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Freitag, 5. Februar 2016

Baltic / Slavic all-metal knife

This is a knife I recently forged that was a bit inspired by the Biskupin find from the 7th century. No file work yet, and it´s still waiting for a grind, and it is a bit longer than the original at some 100mm blade length, but I must admit I simply love those double scrolls. It is made from crucible steel I found in the woods and tempered selectively. Might be I will do it a bit less authentic and go for some scales, but we´ll see. As is, the all-metal design would make for a discreet carry. The balance is a bit awkward for me due to the weight distribution towards the rear, but we´ll see.

Some thoughts on the Sica

Now this is the blade I featured some time ago, a not-so-authentic version of the Daco-/Gallo-/ Roman sica knife. Arguably not so authentic is the semi-integral bolster, but I simply love it. But then there are sicae and other knife shapes found from the Roman empire or from Celtic and Iberian finds, e.g. a Sica from Botorrita, with a short socket where the handle was fitted into, just like with some modern-day gouges, so the look might be excuseable even for reenactors;-). The reason why there are no semi-integrals found (at least not with these relatively simple knives) and even full-tang knives are relatively scarce (abundant only in Roman and Celtic countries, with the exception of iron age seaxes in Germanic culture, that presumeably had an Eastern provenience, another interesting topic), is that iron, and even more so, steel, was costly and was obtained at great pains. It tells a big story that in ancient Rome full-tang knives were quite common.

This one, however, does not at all claim to be a detailed reconstruction. It is made from an ancient chisel I found in the woods and shows a very weird spark analysis, might be Tungsten-alloyed steel such as HSS. The Sicae (or Kopis) knives I have made so far were not having that much an offset in the blade, and I thought to give it a try to test out the extreme. I have, for now, put a piece of antler on it to check out the balance while I contemplate what buttcap to fit. Balance point should be on the index finger.

Having played with it I must say that for everyday tasks such as cutting meat and slicing onions you have to think along a different train of thought. The blade gives you fierce cutting ability with a good purchase when you use it in a drawing motion, as you do with a sickle, so to say. The forward orientation of the tip gives you the possibility for a more pushing motion in a pressure cut. The shape of the blade really shines in two aspects: Woodcarving and slashing. The blade is ideal for delicate woodcarving in my book. I also tested the chopping prowess and again had to apply a different mindset. It will not work when you use the same motion as with a straight, say, drop-point knife. Is it less capable then? Not in the least, because when you use a straighter knife shape, you always have to adapt to the natural arcing motion of your wrist. With a Sica you have to keep in mind that this is not necessary. You can chop softer wood with a slashing motion by keeping your hand where it is and your wrist tight. Of course, it is no Khukhuri, but I was amazed.

The Sica in ancient Rome had a somewhat sinister reputation as the preferred weapon of back-alley cut-throats, and, having handled it, I can relate to that. It would also make a very effective fighting knife, if you knew how to handle it. The tip is always forward, and the sickle shape makes for amazing slashing capability. What fascinates me with this, is that the blade´s shape is most ancient and dates back to the earliest bronze age. And it actually follows a whiplash line, and I can´t tell it any other way, also feels "whippy". The "sweet spot" or "purchase spot" lies along the line of a Golden Ratio spiral, and, while there are always some liberties taken if you apply static geometry to a dynamic process, I strongly suspect that this has something to do with the "springy" feeling when  slashing. By the way, if you analyse the ideal curve of the application of force in some martial arts, you also get the impression of a similar dynamic (whiplash line e.g. in Qi-Gong). Of course, yeah, I admit it, I am a bit obsessed with that whiplash line thing, and might be I see spectres everywhere, but I can´t think of a better model for explaining it, and it works for me in martial arts and even mountainbiking, so, hey, I don´t get paid for this;-), so I can cook up any theory I´d like.

The culprit is, it was a great experience again to actually be able to do some work with a most ancient blade form. You can talk about endlessly about who has written what about it and when, but only if you rebuild it and use it will you be able to understand, and the enlightening effect feels that good I think I am getting addicted to it.;-)

When the knife is ready, I guess it deserves a "name" and a story, and I will see how it fares in the woods... watch this space!

