Donnerstag, 25. September 2014

Some eye candy by Erich

 Erich, the father of my lovely magic troll, recently disappeared. He was sought desperately, until strange sounds from the cellar indicated there was something going on there. Turns out Erich got the knifemaking bug bad;-). I am NOT TO BE MADE RESPONSIBLE FOR THAT!;-) Above is a Lauri puukko blade with Goldfield and beech wood.
Below is a silver steel blade by myself as a wgittling knife for his girlfriend, As you can see, it´s selectively tempered. Beech wood with brass mountings. Sweet!

Montag, 22. September 2014

Forging virtually around the clock;-) a weekend with great people and some catastrophes as spice

 Unrest got the bug bad;-) and thus he sent me a SMS how it would be to do a hammer-In on Friday. We had planned it beforehand to do some barbecueing also. I had organized the event and asked Volker if it would be possible, and it turned out it even was REALLY okay, so we met at 2 pm and lit up forge. Nick was there, Kathrin, Michael, Nele, Volker and myself, and we set up the forge and anvils in a circle (thanks, Nick!). Nele and Michael wanted to make their first knives, and Nick wanted a maximal EDC, meaning a knife at maximum legal blade length out of spring steel. Unfortunately, things were not so good that day and he suffered from some mishaps. Bro, don´t be upset, it happens to all of us! Michael insisted upon  forging his blade all by himself, and I was like "ouch, this might not turn out too well", but I was really impressed. He had to take his time, but this was also the key to his success. He really contemplated every step, and if he was not sure, he asked me. I also was impressed by his girlfriend. In her case, I helped a bit more, but let her do the crucial parts, filing the shape and the bevel and the tang part, and of course a lot of hammer work. We also came across a new technique and forged a hollow-to-convex bevel on the blade, in the case of her blade a bit wayward still, but it turned out so well that I might use this technique on more future knives for bushcraft knife. It certainly makes the knife very slicey without sacrificing lateral strength and edge stability. We did the bevel with what was to hand, but I guess I´ll make myself a tool for it in the future. Then Volker came by and asked me if I could do a children´s birthday party the next day. As usual he had forgotten he had an invitation to a marriage also and also forgot to notify me a bit earlier. We had beforehand appointed that he would notify me a week beforehand if there were any work on schedule, for I try to earn my money with several jobs and have to organize each and every work I do with much flexibility, but as usual he did not manage to keep this appointment. I told him again why this drives me mad, he of course was just one step short of crawling on his belly before me and licking my boots clean, I told him again that I did not want his remorse but a perspective and respect through a tiny bit of reliability. He is a good guy, but someone seems to have beaten him up throughout his entire life. Sometimes he reminds me - no offence meant - a lot of Gollum from LOTR. Nothing gained with getting furious, I simply returned to the good work and the great atmosphere.
 Nele filing the tang. We then annealed it some more, and then Michael prepared a piece of wood by using only a hand axe, we drilled a small hole for the tang and then burned it in to achieve a fit. Then we unmounted the block, ground it to shape, tempered the blade and sharpened it and glued it in.
 Nele not sure what to do next*ggg*. Kathrin lined up to forge a fork and did very well until she suffered some mishap too. But she simply carried on, and when one tip of the fork burned away she simply made an awl out of it.

 I could not resist photographing Michael´s rag T-Shirt. I like the fact that he uses it as a rag T-shirt, for it´s the crew shirt of Zee Aylienz Bike Race my club once organized. Michael was not too fond of some developments (on which we are 100% agreed) of the club I once founded blah blah. Now many people identify themselves very much with this club, which is a good thing, but the bad thing is that they act the Gestapo with people who have broader interests than just bike racing and bike racing alone and thusly do not buy in to their uniform attire mania. Michael also had suffered some verbal abuse from those little dictators, and I find it delicious that he now wears the shirt for doing actual work.;-). I also contemplated that club a bit. Many of them think mountainbiking gives them freedom. And while individual transport offroad really does, the way they do it doesn´t. Mountainbiking can be a great vehicle for individual "rewilding". It can take you places, it can give you a better connection to the woods and your own body. It is a great way to experience flow and therefore a step ladder to feeling flow in forest environments and reconnecting with nature by this. Racing also is a good thing for that, if you know where to start and where to end.

