German in video)

Long time, no see, folks. I want to use the occasion to apologize. `Course it is easy to blame others for one´s own mistakes, but fact is, there have been a lot of shitty things that have occured to me that were beyond my control. So this blog is in a sorry state. ´Nuff said, I sincerely thank you for your patience!

This video is somewhat important to me... the magic troll and I just sat in the woods and looked at the sunlight through the leaves. Now the magic troll is absolutely ace when fibres are concerned, and fact is, I had somewhat a hard time getting to terms with cordage-so this little really agreeable outing helped a lot. The language is in German, but I guess the pictures tell a story of their own, and will help people trying to figure out one way to do it as much as that session helped me myself. And, of course, one thing is crucial: Don´t make a big fuss, just get out and try it. Make it sustainable, of course, but don´t be shy, just try! ;-)

Bild könnte enthalten: 1 Person, sitzt, Baum, Schuhe, im Freien und NaturBild könnte enthalten: eine oder mehrere Personen und im FreienBild könnte enthalten: Pflanze und im Freien

Sonntag, 30. Juni 2019

The beast in cutting: First test of the Nepal Khukuri House Seax

I had asked Ambar to show my faithful readers something about the performance of the new seax we made in collaboration with https://nepalkhukurihouse.com/ and one of the finest retailers for knifemaking supplies, Scandinavian knives, bushcraft and camping equipment and fine art in Germany, www.nordisches-handwerk.de. While not exactly period and thusly maybe not the museum reenactors piece of cake, this knife is specially made to tailor the needs of anyone in need of a knife that can handle the rigors of a reenactment camp, a bushcraft outing or generalwork around the woods, the house and the garden.

Some of you might ask, what´s up with that old fart Fimbulmyrk doing advertising now? And those who know me know that I am not off my rocker for anything that does not fit my bill. This does, and I do this because I am convinced of the quality.It has always been a pain in the arse for me to see all these seaxes on reenactment fairs with more than modest quality. And of course you might say, K!, that guy´s cutting a bit of paper, so what, I have to cut through deer ribcages all of the time and need a knife for that. But these knives come checked for Rockwell hardness, and the Khuks come with 55HRC ABOVE the edge. If you know how a Khukuri is tempered, you know that the edge will be a lot harder still.

Also, both partners are working hard ona  sustainable partnership and fair shares for both parties. I am convinced, and I hope to be able to get myself one soon for testing. So,even if I am a bit behind schedule with my blog this year (apologies, folks! ;-) I have been through somewhat of a rough time...) - watch this place, this story is to be continued!

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