On the bench-Nessmuk full tang

Currently on the bench and waiting for the finish is another Fimbulmuk design;-). I really love this style of knife. I have a great respect for George Washington Sears, not necessarily because I just think his more prosaic works are useful (they are, still, if you adapt them to modern times) or because he was a special man (he was) and a poet (he was) and an accomplished outdoorsman, but because he lived-in spite of all the adversities and difficulties he found a way to live his life. So a Nessmuk, while being a practical design, always is a kind of statement to me, a tribute to the ol´man.

This one is made from 19th century crucible steel and that steel might actually have some of the same properties the Nessmuk knife´s steel originally had. The tang has yet to be drilled out for balance, and there is still some flaw on one side that I have to get rid of, but then it will be good, I guess...look forward to it.

Oh the loot! ;-) Or: The adventure of steel processing

I went foraging for steel again in my local woods, and was stunned to find a treasure hoard again. As you say-one man´s trash is another one´s treasure. In this case it applies in the truest sense of the word. A lot of the steel I keep finding there is ancient crucible or extremely high carbon tool steel or saw steel. I found a chisel with a kind of octagonal shape, and having already processed one of those, I strongly suspect it is made of a very funny kind of steel. Spark analysis on the Sica blade showed dark-red, almost invisible sparks-but with bright-white sparks at the end, and, compared to file and spring steel, very funny shapes. Fact is, I can´t make heads nor tails out of it. Might be Tungsten in it or any such like, but what matters most to me is that the blade I forged from it keeps to a good temper with a very fine grain and a high amount of flexibility. So I look forward to the next.

Yeah, I know. I might not be that good with metallurgical theory. I make knives that have to work, and if I want to work with stainless or other stuff I should know my theory better. Yeah, I know, but DO I? Do I have to?

I have to admit that a lot of my tempering is done very intuitively. Of course, sometimes I get it wrong and have to do it all over again or worse yet, the knife breaks when testing. But, honestly, the last time I broke a knife is 3 years ago, and I have made a lot of them in the meantime, and the times when I get it wrong (with steel utterly unknown to me) I can count on three fingers.

I do not want to brag about my oh-so-extraterrestrial capabilities in bladesmithing, because I am not that good. What I want to say is, that it is possible. I forged a blade out of 440C intuitively and it stood up to some severe pounding while keeping an edge well. I daresay that´s what it´s all about. To be honest, I thrive on the adventure. There is something very archaic about bladesmithing and I find it more intelligible when you do it intuitively. It is like getting to know the NAME of iron. Not just the word, but what it really means, if that makes any sense. It is like I can tell you the word blue, but you have to feel it to know the blue sky on a warm summer´s day.

Patrick Rothfuss in his novel "The Wise Man´s Fear" (which I strongly recommend!) tells the story of a teacher of the arcane teaching "names". Not what we commonly think, but the actual names, not the sign, but the meaning, if you get my erm... meaning;-). He states that he will throw a stone at a given time with a given force and asks his pupils to calculate where the stone will fall down. Several well- educated people then start to make calculations, drawing diagrams and the like. When time is out, the teacher just opens the door and calls on a messenger boy, and without further notice, throws the stone. and the boy catches it on an instinct.

I know a lot of accomplished blade- and blacksmiths who make great knives, strictly according to the book of rules. Some make very durable knives, but some don´t.

And then I know several old Russian blacksmiths. One of them even could up until recently not read the newspaper or write his own name. He uses scrap steel, even rebar for his knives, and they are standing up to an abnormal degree of abuse with amazing edge-holding capacity. Viktor used rebar, too, and mild steel, and scrap and junk steel to amazing effect, too. They taught me one thing: That there IS the name of iron. You could put a piece of rust-pitted steel into their hands, and just by touching it they knew what to do. When asked, they failed to give a satisfying answer and just said that it had to be that way. Mielenko knew his numbers well, but was capable to tell the carbon content by the sound the steel made on the anvil, by weight and resistance alone. None of his knives, he told me, has ever failed.

I am a poet. A lunatic, if you so will, beloved of the moon. I tell a lot of crazy tales. Only on a secondary level am I a blacksmith, bladesmith or even bushcrafter. Might be it is like a kid once told me that in a different world or different time I´d be called a wizard. I like that, of course, but we live in 2016, and the world's not at all a place for wizards or warriors or even blacksmiths.

I have been on this path for a long, long time now. I know the wind and what lies therein. I know the sun and the moon and the stars and I love them. I love the earth and the trees. I listen to creeks and the murmur of the wind in the "soft, round tops of the pines and firs". They tell me of another world, a world of meaning, without signs, but names to be learned.