But many mountainbikers buy in to a product subscription by starting their riding. You need at least four bikes to cater for all those generated needs you read about in fancy penny-dreadful high-gloss magazines, plus all the latest clothing and riding gear paraphernalia. You need to buy a freerider, an enduro, a CC-bike, a fun hardtail, a 29", a 27,5" and whatnot in both hardtail and full suspension configurations. You need to ride in the Alps, in the USA, all the bikeparks and trailparks and urbanparks and skateparks and where and when and whatnot, meaning you have to spend a lot of money to even get started.

But it is about life, and freedom isn´t free. Meaning you either join the ratrace to consume and  throw away and therefore have a job that burns you out (every second person in Germany suffers from psychological problems and mostly burn-out depression), meaning no freedom whatsoever just to achieve what you believe is freedom, or you go for it and rewild yourself meaning a hard life with plenty enemies and some really strange friends foraging for your food, working hard making things and ride your bike out into the woods as a vehicle to get more roots, fruit and mushrooms in one turn making for less hard work. For fun, too, for noone says you can´t have fun even when working hard.

This is where blacksmithing and mountainbiking coincides. It is not just a "hobby" in my book, but a method to actually shape your life even in this strange world. Want to go bushcrafting but have no money to buy all the fancy goods? F***ing make them! Can´t afford a fancy car or even the train ticked, but there´s a bike in your cellar sitting behind those garbage bags? F***ing pump up the tyres and USE! IT! Is your drivtrain skipping? REPAIR! IT! You ain´t fit enough? RIDE! Go to the grocery store, ride foraging, practice stunt riding, have fun, but simply pull the plug of this insane society by using your brain more instead of storing it at Big Brother´s place in the almighty web.

The same goes for blacksmithing. Can´t afford a fancy forge? Oh, please, give me a break, in Nepal they forge with a hole in the ground and a grocery plastic bag for a bellows. Ron Hood showed long time ago that you can make a forge even in the wilderness, and I made my first damascus with a hole in the ground and a vacuum cleaner.

Michael is a guy who understands this, and he attacks the fetish of some goofbrains by wearing a T-shirt like it was just that: A T-shirt.;-) I like that very much.

