Donnerstag, 28. März 2013

The raven´s day...

 Yesterday I simply wanted to get out of the city, and thus I took the bus to the hills. When I was just seated, someone called my name, and who stood there? Harald, the guy who taught me the very beginnings of the real side of the craft. He corrected my scrollwork, showed me many projects, and last but not least showed me how to forge-weld the steel. Once we worked together in a museum, where we both fared not too well. I was mobbed out, and he was kept low. An accomplished craftsman, all he was told to do was ridiculous work. If he did a good job, he was yelled at. It´s not my opinion alone, it was also stated in an article in the Hephaistos, a blacksmith´s magazine where the museum was called the "Phantasialand der geknechteten Handwerker" (event park of enslaved craftsmen). Anyway, Harald had a hard time, and was sick for a long time, and I put a lot of energy into him which ultimately lead to a break in our relationship, for I could not help him in any other way. I respect him, for he managed to get a hold on his problems. We had a chat of old times together and a cuppa coffee, and he showed me a striker knife he made from chainsaw chain damascus after a drawing I made long ago. By the way, the writing are hieratic runes I developed long ago... as a writing version of the carved Futhark rune forms. The knife he made is not exactly the one on the sketch, but I like it nonetheless. have to do it myself soemtime soon! We talked a bit longer about this and that, about dreams and pains and plans on life, and then I went on my merry way. I hope Harald will continue on the great path he is on, and I hope we can do this again sometime. Maybe we will meet in the smithy, where this guy simply belongs, and it´s my turn now to give something back.
 The hills called loudly. Winter is still restinging heavily upon the snow-ravaged-land, but spring is already on the way. The sun shone, not warm yet, but sun it was.

 Into those snowy woods I went, still in winterly, deadly silence... but this silence was broken by the tweeting of some birds already fluttering around and calling to the sky for spring to come.
 Dark it rests still, the cloak of the ancient, ice-cold lord, but the golden bough is sprouting already. Everywhere plant´s hips were sprouting, and there was an atmosphere of a violent breakthrough in spite of all the ice.
 The creek was singing aloud under the veil of ice that still covers its waters.
 Towards the lake I came, that lake I passed along so many times, where I passed my childhood and the days of my youth, and as often as I have seen it, so many faces did it bear. Never did it look the same, and the older I get, the more I see it with a sense of awe. I have never travelled far, have not seen many countries, but I have seen the worlds within the world, the multiplying faces of nature that never get to any end, that spring forth with violent vigour...;-)(alliteration is fun).
And as I walked on, the trail besides the lake, I came to the hillside of the birch grove I like so much, deep in thought and in a sense of wonder, and I bowed towards the four places of the wind and the law of the universe, and to the spirits, and the forces of the land, when in the distance I heard two raven croak, and it was a hair-rousing experience, in a good sense of the word. Oh, I remember, and I think, and thus Huginn and Muninn might fly within my soul...
 I sat there, on top of the hill, and time passed, or not, and I meditated on past and the flow of time, on the burden of the years and the dance of youth within my step that´s springy still, but nearing old age with every stride.
 I drank a cuppa tea, and let the sun sink, sink lower still...

And through the twilit woods I made my way home.

First Forging Session of the season@Industriemuseum Ennpetal on 7th April

On 7th April, Willy, myself and many others will meet at the Industriemuseum Ennepetal again for the first Hammer-In of the season. There will be a historical automobile show, a crucible demonstration, handmade cake, sausage, bread and coffee alike, friendly people, and we will do demos of blacksmithing, knifemaking and history of iron culture in the region. Might be I´ll have a go at the "Knopmetz" project.

If you are around, you are welcome to pay us a visit!

On the bench: Leaf handled knives

Now life´s not at all a cheesecake all the time*ggg*, and you can´t make damascus all the time, so here they come: Three new leaf - handled knives out of spring steel, all around 12 cm long (meaning they´re a legal carry), with no stock removal to date. When done, they will have seen the grinding machine for less than 1%, meaning little heating and little loss of temper. All are between 3,4 and 4 mm thick, the middle, which shall be a chopper, being the thickest. These knives are generally extremely rugged and versatile, and the handle is surprisingly comfortable to work with. They are also fun to make and require little energy, and sometimes it´s just refreshing to make something a little less challenging to put up to the next challenge with a fresh mindset.

Learning by failing:-/- three-layer laminate from wrought iron and 1.2842 that went not so good...