And with each piece of iron I find in the woods, I tell a new story, and learn the name of iron and fire. My knives are always more than just a blade and a "been there, done that", at least to me. It is not just a thing you covet and because you can´t afford it, you make it yourself. Their names are an armour I wear in the everyday mayhem of our world, even if their blades lie in my drawers. They are the gift of the woods, tormented by man and crooked and weird and powerful. Beyond the dream road through the wood of steel - lord of the forest makes love to his goddess; beautiful is the image of the moon in the water (to corrupt this famous Bujinkan meme;-)).

Every time when I go foraging for steel then, it is a kind of spiritual experience. It is an initiation as well as a lesson in humility. When you find, you find. If not, you find not. But if you do it according to the meaning of it all, chance is, you will find a treasure.

Donnerstag, 4. Februar 2016

Semiotics of Camouflage - An essay on Skóggángr philosophy

The term skóggángr refers to being in the forest for exile. It has an affinity to spirituality, survival and martial arts, and I have established it to sum up an activity that´s not new, but has never been combined that way in a consequent manner.

The primary idea is that while the term "skóggángr" in the times of early Scandinavian medieval age and the so - called "Viking age" referred to the process of being banned from the community of man (which often equalled a death sentence), its modern use is somewhat different. It has to do something with keeping one´s psychological, mental and physical health, if not with bugging out and surviving.

According to my observations, many people in modern society suffer from more or less grave psychological problems. Most people in leading positions are arguably in very poor psychological condition, if not mentally ill. A big part of the population is living a life depending on the authority of phone and internet providers, product identities and fashions and are very much ruled  by antidemocratic forces. In Germany, clinical studies some years ago have depicted that every third person in modern German society suffers from burn-out depression or a similar mental disease. Personally, I´d rather say that every person in Germany does at one point or the other.

Skóggángr is a term for my very own, personal escape. It does in no way claim to be "the next big thing", and I want to beg of my readers to take it all "cum grano salis". It´s just a way of living - and fighting, or better yet, avoiding a fight, if  you so will. To me, it offers a strategy to survive a life that is not exactly easy and have fun with it.

It might be escapism or an escape strategy, and the difference in terminology does not matter at all here. As a "martial art", if it can be called that way, it is aimed at being primarily defensive, and secondarily aggressive. This means that escape is the first priority, and attack is prioritized secondary. If an attack is necessary, it should be done with control and precision and utter commitment to make sure the aggressor will not come back again. To achieve that, any defensive movement has to be linked to an attack.

To achieve defensive and aggressive efficiency, camouflage techniques play an important role. I am no master in that, I am a student myself, but as a student I want to start by laying my foundation. To properly evade a sick world, you also need a spiritual camouflage, by the way.

The key to successful camouflage is crypsis. To define what is done in crypsis, we have to define first what the situation is.

Human beings can process roundabout:

visual 10.000.000 Bit
skin/haptic 1.000.000 Bit
acoustic 100.000 Bit
olfactory 10.000 Bit
taste 1.000 Bit

This might sound quite impressive, but these are theoretical numbers. It is relatively safe to say that only 10 % of this amount of information are actually consciously processed. According to Hogrebe (1995: Metaphysik und Mantik) the procession is established via a telic process and an act of semantics. Semantics in this case refers to the process of creating references between sign and meaning i.e. semantic interpretation (see also Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce) in a psychological and physiological coherence. The telic process in itself is not logical, but fractally organized. What we can relatively safely assume is that every object or subject emits a lot of information. Some of this information is not received by humans in the first place due to biological limitations, most of it is dismissed and cached as subsemantic, and 10 % of the signalled, perceived and processed information is subjects to the process of semantic interpretation.

As individual sneaking through the forest you emit a lot of signs, you cannot help it in any way. Crypsis now has several ways to obscure these signals.

1.visual (optical) and acoustic camouflage such as mimickry
2.nocturnality
3.semiotic camouflage

1 refers to the commonly used camouflage techniques known from the military forces, which are inspired by nature: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_camouflage_methods. Signals are obscured by obscuring outlines, countershading, blending into surface signals, and other means of overlapping and contradicting information (see 3). The "grey man concept" is a good example of blending into a crowd and serves a good job in illustrating the principle. What you want to do is avoid creating an optical or semantic stimulus. In order to do that you blend into the environment, obscure your outline, avoid contrasts and send contradictory signals. Movement is dynamic and creates contrasts and rhythms that are perceivable way better than a static perception, so the resulting contrast has to be minimized as much as possible by smooth and slow movements that mimick natural movements such as branches moved by the wind or an animal moving through the underbrush.

