Donnerstag, 26. Februar 2015

A Hammer - In with Kai

Kai called some days ago if I was feeling like doing some pounding. Now Kai had just finished his first Damascus blades and had some surprises on hand, so I saddled my steed and  rode over the hill to his place. I was welcomed warmly and with a cuppa strong java, and then we lit up forge. This forge he has built over the last months. And when I look back how he started and where he´s now, it makes me proud to think I had a part in this.

And it was simply good to be there. I have a load of problems with most of the smithies I am working for. It just seems I get mobbed out of everything I have ever attended to (and worked for- for free), and this results in a constant pressure on my shoulders. When I ask new and old acquaintances to mirror my effect on others most respectfully tell me I am "larger than life" and thus give "lesser" men (those are quotes) a bad feeling, resulting in constant efforts to get rid of me. As one of my oldest friends stated "the dumb want to keep themselves company" (not my words) and that I am unusual and so forth. Culprit is, I do not see any effort on Kai´s part to get rid of me. And I do not need to play the psychiatrist either. I guess that´s what you´d call a friend. Thanks, bro, by the way, it is appreciated!

For it was just lighting a fire and swinging a hammer and pounding the steel... making damascus, the damascus for the aforementioned Rus / Varangian Kopis, by the way, and having a lot of rough and good-natured talk.
Kai had made two bearded axes "Viking style". Above is a shed find, a historical carpenter´s axe... sweet!

 And those are the first Damascus knives Kai made. Above is a skinner blade from chainsaw Damascus. The knife below is made from six layers of file steel and rebar, buffalo horn and yew.

I like the rustic appearance; and what they still lack in eloquence they more than make up for with charme. Props!
 This is the rest of the billet Kai welded.... I guess a new era has begun...;-)
And I look forward to a friendly competition!

...and...psst...don´t tell him, but I´d be glad if he beat me one day! It won´t be too long coming...

Progress on my Rus reconstruction - and Lúgra Móros

 The first steps towards my new Rus knife have been made, and I realized in the process that the Kopis knives I love so much actually have a historical background. One of my all - time favourite and ritual knives, Lúgra Móros (the moon-mare) is very close to a Novgorod find without me intending. In fact, I was always having the opinion, it was more of a Celtic design (hence the Old Gaulic name), but it seemingly also has roots in the Achaemenid Kopis but also in the younger Pishqabz. I wonder a lot of things these days. Could it be that the Varangians who served as a Byzantine palace guard served as a cultural vehicle to submit Persian or general Oriental weaponry and culture to the North? Or was this style of edge line original to Viking culture? What with an Irish influence) Quite certainly an Anglo-Saxon influence can be dismissed. I am fascinated by the thought that the Varangians, when returning home to Kiev or Scandinavia, brought Oriental wares with them (this is well documented). I also wonder whether Varangians also came in contact with Iranian and Oriental Martial arts? Plus, it is safe to say that at least one Russian martial arts and combat style of the medieval ages that was a predecessor to Systema originated in the Ukranian region around Kiev / Novgorod. This is a speculation of course. But a fascinating one...;-)
Anyway, the design of my Rus blade went a bit off the mark of the original drawing, but it is still somewhat historically accurate, for it mixes characteristics of the several Novgorod finds. The deviation is due to my forging it out of memory and not making a scheme out of brass or wood beforehand. This will happen next time. As is, the blade is 115x5mm in dimensions and made out of 45 layers of historical crucible and file steel. A first etching only revealed a tiny bit of pattern, but it is forged out in Masame technique to show the strands better. Below is a small whittling / neck knife I made for fun.

Wonderful woodturning by my goduncle

On a recent and long overdue visit to my goduncle and godauntie in Marburg he showed me some of his woodworks. He was inspired by my father to take up woodturning, and took it to another level. This is a serving platter with wonderfully made intarsia out of several hardwoods.
 A chandelier out of oak wood, wonderfully grooved.
 I really love those goblets. Oak and cherry wood.
 But what I was most fond of these composite wood and MDF goblets.
 Walnut and oak...
 MDF board...
 The handle he made out of a beef bone that went into a delicious soup.
When we started talking, he was convinced he´d give it all up, what with being 82, but after we finished talking he was not so convinced...;-). I will browse my attic for some interesting woods and look forward to what he´ll make of it! By the way, he will sell on request. Mail me and I will notify him, if you want one.