 It was a productive day also for myself. I did some work on my damascus seax and fitted a handle on a concept seax knife I have in the making. In the middle is Nele´s new knife. Top to bottom: Damascus blade, 110x6mm, rebar and 1.2842, 60 layers, Mokume Gane bolster, reindeer antler and yew, spring steel blade, 110x3 mm or so, copper ferrule, oak wood handle, San Mai  blade out of crucible steel I found in the woods, ball bearing steel for  a middle layer (100Cr6) 110x3,8 mm, handle will be reindeer antler with a carving.
 Suddenly, or so it seemed, it went dark, and we were still out like maniacs grinding and filing and fitting. It was a very productive and inspiring atomsphere to me. Nick lit the BBQ fire, and the girls prepared some food (I had brought some mushrooms and a guacamole with a Bavarian spice to it;-), and they filled the ´shrooms with the stuff.
 From one of the pieces of spring steel where forging went wrong with Nick I demoed the technique for a blade. I offered it to him, but he declined, for he wanted to forge it himself. Bro, just keep on trying, and if I can be of assistance, ask me.
 Then a great day subsided into an even greater evening. Volker came by and joined us, and even if we have our arguments to date, we were glad he was there and enjoyed our company and food. And please do not get me wrong when I talk about the difficulties we have: He is a friend. Not a reliable one, but if you  want to be respected for what you are and not what you should be you have to do this to others in the first before you even have a right to make this claim. And it pays off. It was great to feast on great homemade food (Michael brought a delicious homemade loaf of bread, and everyone contributed to the feast). We talked and laughed a lot, drank our share and relished in the evening.
 Well into the night we sat and feasted and made plans.
 Then, at roundabout 2:30 am we parted. I rode home with a warm feeling and but a mild worry about the next day, for I covered some extra distance on the ride home due to some home-brewed beverages;-).
 When I arrived at the smithy with surprisingly no hangover and surprisingly early, I noticed something I had not noticed the day before. Over here wild strawberries are done at mid-summer. Victor now had planted some around the smithy. He loves wild strawberries, and even had planted some at the site of his old employer, the Freilichtmuseum Hagen. This is also where I got to know Volker and him in the first place, Volker working as a hand drill smith and Viktor doing a lot of blackmithing demos for the public. This is also where I got to know some other blacksmith readers of my blog may be acquainted with, Harald, whom I regard as an important tutor. A lot of my humble skills I learned by listening to him and forging with him. Now Viktor had taken this custom of planting strawberries with him when he left, and also planted those at the Bethaus. They still prosper in the lousy weather we currently have.
 I mean, strawberries blossoming in, wait, SEPTEMBER? Then I set up forge. I was prepared for utter chaos, but as it turend out it was even worse. Parallel to the children´s birthday party there also was a guided tour staged. The guide insisted to have the rack wagon you can see in the background. No problem if someone had informed me beforehand, but noone did. So, with the kids thronging for forging, I had to unmount the smithy, they made a big racket and an even bigger fuss in getting the thing out, so much in fact that I finally pushed them aside and rolled it out myself. Then Sylvia came and informed me I had to light and guard a BBQ fire at the same time as well as doing a demo for the guided tour. I solved it by starting an inferno of a fire in the grill, set it beside the forge and tutoring the guided tour how to light a fire without gasoline and explaining about the history of fossile fuel and charcoal while doing so and starting to forge with the kids at the same time relating the forging tutaorial to what I was telling to the guided tour kids. When they went on their merry way to molest other places;-), I continued with the kids alone. Then the guided tour came back, and demanded I´d instantly put the rack wagon back where it belonged. I said: "just put it there, I do not want to put the kids in danger..", and for a change, they put it before the smithy, out of harm´s way. They made a big fuss again and left. I was in the middle of saving the party when it began to drizzle. And to rain. And to hail. So I had to unmount the smithy again to save the wooden rackwagon. It was then that I realized Volker had prepared the floor of the shed for a concrete floor by putting on a layer of sand and mud, only that he did it badly, and the long time it has been waiting for the foretold concrete floor hasn´t helped its structural integrity, to be polite. So, BUMMER, the wheels stuck. With grunting and growling I managed to heave it onto my shoulder and, in the meantime being wet through, carry it across the swamp to put it under a roof, then I remounted the smithy, while the kids stood there with disbelief. I was thinking, "That´s it, I messed it up", but it turned out kids and parents alike were actually fond of me. The floor in the meantime looked as if some wild pigs on synthetic drugs had turned it over, and it did not help in the least that the kids used the funny creeks that were building up, for toy dam building. Anyway, I managed to make all the kids happy. But before they were off, Sylvia and her daughter came in the middle of some complex work with a kid that was a bit special, and she demanded that I close the restaurant and the museum, for they wanted to go home. I managed to stay calm and throw no hammer at them, and I am proud of that achievement;-), and managed to utter through gritted teeth :"Just give me the keys, I´ll take care of that...".

Suddenly I was alone, and while it was still raining and hailing cats, dogs, aand dinosaurs, I took a deep breath. In a rain break I managed to go up, close the restaurant and the museum and get me another coffee and a non-alcoholic beer (which I like to drink when forging, because it´s isotonic and does not consist out of sugars I cannot even pronounce). When I was about to pack up, it started to rain hard again, and I sat there on a stool with a hot coffee, and laughed, and laughed so hard I nearly spilled my java. So, caught under the shed`s roof with the floor slowly floating away, I simply took some ancient spring steel and forged myself a knife while waiting for the rain to cease.
 I forged it with an integral bolster using a nail device and tried the hollow bevel - forging technique from the day before, but driving it to a new level. After forging, the edge was just three-tenths of a millimetre thick at places. I just filed it down to a millimetre and then did a thorough annealing. It was beautifully calm in spite of the pounding rain, I carburized the blade a bit with antler filings while annealing and sat there listening and breathing, and taking a sip of beer from time to time..
 I then heated the tang cherry red and burned it through an antler handle. I removed the handle, filed it some, and then did a progressive edge quench.
The handle then was glued on and the tang peened over an eye-shaped brass disc.

All the while the rain and hail pounded down on the roof, I packed up, for it was getting dark. It was only when I put the forge back into the garage and had all the tools and gear packed into my backpack, that I realized I had a flat in the rear tire again. So it was unpacking the pack, for of course the spare tube was well down below, as was the tire pump.