2 refers not necessarily to a nocturnal lifestyle, but to make use of naturally diffuse lighting situations to obscure position or movement, a challenge with camouflage in general. Low light situations easily coincide with other camouflage techniques.

3 semiotic camouflage refers to a technique of manipulating signs emitted from an object to give the impression / interpretation of
a) irrelevance, and thusly hypnagogic / subsemantic reference
b) being non - existent
c) being a different object

While b and c are obvious, a has some implications to the philosophy of skóggángr, for while camouflage in this context is aimed to be mainly defensive, hypnagogic reference has more implications than that.

If we assume a discrepancy between sign and meaning, and assume the setting of signs as a semantic, telic and psychocreative process, that leaves us with a whole world of subsemantic processes  happening all the while. The so called process of "hypnagogic vision" (Hogrebe, 1995) is a technique to gain access to the subsemantic aspects of perception and also offers access to subconscious processes. Subsemantic perception, however, is just a dynamic part of the subconscious, but not disconnected from the rest. In that manner, if we see something that "strikes a note" but "cannot put the finger on it", it is relatively safe to say that we are faced with a subsemantic, subconscious process that has a whole lot of implications. In Crypsis, we want to appear irrelevant, so, spoken in a defensive sense of the technique, we want to appear irrelevant. The "gray man concept" makes use of this, and in woodland camouflage we want to
-move stealthily
-avoid sound
-use woodland colours, i.e. "Ghillie suit"
-appear "sanitized" in a woodland sense of the word, meaning creating no stimulus for animals or human aggressors
-not "mimick a bush, be a bush"

In Skóggángr I want to turn defence into an attack. This can be done in this context by sending paradox stimuli to the aggressor. There are toads using bright, vivid colours to imply that they are poisonous. In a similar manner you can try to look unattractive or stick to an environment no one in their right mind would voluntarily walk into: Swamp, rockslide etc. Looking "poisonous" in this context has to be handled a bit careful, for human aggressors will not stay away from you if you wear neon ;-).

I am practicing for something different that at the first glance sounds a bit weird. There is a connection between the subconscious and the subsemantic, which is a psychological commonplace. There is also a connection between concept (idea) and reality, or better yet, idea and physis / phenomenon. The idea is linked to the subconscious, which makes techniques like hypnagogic vision and reference possible in the first place. The subconscious is partly universal, when human beings are concerned. It takes root in the body and can have an effect on the body. This means, there are psychological implications made by subsemantic processes not prone to semantic perception, and these implications can have an effect on the body. Vision is a physiological property. This means, if you send psychologically relevant signals in a subsemantic manner, you can have a direct effect not only on the psyche but also on the body. Hypnagogia commonly refers to the state of "drowsiness" before sleep, but is used also to describe the state of mind in meditation and hypnosis. The laid Dr. Karl Pribram (2007)( http://www.scholarpedia.org/article/Holonomic_brain_theory) with his holonomic brain (perception) theory not only showed some heavy evidence of the  nonexistence of time and space in neuronal networking and in my understanding, the universally connected linking of the network, but also (in: Brain and Perception, Addenda) experimental evidence of the possibility of creating alpha brainwaves voluntarily. This is not a one-way street in that this "drowsyness" can be used in camouflage and mental attack techniques on the opponents psyche by using subsemantic key signals. To put it simple, you emit key signals that dazzle the opponent. In its simplest form it means confusing the aggressor, in a more sophisticated form inducing hypnagogia by using key signals, and, possibly attacking his own subconscious psyche via hypnagogia. You move from reality to idea and from idea to different reality, to put it down in a bit of an abbreviated manner.

This does not necessarily mean some metaphysical concept of magic, but, as Sun Tsi put it "knowing your enemy". To achieve this you have to keep a psychological journal of his behaviour and identify key signals. Those have to be combined in the common techniques of (sensible) hypnotism. To be quite plaintive, digital camouflage works along the same lines, but with physical properties.

I will talk about the more aggressive aspects of this theory in a future post and also give you some examples and insight into my hypnagogic training.



Donnerstag, 28. Januar 2016

Ahlhauser ironforge website online!



