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Dienstag, 29. März 2011

Forging a Bowie-my first "big" one

 I am normally not overly fond of big blades like bowie knives, and I think that one george Washington Sears (Nessmuk) or John Palliser are absolutely right in preferring lighter, thinner, shorter blades. Also, I cannot see why I should make knives making exclusively sense as a fighter. So I was not quite enthusiastic when a friend of Volker´s, Holger, wanted to forge a bowie for western reenactment for his birthday, and on his party at the Bethaus in Witten. He wanted to pay me for it, and I had a use for some cash;-), so I am a whore, too, sometimes;-). Got some Mercedes leaf spring from Henry´s, a friend of mine and making a living by selling old cars. he always has some wreckage around and is no stranger to some hammer bashing, too. 
Got the leaf spring, some one metre twenty long, and packed it in my backpack, Then it was ride my bike with the thing protruding out of my rucksack to Witten. The lane was quite crowded, and I got some really queer looks, I can tell you;-).

When I came to Volker´s smithy, there were already birthday guests, all dressed up. Had a cuppa coffee (thanks, Volker and Sylvia and Jochen!!!!) amidst all the guests. There was a lady in the chamber practicing the accordeon, and I loved her music. We had some talk and it turned out she was a studied musician who lost here eyesight only but recently and is now legally blind. It was quite a difficult time for her, but it turned out her musical ability actually ifr not profited, but changed. She cannot read the partitures anymore. She has to feel, and do it intuitively. Without knowing the facts, I found her music enchanting. We talked a lot about art in general, and the way it profits from feeling it, from intuition, not simple craft, and our conversation inspired me a lot. Sometimes you pass by people, and they influence you, simply by their presence. I do not even know her name, but I have a very great respect for this person.

I then met another old smith, Mielenko bednasch, A Russian blacksmith. he his over 75 years old and still takes orders. He showed me some of his works, and I was simply amazed. I will feature him in a separate post soon.

It was under these impressions that I started to forge my first fighting knife, quite a contrast at first look, but I believe that fighting implements should be (or shall be) not just fighting implements, not just tools to kill, but, as the Japanese have a saying, be a "one sword of life, one sword of death". This is the reason, in my opinion, that any warrior shall learn how to take the sword in hand to defend the crop he has sowed or to defend the weak. And, this is more important, if danger is warded off, he has to put the sword in its place on the wall and resume sowing his seeds, resume his art, and care for life, and heal. Every warrior should be able to heal, and to create, to counterweigh the destruction he has to inflict upon the aggressor. I believe weapons are the last means to protect the weak or oneself. If taken to hand, a warrior should not hesitate to destroy his enemy utterly, not as long as the bat of an eyelid should his reflection take, ere he kills. If he has to detsroy, he shall do it utterly, so that danger will never rise again. But if he destroys, he should build anew also. For any life he has taken he should plant new life, and resume to plough. Or to play music, or to heal, or to create in general.

Holger came, and I had some talk with him, and I showed him how to use the sledge, and he forged part of the edge alone. I corrected some of the dents, and forged the hind part of the edge. The blade came out a bit like the "Musso bowie", and I gave it some balancing. I just let it cool during annealing and played it some in my hand and I closed my eyes. I did some grinding and some more forging, keeping in mind the weight of the bolster and the scales and the drillings and fittings. It was agreat help to me closing my eyes while playing it. I then edge-quenched it and did the final grind. It now has a whippy feel to it, like a sword would, and it is an evil slasher as is. But then weapons shall be evil. It was a very mind - consuming work, and I did not sleep well that night.

I then gave it to Holger and tested it on nails and with a file, let it smash on a concrete floor from a height of 1,5 m, slammed it over a round piece of wood with the broad side up and put it in a vice, hitting the handle with a 1,5 kg hammer. Holger was impressed that it shaved ("just as it should", he said) and looked quite satisfied with his birthday present;-).

Then it was straight to the kitchen, where I delved deep into the delicious dishes Jochen, the cook of the Bethaus was not tiring to offer me. It was lamb in a delicious wine sauce, a cabbage porridge and potatoes in roasted with rosemary, seven different kinds of cheese, and table water as a drink, and coffee, and soft drinks and all I could dream of. I was very grateful, for it was a delicious experience. We had some good natured talk along my mealk, and Jochen and I discussed a great variety of things philosophical and biographical. It was late in the night, about 1 o´clock, when I left and rode home over a completely deserted bike lane. I had many things to think over, some violent, some gentle, some mundane, some philosophical, some hopeless, and some hopeful. I guess this is the stuff life is- simply and obviously made of.


Now go on, discuss and rant and push my ego;-). As long as it´s a respectful message, every comment is welcome!

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