I sighed, fixed the flat, closed the shop, straddled my steed and rode home through the rain. But when I was in the vicinity of Wetter, things cleared up and the stars came out piercingly bright. I was feeling content and I take pride into the fact that I live where many others can only just so survive. Maybe that I often sit with my arse in the mud, but then the stars shine brighter to me than they do to others. I am not successful, but passionate, and sometimes I have the feeling that I would not want to trade.

I feel alive, and that´s the best thing every living thing can say.

Sonntag, 21. September 2014

Damascus Kopis

 This is a Kopis design I made some time ago, from a piece of scrap damascus by Matthias Zwissler, forged into shape by myself. I am increasingly fond of it, for it´s very, very slicey and the recurve blade shape makes for a fierce cutter.
 In the pattern you can see that the blade was forged into shape very closely, and I admit, I take some pride into it, especially when I think where I started and where I am now. But I have a lot to learn still, and look forward to it.
The handle is mule deer antler that will see some carving still. Blade´s 115x3,2 mm. The steel has a very fine structure making it hair-splitting sharp. It sails through soft mushrooms freehand and has good edge retention to boot.

Love it!

Samstag, 20. September 2014

Autumn-the dance of life and death

 Nether brush and thicket, by the sizzling creek, stems the path into the twilight like a branch from olden trees.
 Along the mane of ancient moss leads the trail to yonder green.
 Am I small or am I of giant breed, am I a seed beneath the rotting leaves? Am I waiting, dancing, circling deeper, deeper, lower still?
 Thus rise the star of sunlight behind my brow, awhilst I go into the realm of twilit trails.
 Spirit wood of treesprite realm, open up thy cold embrace, warm still in the sunlight of a fading year.
 Nether thicket, brush and tree, treads my foot light and free, into the realm and yonder still.
 And song and thought and tale and lore stay silent in the forest´s hall; silently I thread my way, along a path of ancient dance.
 Sing of the blossoms of spring hidden in their rout; sing of the autumn scent awaken in the wind.

 From beneath the deep and dark the spirit of the mycel is rising to nourish the beasts and man with the twilight´s flesh; thus like is death, and we are mushrooms blooming from the abyss of our soul.
 And even if the sun may shine upon our dance, so does the star in the abyss, the root of the mountain, ice-cold and brighter as a sun in its own right, our soul. And as the mushrooms rise violently in autumn, so does that soul rise up to life, blooming with flower and tree and beast and man, rising like waters from a broken dam.
 Death is not, so fear not fading. The mouse, fallen from the fangs of the bird of prey, hit hard the ground and fell into the sleep of death, and maggots will eat the flesh and get rid of mortality, yet life will spring up with a new time of year.
 Sleep well, my little friend, and dream a crystal tear, and may you be rested.
 In the Golden Halls beneath the ground, where the sun will sleep in winter, fairy tales are born anew.
 Dark will become the land, and yet not dark.
 For in the darkest of all hours, the light is born anew.

 Moss grows upon the warlike fox´s skull; may his spirit guide the little mouse into the golden caverns where hunt and feast reign eternal.
 Sleeping under the hawthorne, beyond my feeble humanity, I rise to see the sun sinking, dying for but an hour, for but a second, and smile.
 Sleep not under the hawthorn, they say, or alien you will be for your fellow humans. But the hornet preys on the dragonfly, and the hunt is eternal in this time of year.
 So may thou sink, sun, beloved of the summer earth, and may the harvest be rich.
And to all you out there:

Have a good harvest, a lovely autumn, and good memories of a great summer gone by.

And never fear the grey god´s disciples.

Donnerstag, 18. September 2014

Meilerfest Ennepetal 2014 - Coalers Fair 2014 Ennepetal

 I had a very intense argument again with Volker. It led to an instant repair of the forge, and he had even bought a tent for the upcoming event. We arrived at the lovely site of the Meilerfest 2014, the Hülsenbecker Tal, an idyllic valley in the Ennepetal vicinity, and set up forge and the tent. Nick helped out again.
 We set up a decent booth for a change. And what can I say-it really paid off and we got a lot of great feedback for it. That was a good feeling and it taught us that it is well worth the effort to go the extra length.

