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Mittwoch, 16. Mai 2012

A visit to Mielenko and Eva

 On Sunday, Kai, his girlfriend Marie and myself met to have a cuppa and a cake at the various smithies and museums in the Muttental. We first went to the Zeche Nachtigall for a visit to Mielenko. Thanks to the musuem staff who let us shoot some photos of the master and his apprentice, Eva, again, and thanks to them both, who wrmly welcomed us and proudly showed us their newest works of art. Most impressive was that firebasket in the picture above, all handforged. They make ´em in 6 mm mild steel basketwork, solidly riveted, with an ash hole at the bottom and lids and barbecue acessories alike and sell the basic kit at 180,00 €, which is a bargain.
 I found the detail work on those leafs totally awe-inspiring. Some of them are heat-blued and they look as close to real as possible.
 This is a snake made by Eva. She heat-blued it and did a ball-peen finish, all of which makes for the impression of it being alive! Really schweeeet;-), if you ask me...
 detail of the body...
 The head. Note the detailled work on eyes and snout. Eva is making huge progresses, and I want to express my sincere respect again for what she and her master do. And they do it, because they believe in blacksmithing. This makes all the difference in my book, and it certainly is an attitude one can pause to think about. The difference between a craftsman and an artisan lies in the details.
 This is a leaf Eva made (mild steel.), and I am really lost for words. It inspires me a lot, and it inspires me to try harder.
 A cobra by Mielenko.
 Detail of the cobra. Note how the body goes on beneath the neck shield, and the peen finish!
 More intriguing leaf work by Eva.
 ...and some feathers by Eva, too.
 The master at work. Mielenko is a highly skilled artisan of Russian/Ukranian origin. He not only has skills no middle European can even claim to have learned, but he also is a very friendly guy and a master with social skills to bott. With just one sentence he manages to tutor me for months of practice!

My deepest respect goes to him, for his skills as an artisan, but for being a great man no less!
 That´s what happens when blacksmiths meet, always-techtalk and dreaming up new projects! It was simply great to stand there in the sun and exchange some friendly talk and visons of new and old projects.
 Eva examines Kai´s latest works and gives valuable input on how to do it better...
 Then it was back to work again.

 At the forge, which got a visor over the winter.
 ...the master...
 ...and his signet. This is the haft of one of his hammers. If you can tell a smith by his hammer, I leave the interpretation up to you, what this means;-).
 ...hammers galore. The one in the background has a weight of 5 kg and he uses it as a hand hammer.
 This is a detail of a long knife Mielenko calls a "Bowie", but I suspect it more of a traditional Russian form with a so - called "Pandur" tip. It´s a similar design, though. It is made of his own damascus which in some applications has over 1000 layers. 1000 layers? Beg your pardon, what about decarbonization? Mielenko uses a technique that is seldom used. He forges out a spatula and layers in high carbon steel, and repeats the process until the desired number of layers is achieved. The result is impressive. He smashed it into a mild steel blank and bashed on the spine with a hammer, with a brutality even I would not do to my blades. Need I mention there was no harm done to the blade?  
 The blade in total.
 Oh yes, and this is a hammer rest!;-) A simple tool rest, anyone?;-)
 Those mouses I found exceedingly funny, for they were mounted on stands that rocked;-)... so...see?*ggg*
 This is a device to set the tang of knives or the tails of the mouses. Mielenko emphasized the importance of a smith making his own tools, and I hope to follow this advice more as I did before.
 ...smithing idyll....
 This is a hammer at work Eva made from an old one.
She simply forged out the middle to get a better balance and then tempered the tool anew. There´s an inspiration if there ever was one;-)!!!

We then ventured on to Volker´s place to have a cuppa and a piece of cake...

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