Roland had a fit of creativity;-) and set up a new site for our founding club. Visit:

www.ahlhauser-hammer.de

to get the static data and informations on founding (if you can find it in you to make a donation, feel free to do so!;-), we have a roof to put on and are desperately in need of funds. Any amount, however little helps and is put 100% into restoring the buildings and the historical machinery. Use the contact form on the website if you need a receipt!

Choose this bank account:

Ahlhauser Hammer
"Donation"
Märkische Bank Hagen
IBAN: Nr. DE48450600090066445600
BIC Nr. GENODEM1HGN

And, of course, if you´re in the vicinity, drop me a line, and I´ll show you around.

Donnerstag, 21. Januar 2016

Frozen lands

 Ice was gathering up on my window, and the beams cracked with cold; and the woods did call me to give me lessons of life. So I walked away from the hostile world of man into the realm of deadly winter... just some 100 m away from the warmth. A different world is waiting for those who can see it.
 Is this ice or a map of a land unseen? Winter is death, but without death there would be no life. We can witness what happens when people want to neglect and renounce the fact that all things must end... to blossom anew. If this is a map, it is alien to our sight. It shows not a path from here to there but a path of how and then.



This is the dew of winter; precious as the moon in a silvery night.


The stars rise even in the vine that throttles the fern; I quest the fern for the runes of the frost... the ancient Math ap Mathonwy did not know... ahem... too much more than I.;-D.. just a tiny bit maybe..;-D. or a tiny bit more...ANYWAY:-D, what I find there is no speech that can refer.


The trees were swaying in a silent breeze, stone-cold, bone - cold, sawy, toothy, gritty as sand, and yet there was a gentle, silent song echoing in my soul.


Somewhere twilight, twilight falls...


Night is nearing while there is still light.


And yet, besides the holly, the old well springs up warmly from the bosom of the deep and dark soil.



Winding paths I  walked through woods all crooked...


Where does the moon wander when the night is dark?


Where does the river flow, two ways at once?

Twilight falls.

Remake of an old Puukko

 Now this knife had been on my shelf for quite some years now gathering dust, and if knives do so, I ask myself why they do so. In this case I tested the blade again (crucible steel / file steel Damascus, 40 layers) and found it well enough, but the handle (walnut with a copper ferrule) felt awkward, because it was oddly shaped and far too much out of proportion. So out comes the hacksaw and I shortened it and fitted a butt cap out of yew. Since this is no machete, no need for peening the tang over it, and the glue stands up to the same tensile force as construction steel, so I just epoxied it on.
Now I like it far better, and it´s waiting for a sheath... it´s a good whittler and will serve well for a bimble round the local woods, if not for a bigger outing.

Stainless by accident;-)

 So, this is a typical Fimbulmyrk´s - gone - over - the - top-story. A knife that´s stainless by accident. I already told the tall tale of how I first thought this one to be Damascus and it turned out 440C and that I did not trust it that much and stuff. Now, with a maple handle fitted (mosaic pins, just love ´em), I have already done some testing.
The blade is somewhat on the sturdy side of slicey, ahem;-), but cuts well enough due to the high convex, almost flat grind to almost zero. It devours tomatoes and slices thin slices of onions and salami. Feather sticks are a joy. Chopping antler shows no adverse effects, it just feels right... and the balance point and ergonomics are right there. I like it.

And this is the real reality check.

It has a fine enough grain, it does almost everything my crucible, Damascus, spring, file and tool steel knives do, but is stainless in the bargain. Of course you can seldom find 440C by the roadside, but thinking of that I have made fun out of stainless steel for over a decade... I have to apologize, not that sincerely, but still:-). You can make it work, actually. Really, you can.:-) And I haven´t grown rashes, either. Of course, you can get a slightly sharper blade with carbon steel, but most people would not even notice. It shaves and cuts funny patterns out of free-hanging newspaper, what more do you want?

As I said, for a bushcraft knife, this might be one way to go in the future... but we will see.

Donnerstag, 14. Januar 2016

Why Tai Goo is a master;-)


Yeah, of course I am not always agreed with the guy (I was taught to use different techniques), but here´s some real bladesmith porn...;-) enjoy.

