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Mittwoch, 10. April 2013

How do you spell catastrophe? First Hammer - In of the season @Industriemuseum Ennepetal

 On Sunday there came a day I had looked forward to for a long time: The first Hammer - In of the museum season. Traditionally, it´s always a great time to be had with a lot of knifemakers, in part from all over Germany, and the folks are always good-tempered. There are minor questions to be asked, but all in all, we never had any problems amongst ourselves. We enjoyed ourselves doing the best we could for the museum. For free, if you don´t count the cake and coffee and one or the other sausage...

The times they are a-changing, or so it seemed that Sunday. When we arrived at the smithy, way before the event SHOULD start we were greeted with a sneer and a "MORNING! Slept well, did you?". The Thursday before the week before, Willy made a contact at the session of the museum staff´s board just to make sure everything was fine and we did not miss out on anything. Our Email-addresses and phone numbers are well known (or so they should after giving them out at least ten times). When we arrived at the smithy on Sunday, we did not know what to say. We were pleased to see a HUGE anvil, and a new coal forge and a paraphernalia of tools to use and expo material to show. What we were not pleased at all with was that it was literally strewn all over the place hindering our interaction with the public, making it almost impossible. Ok, we made it work as best as we could. Then, it was the traditional fire alarm bleating along after just one hour of forging, and noone competent to turn it off. The fire brigade came by, was not amused and went away, and still the alarm was blaring on. Ok, we made it work, as we always do.
 Then one of the staff members came by to announce that we were trespassing the museum rules by not being a member (I am not, three clubs and institutions are way enough, but Willy is) and therefore hindering insurance. From my job I know that it´s often a matter of goodwill to make that work. Ok, I think that guy had a hard day anyway, so no harm done, for he´s normally a friendly guy to boot. But all along we heard some ranting about this or that. The icing on the cake, however, was still to come, when the head of the museum came by leading a group of visitors through the museum. I had worked four weeks in a row on a referate about iron culture and -history in the region, including the history of the "Brackersfelder knopmetz" (readers of my blog know that topic), and I started right away with the things I prepared. I was being interrupted rudely. He then started to talk about a vice that´s ion use in the smithy and that one of his ancestors used to make them, and then started on how casting was superior to smithing (which is frankly absurd, for those two are entirely different processes). Ok, then, I took a deep breath, it´s okay with me, less work for me in the future. To calm down, I wanted to get me a sausage and a coffee. When at the barbecue stand, I was being told that they couldn´t be free anymore for I was not a member. Okay, I said, took another deep breath, turned around to the bakery, and got me a delicious sausage-in-a-bread.

I don´t exactly know what´s going on, and that´s my problem in the first. We work there for some four years now. We did a good job, or so we were told. Many tools and three forges and several of the anvils in the smithy are our own. All of the hammers, tongs, most of the steel, and even some gold, silver and mokume gane left over from out time with Mathhias Zwissler. Turns out those materials last mentioned are all gone. I wish the new proprietor good luck with them, okay. We can´t help it anyway, but it sucks, and it was a learning process taking everything of value home with us, meaning, always riding with 40kg worth of smithy on my back 30 km all in all. Which sucks also.

And another thing is extremely strange to see. The staff´s always running around with a deep frown, while in the smithy, for the most part, there´s always some mischief going on, laughter and even some queer singing;-). We do what we like, we are free, and we love to tutor kids and adults. Why can´t they just leave us be? Okay, that´s naive, for they are Mammonists, and we are deviant from the norm. We make knives and tools, and that´s a factor, too.
 Our piece of cake, however, was that this was the case that day in spite of all the mayhem going on. The circumstances were as bad as could possibly be, and I guess, the photo below shows the mess the smithy was in. But we shrugged, took the hammer to hand and just pounded on. Marcel and Volker came along, and we had some fun playing with fire and steel. Marcel is a hobby knifemaker I got to know at the Bethaus smithy, and Volker, a friend of his, is a learned artisan blacksmith, a chastity belt smith in fact, which we had a good laugh about him always making a spare key just to keep himself busy;-).
 He did extremely well at knifemaking, though, forging a belt knife (chastity belt knife?;-) HUH*ggg*) out of file steel. We just showed him the turn on tempering, but it worked out well enough!
 Marcel had some extremely difficult projects for a first - time smith, requiring a lot of sledge work and quite some welding.
 In spite of all the havoc, I still had some time left for my own little projects, including the folder I forged recently. I had to quench, quench and quench some more the elven damascus knife I made recently which turned out to be no damascus at all.DOH!;-) Okay, next one will be better and out of real steel.