 We had some knives and smaller goodies on display.
 The coalers were at the site for a week beforehand and did a great job as usual, and, with better materials, harvested a lot of charcoal of very great quality this year.
 The coalers hut.
 We were there in reenactment mode with a "light" attire suitable for forging. Blimey, have to get some viking work gear;-). Above is Nick´s round shield... I find it interesting that he drew the antlered crown of the horned god alongside the Celtic Christian Cross. It made me think and certainly opened up my mind. Christians (as Muslims) are easily offended, but I do mean no offence when I state my thoughts. I just want to find the truth.

In Israel, there was the custom of sacrificing the "scapegoat", and the self - sacrifice of Jesus Christ was in the line of the sacrifice of the scapegoat. Jesus is said to be the lamb of God.

What does a goat have on its head? There are theories, one of the older ones being that of Frazer ("The Golden Bough") that this custom was used throughout prehistorical Celtic communities also. The horned God, the companion of the Goddess, was sacrificed after the communion with the Goddess to return to the earth and give fertility to the tribe and the land. He was "king for a day", the "jester king", the "king of the bean". He was the older twin sacrificed at Midwinter festival to change place with the child of light which was born in Midwinter. The "Joulupukki" was a character closely related to the horned god, and there are myths throughout the world dating back to prehistoric times, and there is no reason to emphasize the differences between the mythologies. The world is round, and we have to finally work on the babylonic confusion that has befallen all of us. The alternative is a war that will never end and ultimately will destroy us as species and will be the rout of mankind.

I like the fact that I can talk to Nick on those topics. Nick is a practicing "Jesus Freak" and very stern about his belief (and this is a good thing), and by discussing matters like this we both can prosper on our quest.

There´s a message hidden inside this statement. With a bit of luck you can find it;-).
 This is his sword. We had a good fight once and killed us both, and I was a bit surprised, for I am practicing the arts for a long time. Only but recently I learned that Nick has a strong background in Kung Fu! No wonder...;-)
 Then the coalers came by and asked in a hurry if I good forge some fire-sprite pendants. We did this together. We made three of them, and the fourth one we forged in one heat!
 The guys were just great company. I mean, if you can forge a fire-sprite you have never made with one of them in one heat, that means you can really work together, and someone with whom this is possible can´t be too bad.
 Nick at work (for a change:-P)
 Olaf was there, too with a booth and had a lot of great knives on display.
 He makes these viking axes from old flea market finds.

 His leather work is simply great and inspiring. He gave me a bracelet he made, and I hold in high esteem.
 His knives and seaxes.
 He shared a booth with Burkhardt, who sold some quality Solingen goods.
 ..and KAI kitchen knives...
 He also had this pioneer´s sabre on display, a historical piece. I find it very intriguing, how well balanced it was in spite of the clumsy appearance.

 More Solingen goodies.
 Then suddenly, with a bang, Erik dropped by. Now Erik is the son of Gesa, and I know him since he was a tiny licce baby. He now is a ranger of his own provenience, bone collector and wild kid living in the woods, and it is funny how much he mirrors my own childhood. Of course we forged a spring steel knife together, and of course I did that for free. He does not talk much, but he was a very capable apprentice, better at the work than people thrice his age.
 Then Unrest and Nele dropped by, and Unrest got the bug bad. He forged two nails, and horseshoes and an awl, and will be back for more. Now Unrest is a guy I have known for years. He once was a member of the mountainbike club I founded, until the goofbrains got on his nerves. Now he is well into bushcraft and most recently discovered a love for blacksmithing.
 Funny, because he was like: "I always thought you were a weirdo for doing that woodsman stuff and that forging thing... but it´s actually fun! Did not think that..."
 Anyway, I guess he will be back;-). We had some great time together, and I am grateful to have made a closer acquaintance!
 The falconer strolled by the booth. It´s funny, all the people simply came by and stopped for a chat. Even amongst the traders, there was a great atmosphere.
 Nele, Unrest´s lady, also swung the hammer with relish, and made a poker and a bracelet. I can tell, you, we had a lot to do and I even sold some knives for  a change. All of a sudden it was dark, and the lanterns and the fires were lit. I guess I´ll just let the pictures talk for themselves. Words can hardly descrivbe the atmosphere. I could tell you of all the silent chats with people not wasteful with words, or the love of the trades and craftsmanship, but the fires talk better.