Sica and the 440C mishap

 Also on the bench these days are two obsessions of mine... the lower knife in the pic is another experiment with handle ergonomics and blade layout. I had one strange billet still lying around from the days of Matthias Zwissler, and it seemed to be monster Damascus. Okay, I looked forward to it and forged it out into a seax blade, a small billet and this bush design. When forging it, it proved a bastard with just a very small forging temperature window, and blimey was I glad to have a power hammer at hand! So, I looked forward even more to it, and normalized it for drilling and grinding, and did all the usual stuff I do to carbon steels, but-bummer, it did not work. I dulled my cobalt drills, and even my glass drill I normally use for weekend project blades that are already tempered did not move any material at all. So, back to the drawing board, some more annealing, and when I was at it I thought... well, why not punch it through, and with a bit of help by Moritz, hot-punched the holes, did some annealing (5 hours at about 600 ° C or so), until I could work it with a file all over. Then I ground it into shape and gave it a selective quench in pre-heated lard. Off to the polish then. It worked down my water stone, so I used the diamond strop instead. And grinding. And grinding. And when I was done grinding I did some more grinding with little effect. I was becoming eager and wanted to do a quick etch with salt, vinegar and citric acid. No pattern showed. Okay, I said, give it a coffee... no effect. But it was only after I had left it in 24 hours (normally ten minutes or so...) that I realized that this was no carbon steel. Since the only stainless steel Matthias had ever used was 440C, I guess the knife is 440C. Spark analysis shows a carbon content of 07-1,00% or so when compared to spring and file steel. First stainless steel for me, and I am surprised and pleased to see it gets a fine edge and seems sturdy enough to take a beating. Might be more stainless blades then for me in the future... I plan to fit some striped maple or elk horn handle with fibre liners and mosaic pins to it and give the blade some engraving and polishing. We´ll see.

The next one  is a very interesting style of historical knife. I found a historical piece of crucible steel in the woods that once seemed to have been a cold chisel, and it has a carbon content of about 0,7-1,00%, too, when compared to file steel and spring steel. I have always called this blade shape a "Kopis", but morphologically it is more correct to call it a Sica, a knife made famous by Dacian people in the iron age. There is a whole world of variations, the one thing in common is that they offer one sickle-like edge (the word "sickle" derives from Roman "sicula"-tiny sica). The earliest examples from the Hallstatt period (from 890BC) are often strongly curved with little or no straight tip section. Later on the tip section was becoming more pronounced for some examples resulting in a shape more like the blade I forged. The integral bolster is not authentic, at least I do not know any examples of this, and this would be logical if you keep in mind how precious iron, and more so, high-carbon iron of good quality had been at the time.

Look at these excellent articles (in Romanian language):

http://www.enciclopedia-dacica.ro/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=709%26Itemid=377

http://www.enciclopedia-dacica.ro/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=734%26Itemid=402

http://www.enciclopedia-dacica.ro/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=741%26Itemid=409

http://www.enciclopedia-dacica.ro/?operatie=subiect&locatie=armele&fisier=observatii_asupra_unei_variante_de_falx_dacica

It is a most fascinating type of knife and I plan to do more of that stuff... watch this place!




German backwoods knife

 Hi there and a happy new year to y´all! I had a good time in my holidays, but with no smithing, and had no motivation to shoot any pictures for an article of riding or the hikes I did. What I did, however, is spending some time with the projects on my bench, and this is one I like a lot actually. What I tried to do is incorporate the Jagdnicker design into something more buscrafty and combine it with some thoughts I was inspired to by medieval knives and swords at the Solingen museum. The knife has a wider blade than most making for a high grind line and good slicing capabilities. For the traditional technique "ringeln" (German hunting colloquial for a special technique to remove the intestines via the anus of game, mostly roe deer, with the help of a kind of curling cut) it would be not so ideal, but few hunters do practice this nowadays in the first place, and I am no hunter in the second place. I mostly use knives for whittling, preparing food and harvesting, and for that a wide blade with a good balance does the job well enough.
Speaking of balance-the blade has a very distinct taper from a hefty 10 mm towards the bolster to just a mm at the tip. While it is no prybar, it is surprisingly well suited for prying. I have to add a buttcap (I plan to do it in brass, bronze or silver with some engraving), and hope to get the balance point on the index finger. This is a very delicate process few will appreciate, but in my book it´s well worth the effort. There are a lot of knives on the market with hefty looks and awkward balance, and I want to learn to do it right. Having had the opportunity to handle some good historical pieces it never ceases to amaze me how well-balanced even smaller knives were. I made this one for myself and I like to handle the knives I make while completing them. I have already doen some kitchen work with it. It is an able cutter and chopper at the same time as is and feels nimble and dexterous. The handle is relatively short. With just a tiny shift of grip the pommel will come to sit in the middle of my palm. Sometimes, when hunting (if I were so inclined, that is;-)) you need to apply force with a thrusting motion (Opening the pelvis, for instance), and this would be a good feature to have. But I am still figuring it all out. I write this because the nuances are fascinating me, not because I know it all;-).