 On Saturday I made it to the smithy and had a go at some welding practice, and I had this piece of wrought iron Elmo once gave to me. Now Elmo wants a knife for her birthday present;-) and I thought I´d give it a go. Had little borax, but I thought I´d try it nonetheless.
 This is how I normally forge-weld. I forge a spatula, fold it back with the help of my hardy chisel and insert the first layer. Then it is a bit of a balancing act, but it usually works quite well. Harald Schmehl, my first blacksmithing teacher, taught this technique to me, and Viktor and Mielenko do it in the same manner. Normally, when I make damascus, I fold the steel several times, insert a new piece of high-carbon-steel and fold some more. The advantage is that you can get a damascus with high layers without too much loss of carbon content due to burnoff, it does not require many tools and it is good for your coordination skills;-). The definite disadvantage is that it requires a fair amount of eggdancing;-) to get the first layer done, and each time you insert a fresh piece of carbon steel. It welded okay, only in the fold there were some two or three millimetres. The shadow in the pic you can see is overlap. What I noticed, however, was that the wrought iron required an extremely high temperature to weld, and the 1.2842 was not amused;-).

Nonetheless, it came along quite nicely, and I forged this Kopis shape to the blade, nicely centered and all, and I was quite enthused, when I had ground the scale off and noticed the beautiful structure.

Then I put it in a vice to engrave it.

BUMMER! When I set the chisel to it, the blade broke in two, and I could see a structure of extremely coarse grain, visible even with a naked eye. I can tell, you, I got a mediocre tantrum!;-)

But it´s defeat also where I can learn. Simply got too hot... and I guess I´ll use more Borax next time. And the magic troll might get a beautiful awl... who knows...;-)

Fimbulmyrk and The Glücksschmied at TFH university Bochum

 Last Thursday we forged @Georg Agricola University of technical studies. The event was scheduled by the AStA, the student´s organisation. The pictures, except the last two ones, are courtesy of them. We set up forge and started early and soon the first students dropped by to help with a project: We forged a chain to symbolize the unity of cultural diversity at the university. We forged against racism, but primarily we forged for unity and to illustrate one fact:

The world is round;-). No use throwing nuclear bombs at each other, you´ll get to swallow the poison as well. No use hating each other, and extinguishing each other with ABC arms. If you have to kill, take blades or clubs, doesn´t do so much harm to the habitat;-). Kidding aside, in my opinion, there are no better "races" than others. There´s a multitude of ethnies on the planet, and a multitude of cultures. Some I can get along with nicely, some I can´t get along as nicely, but that´s my fault as well as that of the other culture, in fact. I might even have a conflict with this or that individual, and even questions concerning aspects of a culture. But, and that´s the culprit, there´s no such thing as a "master race".

 Blacksmithing in my opinion does a lot to promote the understanding of cultures. In most any culture on the planet, there are blacksmiths of one or the other kind. Knifemaking is another matter. The knife is the one cultural property which is continuous in every country and every human culture on the planet. Making and using knives is part of our humanity, and blacksmithing is a huge part of this. Now to most people it would be a bit questionable to make knives to illustrate the unity of cultures*ggg*, so we forged a chain instead. Each visitor forged one link in the form of a double swan´s neck, big or small, eloquent or ambitious, and we as blacksmiths linked them together by a humble and simple O-link.
 For Volker it was the first time ever he forged such double swan´s necks himself, and I respect him highly for the fact that he not only learned to make them in ten minutes, but also how to tutor the students into making them.
 There was a steady flow of people forging with high enthusiasm, some of them very good at the work. We even met a learned blacksmith who did a most eloquent piece, of course all by himself. We had a nice chat and invited him to the smithy.
 Students were having fun, obviously, and it was a great atmosphere. The weather was foul, but the forge roared red!
 Then the chief chairman of the university dropped by and was enthused to make a piece all by himself, and he did quite an amazing job!
 By the way, it was good to see the students making nasty comments;-) on his work, and he was paying them back with the same coin, in a friendly manner. Tells a lot about the human quality of studying at TFH university....
 After some three hours work, this is what came out: Some 2,5 m of chain, with a great diversity of styles in the work. Volker could not resist forging a snail as a link, too;-), which you can see on the anvil´s top.

All in all, a good day´s work, with friendly people and for a good cause, in my opinion. We will see if we have seen the last of it;-) but that´s another story and shall be told on another occasion.

Mittwoch, 20. März 2013

Muttentalfest party on 24th of March at the Bethaus, Muttental

On 24th of March we will do a big party, the first of this year;-). At the Bethaus, we will celebrate the famed "Muttentalfest" from 11 am until 6 pm. The whole valley will offer a load of activities for kids, adults and families alike, and all of the museums will be open.

Good food, friendly people, and, hopefully, great weather ;-) will be abundant, and most important, Volker and myself will be there*ggg*.

Come around, have a coffee and a cake and a chat!:-)

Fimbulmyrk and the Glücksschmied forging against racism and fascism@ Georg Agricola University, Bochum

On 21st of March, Volker and myself willl do a blacksmithing demo and an action against racism and fascism on Georg Agricola University Bochum campus. 