 It was a very intense atmosphere, and feelings I will relish in for years.
 Sunday saw us early. This is Nick trying to light  a fire*ggg*.

 I met with Johannes, and I daresay there´s a friendship born. Johannes is a woodturner of the highest pedigree.
 He was both working with children and on his own projects.
All the while his customers kept coming inquiring and buying his excellent work. Johannes is someone I keep meeting on reenactment fairs throughout Germany.
 He had some woodturning benches set up for the kids and shaving horses and did a great job instructing them how to do it.

 "Who is apprentice - everyone!"
 "Who is journeyman - he who can!"
 "Who is master - he who thought it up!"
 The grindstone was most interesting. For he modified a relatively cheap flea market stone with a Tormek stone and a hand forged winch- sweet, and I guess I´d steal the idea!;-)
 This is is carving hatchet, by Müller Corporation, Austria.

 Johannes with the kids, tutoring how to use the drawknife. Guys like these are the true rescue squad of our culture in my book!
 This is his work and craft.
 The magic troll is addicted to his spindles.... it´s becoming a habit! Visit his website here.
 Yarn spindles...


 Anyway, great works of art.
 There was a lot of different art on display too.

Smoked trout by the Kahlenbeckerquelle Fishing park.

 The folks from the Industriemuseum were there too offering demos for the kids and some goodies, too, and while our relation was somewhat problematic, I wish them the very best of luck, for their work is most important, and Rainer, the guy in the picture is very nice guy.

 Handmade bread by Kaiser bakery...
 I also metwith Olaf and his lovely wife. They are a most interesting couple.
For their corporation, they make mead, brew beer after medieval recipes, make delicious BBQ sauces and offer herbs and tea.
Visit their website here.
Beautiful birds of prey....
This is a knife Nick made for his lovely woman. It´s made from spring steel, tempered with a little help from myself. It is very thin at max 1,8 mm and cuts like your little sister bites.;-) The wood is of unknown provenience, but I think it´s red hazel. Beautiful.
This is a knife Olaf had on display, of Cretian provenience, Tribal knifemaking at its best.
War mace...

The forge was brim ful with kids wanting to forge, adults and customers. It was a frenzy, but one that was not stressful.
Apprentice at work polishing his work of art. The kids were righteously proud of their achievement, and came back for more.
A big thank you also goes to Kathrin, who helped out with her experience and simply covered our backs, selling and gearing up the kids.
Customers provided non-alcoholic beer when they saw we had nothing to drink anymore.
Seems Kathrin is developing that Johannes habit, too;-), she bought a hair pin.
I was very pleased to meet with Ms. Ostra sen. and her family. Ms. Ostra is the foundress of Johanniter ambulance and health care organisation in Schwelm and is very active in doing work for it. And she is a very remarkeable lady for sure. It certainly shows in her daughter and her grandson, who are remarkeable persons in their own right. The little one did a great job at the forge and quite certainly had fun with it.

Of course I did the awl and the horsehoe charm for free. Ms. Ostra´s daughter apparently is of alternative belief also, and has her feet firmly planted in the earth. I daresay the world would be a better place if there were more individuals like those, and I offered the little one the opportunity to visit the smithy whenever he wants.
This was a great experience. I sold a blade and made a cooperation with Johannes to fit it in a handle he specially turned for it out of cherry wood. We fitted a bolster out of a H&M fashion finger ring I got CHEAP;-).
I also made a carving knife for Johannes. He had one made by Pitter, but wanted a different angle. So he asked me if I could anneal it and bend it and then temper it again, all with the handle still fitted. Since I did not know the steel quality, I said no, and instead offered him to forge one out of spring steel with some torsional work. Seems he loved it;-), and he offered me four handles like this turned out of aged Yew. I like deals like this;-).

Katrin smelling the roses.

Then suddenly the day was over. We had some snack provided by loving customers, packed up and left. I drove to Witten, and to make things not too easy, Volker called three times where I was. When I arrived, we unpacked in hectic and frenzy, brought back the car, and he even drove me home. When I arrived at home, I contemplated the event and concentrated on the warm feeling I still had for all the positive feedback.

Folks, we´ll be back!

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