The handle is stag antler and might see some carving, blade is 11,5cm x 10-1mm taper, spring steel, selective temper and forged at low temperature and then carburized, the grind is a very high convex bevel.

Mittwoch, 16. Dezember 2015

Over old hills and far away;-) - RIDE.

 Yesterday the weather was fine and the hills were calling violently. Now it has been some time since I just went on a ride into the foothills of the Sauerland, just so, just to ride, and it was about time.

Now with my new bike that carves like a razor I felt very much motivated and just put on my helmet and riding gear, made me a flask of tea and off I pedalled. I had to cover some distance to even reach the woods, for the trailhead is on the other side of the city, and the city at Chrismas sucks big style, but as soon as I hit the trail... aaahh. Silence.
 The creek that runs alongside the trail contributed to the peaceful atmosphere. It was very warm, what with the sun shining. The trails were grimy and slippery, and I realized my riding technique has deteriorated a lot since I last rode singletrails in winter. But it felt simply great to  be able to be outside and do some trails just for the fun of it. I will do quite some more riding, I guess, over the holidays. I usually put a lot of energy into very prosaic tasks and usually it ends in a catastrophe. Might be I should put some more effort into having some plain old fun...;-)
 It was not just that yo, jibbaman, yo-feeling. It´s not about wearing fancy attire and riding a great bike-business as usual you´d say, when I say it´s about the woods again. Of course it is, but there´s still more to it. It is different to when you go for a hike, it hardly can be intelligently described.
 Like this, see? How can I possibly explain to those who cannot refer to that feeling you have when you have ridden uphill on a technical trail and come to a clearing, wide open and all, and look over the distant valley and see those rolling hills, that roll, wave on wave, until one is the last that cuts the sky? The shadows were long...

And the sun shone with golden rays.

 On the hilltop I sat down...
 ...and had a sip of good strong tea.
Birds were singing in the grove. Felt more like spring than midwinter.

Then it was dropping the seat and give the beast a thrashing down the singletrail, slime-surfing, and I realized I was grinning wide and hooting and hollering the bike around the corners. It´s just if you have ridden a good bike before, and now you sit on an excellent one, and you realize you slam into an off-camber turn full tilt with a note of fear and all of a sudden you are already around it with no twitch or losing traction. Then you hit the next turn even faster and wonder where the limit of this beast actually might be? It was big fun again, and boy, I could not wipe that grin out of my face, even through the ride home through a city contaminated with madmen in  a Chrismas frenzy. On the ride home I got ten threats of getting my face rearranged just because I was on a bike and riding at the same speed as the cars in the traffic jam, one attack, and too many insults and foul language than I´d care to mention, but even so I was singing and grinning. The festival of love, you know...

I do this riding stuff  far too seldom, and I guess I have to change that.

In the thicket

 The sun was up and the weather was warm, and I was fleeing the city again for  a hike into the woods. I walk into the deepest woods, through thicket and underbrush to seek for solitude and a tiny shred of peace from the everyday mayhem of our world. And it never ceases to astound me how fast all the ruckus subsides as soon as you pass that threshold, subtle, yet distinguished, that last frontier of sense.

For in the forest it is that there indeed is violence, and injustice, and the strong prey on the weak... but all in a complex coherence of sense. Not in an arbitrary and mad manner, but to ultimately propel the wheel of life and creation. There is a room for violence as well as beauty, there is peace alongside the fox hunting the hare. I often think that there are dangers involved in treading the solitary paths I tread-but I think I´d prefer being eaten by some unknown predator or wild pig to living a life amidst all these hipster management types. At least they won´t make a fuss out of it and have a genuine reason;-). But I don´t want to focus on that, for the silence is deep and peace and solitude always do their job on me.
Through sun-enchanted woods I walked, and came across that fire road. Here in the shadow it was cold, and it was for once to be felt that it is actually December. Other than that it could be barely felt that we have winter. I was walking in a T-Shirt and a light jacket and even so built up a sweat!
But it became dark early, and I welcomed the twilight...
Along those green meadows to the wide open space beyond the forest...
...and where I suspected it the least...