Visitors will forge a double swan´s neck chain link that will hopefully become a long chain that we will present to the university as a symbol of unity of cultures.

If you are near, don´t hesitate to drop by and do some forging against hate and ultimately against the rout of mankind.

Racism exists in all cultures, but there is one simple phrase that could extinguish all of it, if only people would realize:

The earth is round. 

Everything comes full circle. Everything you do will come back to you. You can do what you want, as long as you do no harm. If you have to do harm, do twice good. If you hurt someone, heal in turn.

And as this is so, the chain will become full circle to symbolize the eternal brotherhood of man, blessed by iron, fire and wind, by earth and water.

And iron will prevail.

Dienstag, 19. März 2013

Yet another blog I follow;-)

Now this is a blog by a person who really keeps inspiring me in a big way. It´s Petr Florianek, aka Gullinbursti, an artist from the Czech Republic. He now has a blog, and I really recommend it!

This is an example of his work:

Another day in the smithy-Damascus mayhem;-) and something archaic

 On Saturday it was a bladesmithing day again. You know that kind.... you wake up, see that the weather´s foul, and then you sit there drinking your morning coffee, and start thinking. Might be you read a blade magazine or any such like, and out comes the sketchbook and  you start drawing, and thinking some more. One phone call later I was packing my pack with 40 kg of smithy and straddling my steed and off I was to Volker´s place. I virtually met noone on my way to the shop, weather was that foul, albeit quite warm. I had a nice chat with the old man;-) and before you could say "degasing" the forge was alit and the coal was coking, and I started some projects.
 Top to bottom: Zwissler damascus, 15N20 and 1.2842. Then I tried something out: An Andronovo / Sintashta replica out of silicon bronze, which amazed me a bit. It was the first time I forged bronze, and okay, I was one of those techno weenies always crying out "bronze is way too soft for blades". I used a combination technique of hot- and cold forging, and achieved quite a sensible hardness. If you work-harden bronze, you get a useable hardness, definitely on a par with a conventionally treated mild steel. It came in as a bit of a surprise. Of course, you won´t get the edge-holding capacity of highly tempered steel, but the knife got sharp enough to achieve a serviceable edge for woodcarving, making fuzz sticks and even batoning through a piece of dried ash with but minor damage. Plus, I find it really good looking. The next one in line is an own wire damascus. Next lies a piece of wire damascus that ultimately (hopefully) will become a Naalbindning-needle for the magic troll. Aaaand, something I am quite fond of, a folder blade out of Zwissler damascus, 1.2842 and 15N20, for some kind of friction folder. I plan on doing something with liners this time, maybe even with integral bolsters... we´ll see how it goes;-).
 Closeup of the bronze knife. I used it some, and already did some servicing. If the need arises, you can maintain the edge by polishing with a smooth piece of haematite, or by work-hardening some more, as it was done with scythes.
 I forged the spine somewhat thicker and finished the blade with a ball peen.
It was a bit of an eye-opener. I daresay bronze IS inferior to steel, of course it is, but bronze was in use for a long time, and by cultures whose individuals gave their tools quite a beating. But this led me to some thoughts about ultimate hardness. For use in the woods, the edge has to be harder than herbs, rope, hardwood, softwood, meat, and hide, i.e. the material you need to cut and process. You do not always need a harder knife. It´s good, but not absolutely necessary, to use the knife in one edge condition for more than one work. Many indigenous people use knives out of utter crap, as traffic signs (Papua).

This is not to say I will from now on only use bronze. Steel is definitely better suited for the task. But as a reality check, it was an eye - opener. Plus, bronze has the advantage of having an anti-diffusion effect when cutting herbs (no funny taste of iron carbide;-)) or vegetables. And, proverb says, you won´t see any elves when you carry out iron into the woods, "that old know-it-all"*ggg*.

I look forward to all those projects. Life´s too short to forge mono steel... it seems to me these days  *ggg*. Watch this place!

Donnerstag, 14. März 2013

Portfolio and biography of Ilkka Seikku

On Akiri´s Blog which is a great read in itself, I came across some link he shared. Now I am really fond of Ilkka Seikku´s work. Ilkka is a Finnish bladesmith and amongst many other things makes the famed Bush prowler bushcraft knife.

Now on this other blog (Nordic knives) there´s a biography of Ilkka with loads of pics and insight into his work. By the way, he does a load more work than "just" make knives!

I get not paid to write this, by the way:-). But Ilkka is a very great craftsman, and deserves to get known more widely. His thoughts make it all the more clear.

Skogsrunar iak minni.