 Daniel was there, too, and he has made some HUGE progress. Here he is preparing some spring steel for a Birka knife he started and where I tutored him a bit with tempering and grinding.
 There also was a historical automobile show as usual, and I took a rest taking photos. There also was a musical performance by a friend of mine, Dr. Mufumba, but I missed it for the problems with the fire alarm.
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By the way, sorry for the lousy pics! My camera had a hard day, too;-).


Daniel forged a knife and some artwork that day. Then Nick came by with his lovely wife.
All the while we had a chat, the guys kept on pounding. These are the projects Marcel made. A big kitchen knife and a piece of damascus steel by Peter John Stienen we drove out for him.
I modified my favourite hammer with a bigger punch to make for a sturdier handle fitting base, the elven knife that did not become hard enough, a leaf handled Kopis out of spring steel....aaaand a striker inlay for my folder.
For Nick and his wife I made some pouch mounting rings out of mild steel, and Nick and myself forged a blade out of cold-rolled file steel together. Turns out he was quite inspired by the En -Nep I made a long time ago and wanted one, too. While we were working together (good job, mate!), I learned that he was acquainted to Willy´s daughter... strange ways life goes, really!;-)
The one thing they cannot take from us: The roaring forge. The dragon´s breath in our spine. The hammer in our hand. Our pride. And our skill. The deity could, but what for?

They have cut the sinews of blacksmiths, they have enslaved them and stripped them from their privileges. But those smiths of legend have always learned to forge themselves wings. We strive to learn the name of iron, and iron does answer in the fire.
Like this, see? Those are the works of Daniel. The knife is spring steel, 1,2 mm or anything like that x85 mm blade with a selective temper.

They have mobbed him, tried to keep him low, have made fun out of him. But he´s right now making his way, and he succeeds at it. The roaring forge will be in his heart, and iron listens to his hammer now. They will never succeed in breaking him.

This is the En - Nep we made for Nick, and a spare ring that went not so well.

Then we went over to the café to have a mug, and we even DID get it still. Cake was all gone (Why don´t you take a break a bit  earlier? - ´Cause we were busy, ma´am). We chatted a bit, and Walter came by. Now Walter certainly is a good guy, and he got horsed around with as badly or even more bad than we, and he said he wanted to talk about it in the managing committee. We do not believe it will do anything good, but if he inists, we thought, we might as well let him do it. We just don´t believe in the managing comittee anymore. It was a bit strange. We talked about things that really mattered, and they kept on ranting their bureaucratic rants and uttering their personal complaints. Okay, so what, you might say, that guy´s also ranting about in this post, but I guess there´s a difference. I do not stop there. We just made it work and had fun nonetheless. We worked hard, but we love what we do. We do not care a runny shit about who has what position or not, and who has what permission or not. We work for others as well as for ourselves, and we will not let them bring us down. Not an iota of an inch. We simply have that responsibility for others, as well as for ourselves. And that is their problem, not ours. We will do our best, as we always do. And our work is appreciated by other institutions. So, when in doubt, they will have ten smiths and half a smithy less.  
Then, suddenly, the mayhem was over, and I rode out into the woods to have some rest and a bit of contemplation.
...and a lovely, lonely cuppa tea, of course. It felt like taking a deep breath after being sick a long time, and I simply took in the silence, only broken by the tweeting of birds and the wind in the leaves still left from last autumn in the oak tree above.

Oh, and here´s a better inkling of how the folder´s intended to be. I plan to fit a striker as a spacer in the back that will also serve as a lanyard hole.
I also found some more spring steel by the roadside. Perfect.
I did some stumpsitting, and fortified my resolve.

They will never break us.

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