...behind a thicket there was a tiny hunter´s path, nearly overgrown, and there it was: An obviously well-maintained and cared-for cabin, well stocked with firewood. I´d love to have one for myself...

...but fact is, I have none and won´t be able to afford one in the first place. So I put that thought into my mental drawer labelled "dreams" and went on my merry way;-).
The woods...
...have always been enough. And when twilight falls, I am right there, at home. When the wind moves through the soft treetops of spruce and fir, my cradle song I hear...

...and my heart is soothed, however searing my wound had been beforehand.

Donnerstag, 3. Dezember 2015

The Nightmare of the North - a skóggangr trail of twilight


 Strong is the call that is rising beyond the boundaries of the cities. From tree and grove and wood and hill there is this song that rises with the mist. Autumn had come, and stayed with colours and some warmer days; harvest has been and time did pass.



And from green hills there rise the mists. Few now know the song that rises from beneath the dark, rich soil. Few are wise enough to fear that time. And even fewer are those that still know how to tread that trail of twilight.


Into the murky woods I ventured, deep beyond the world of man, not space, nor time, that song I followed, a song like valiant steel and violent roar; and yet, but faintly is it heard.

The mists of time are blown away here and thence. No time fathomed by man is that song, nor space, not dream nor fancy, and yet it lives with thrumming vibration. Is it a fairy song, is it alvish lore? Is there death or is there life? The river runs two ways; three wells they foam with life and death, three mills they grind, grind endlessly.

Into the twilight, as I did so often before, but now I walked with new and deadly earnest. I walked deep into the darkness and the murk - to unbecome human.



The sun, that bright lantern of everyday business, sank beneath the veil of woods, of hill, of earth.


...and mists rose up to give the light a gentle goodbye in a flaming cold embrace.


From hill and dale and crevice deep they rose, rose like mist with lips as pale as frostbite flowers, rose with grace alien to man. No word was spoken, no song was heard.


And from afar I heard the faint murmur of a despairing world.


I did not look behind, I did not try to find a clue nor thought. I left the rags of my mortality behind, beneath the shroud of dancing mists. I walked on and further up the pathway and through a gate unfathomable even by a poet´s mind.

Horror unseen and terror unfathomed, joy and riches, wealth without measure strewn at their feet, unnoticed, undesired. The mists were cold, and the song grew louder, louder, more intense.


The fading light blurred all things living in favour of those who had never lived and live in spite.


Up rose the crescent of the moon above the blood-red light.


Above the twilight trail it shone serenely; and beyond the world the gates - they tremble:

On a haggard horse of silken midnight the nightmare rides on flaming hooves; high the song arises, louder still above the fields of battle, above the clamour, the outcries of pain and hate.

On a raven horse of midnight the nightmare rides from grove and creek, from hill and dale and silent rock; on a steed of darkness she rides. Blood she drinks from poets´skulls; ragged cloak of darkness´fabric, of twilight, iron, leaf and tree.

Out she rides from the three wells; their yarn has been combed, and cleaned, and spun. The sickle, silver light and crescent sharpness, rises up to cut. From spool and wheel and teasel their thread unrolls and spins... she moves the wheel of thirteen spokes to cut the thread, untie the knots, knots that bind, bind flesh to soul.

On a haggard horse of midnight she rides out on winter storms, on mist and trail. The eagle owl, the wolf, the raven feel the scent of death she leaves lying beside the flaming hooves.

From forest deep and canyon, from creek and hill and dale - up rise the violent mists. The gate it clashes and opens wide; out rides the nightmare from the three wells.

On  a haggard horse of burning midnight out rides the nightmare, the protector of the woods.

On a raven horse of midnight, the river flows two ways; three wells with fury overflow. The curse it rises to the leaden sky, the curse in tri- fold incantation is woven into her cloak, her sickle and her spear, in sword and poisoned arrow, the curse it weaves into the water, into the soil, the sky, the wind; the curse it rises on a midnight horse.

On a haggard horse of midnight out rides the nightmare, the protector of the woods.

Serenely the moon shone above the trail of twilight.

Stunned and smiling silently in stealth I left the mist - enchanted woods and the dreamlike fancy, knowing.

And unbecoming human.

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