Rummaging through my chaotic drawers and the scrap heaps in my attic-turned-home:-) I came across this relic of a bygone past. This is an old knife I made long ago in my old home in the woods (Alas! This time will never come back:-/), in a happier time when life still made some more sense (might be I was young then and had tiny sorrows and now I am not and have not:-)).

I forged this blade under a starlit winter sky, with the sound of owls hooting and wild deer and pigs rustling in the underbrush. The fox was watching the roaring forge in the twilight, and hare and porcupine and the humble mice and the birds of the night were looking on. I forged this blade as a three-layer laminate out of rebar and file steel, and it was one of my first attempts. Thence there were still pine and spruce and pinion trees swaying in a gentle breeze, before the storm "Kyril" laid them low. The blade was mounted several years ago, however, when I had already left my home near the lake, and I made a handle out of reindeer antler with a simple dragon head carving, a copper ferrule, and a runic inscription with a somewhat "pidgin";-) Old Norse motto: "Skogsrunaminni" should mean: "(I) remember (the) forest´s runes". It should be a talisman against the hellish noise and circumstances I now live in, and so far it has succeeded to keep the memory alive, and always will. Other than that, being selectively tempered in an urine concoction after the "Wein artzt" (17something), it´s a mean cutter, too. I still like it, and I will make a new sheath for it. The knife and its message deserve it.

She´s altogether too fond of blades...;-)

The magic troll mailed me the other day to show off pics of her new blades. The one above is one I am really fond of: It´s Hildiswin (pig-of-war) by Petr Florianek (, Czech sword- and bladesmith whom I admire quite a lot. The blade is wrought iron / high carbon steel three-layer laminate, which is very cleanly accomplished. There´s a boar inlay in silver wire, the handle is carved antler and oak burr, and the carving of a boar on the butt is antler, too, as is the mounting on the sheath. Petr sold it for 160,00€, and it drove me mad!!!! The knife handles very well, light and nimble, albeit abit too light for my liking, but then it is a neck knife, and nothing wrong with that. Also check out this guy´s facebook pages, lots of pics to drool over: Or any such like. I am still not on facebook, for I am not overly fond of their corporate policy.
The other is a more decent photo of my own work I posted recently.

Mittwoch, 13. März 2013

The quest goes on.... for the "Brackerfelder Knopmetz" and other treasures;-)

 When I came home on Thursday, I went for an afterwork bimble in my neighbouring woods. These woods originally were property of a smithing corporation that produced saws, spades, scythes, and other tools in the 1930´s, and they filled up the trails with their scrap metal and other junk. This practice was quite common in these days. I also set out to get a clue how the Breckersfelder bog iron ore might have been processed, for you find a lot of smelting leftovers there, and Breckerfeld is situated quite close to the place where I live. In any case, this is a treasury of industrial history. One thing has to be added, sadly, and that is that this is also a documentation of human hubris, for the woods will be polluted for aeons to come. You even find chunks of sulphur lying on the surface! Heavy metals pollute the water, and many trees show signs of pollution. But, it is somewhat strange. I even found pseudovolcanic haematite, and those smelting remnants that had rested in the soil for so long now, have withered to an almost beautiful appearance. 
 I found a piece of wrought iron, an old stamp, a rod of tool steel, and a sheet bar of very strange tool steel. It appeared untempered, and yet I used it to pry and dig and smash slag and ore lumps... have to check the carbon content....:-)
 On the road to the hills, I found a piece of spring steel. I did not say no to that, either.;-)
 The sun was sinking fast, and in the fading light I came across these smelting slags.
 They were covered with volcanic glass, which hints of glass powder being used as a flux medium.
 I simply revelled in the beauty of those structures and the surfaces formed by heat and time and the rage of the forest´s roots.


 Several steps farther ahead I came across this looong (1,2 m) rod of tool steel, presumeably, that is, judging from the rust buildup.
 An allen hey key bolt, an something that seems to be a piece of an old sickle or scythe... it will become a knife blade, and I think I´ll complete it exclusively from material from these woods.

More slag, ore remnants and pseudovolcanic glass.

I also took home some ingot remnants to practice processing of the ingot I found in Breckerfeld. The region is thoroughly stamped by industry, and often polluted by it. We smiths have a responibility for the ecosystem, too, and we must do something good. Industrialization not only has enslaved the individual worker, but also ruined parts of the ecosystem for good. The fact that several smiths could work with the material found in just a tiny area of those woods hints of over-production and the messing about with resources. I certainly am no eco - angel, but tribal knifemaking and blacksmithing has taught me to use as much material and scrap material as I can without throwing away, reusing instead of recycling. By this hike I realized how urgent this is, and I learned something concerning the quest for the Breckerfelder knopmetz... but it still goes on!;-) Watch this space.

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