Mittwoch, 25. Februar 2015

Impressions from Karesuando

Gabriele has done me a great favour when she wrote me a mail the other day. She had been to Karesuando and wrote about her adventures there.
Obviously, her first impressions were those from the window of the plane: And Lapland was there, wide and clad in a mantle of snow.
And, as seems to be customary, Lapland welcomed her with open arms. This is a snöljus, a snow pyramid with teacandles inside for a welcome. She then visited the factory of Karesuando Kniven to watch the people craft those knives that are in use all over the world and to make her own.
Those knives I have talked about in a most recent post, and while I am not all agreed with everything they do there is no mistaking the fact that they are great and refined tools. Gabriele made her own at the factory and gave me some impressions about how those tools are made.

The raw material for the handles is curly birch from the region. I personally like the fact very much that all materials come from the region, or at least from Finland and Sweden (steel), guaranteeing a low ecological impact. Hats off to this corporation. The wood has a far higher density than comparable birchwood burr from Middle Europe, because of the hard circumstances in which those trees grow. This in turn makes it less prone to working loose, even if there is only a short tang inside.

The handles are fitted to the tang with a tight fit and then ground to shape.

This is Gabriele finishing the handle of her knife with a mixture of turpentine and oil, making it resistant to weather and dirt, but not giving the handle that "dead" feel a laquer often gives. This is a very traditional approach making the handle more serviceable, while not requiring too much of it.

As you can see, much of the work in building the knife is actually made by hand. Here apparently the bolsters are fitted and blades are prepared.

All this handiwork results in knives like the Järven model... I personally love this one very much.
 This is the Galten model. We will learn where the reindeer antler comes from soon;-).
This is "the boss";-), Per Erik Niva. Per-Eric manages the corporation and, having met him in person, I can safely say he´s a nice guy to boot.
 Gabriele in full "battle mode", out with a snowmobile. I am a bit envious of this experience... I guess it must be a great experience being out there in the beautiful landscape with a "big girl´s" toy...
 She also told me of a reindeer herding that took place when she was there. Reindeer still mean a lot to the Saami in the vicinity, even though they can no longer live the nomadic life of their ancestors. They are even forced by the government to sell and butcher their herdes "by decree". We Middle Europeans tend to regard Sweden and Scandinavian countries in general as a kind of social paradise, and while it is true that we can learn a lot from Scandinavian contemporary culture, be it educational, social or integration programs, all´s not grand in wonderland. And in my opinion we could learn a lot more from Saami culture, and I would go as far as stating that they might have a lot of insight that might even solve our ecological problems. For it is not only necessary that we learn the rational aspects about nature. We need a new natural lifestyle, including emotional and spiritual aspects as well. Learning includes learning a new respect for their culture. It is not possible to just take what we need from them, but we have to learn how to respect in the first, before we could even ask.

 Anyway, she provided me with these wonderful photos of the renrajd. The reindeer live half-wild most of the season. For the marking and butchering, they are herded together.
 This is normally done in winter, when they are relatively tame.
 This is Sara, reindeer breeder and Karesuando kniven employee taming a reindeer for marking out. Sara spontaneously invited Gabriele into her site caravan for coffee and delicious bread with reindeer sausage and a very heartful chat. Lapland is very welcoming, as it seems! Gabriele wrote it so envisioning that I felt the urge to get there one day.
 The herding is arduous and not exactly very easy work, potentially dangerous, too. No sissies here!
By the way, the antler is of course also used in the Karesuando knives.

As a conclusion, I can say that Gabriele´s mail made me crave for more. It is a fascinating region, and the slöjd and culture of the Saami even more so. I hope Gabriele will provide me with more correspondence about the factory and, especially, Sápmi culture.

I want to offer her my heartfelt thanks about the exclusive insight and wish her many more of these wonderful experiences!

Donnerstag, 19. Februar 2015

New project I want to start

On I finally found the knife Joel once upon a time referred to when he first saw Lúgra - Móros, the moon mare. Here he made some similar ones modelled after some medieval knives found with the St. Thomas Guild. The knives in the picture above, however, are Rus knives from Novgorod, from a late Viking area. I simply love the Kopis lines of the topmost design. I do not know yet whether I will do an exact reconstruction or an interpretation of the knife.

Also on schedule is the topmost knife as a seax replacement. I love the aspect that this design transports a lot of cultural interconnections. For the Kopis form is safe to say to have been introduced by oriental employers of Viking mercenaries or tradesmen from the middle east.

This is another thing I want to have...;-), a Rus folding knife. So much for the "Barbarian" Vikings... even more so however, does this find:

..give testament to the theory that Vikings, and Rus, the Viking founders of Kiew, actually were rather civilized gentlemen, for it is a device carried by male and female "Vikings" carried for a rather sophisticated body care. Second to left is an ear-cleansing spoon, and, owning and using one, I can say it beats a q-tip by far.

I have work to do!!!! Copyright of the pics is with If you want to share, please quote correctly. Thank you!

Mittwoch, 18. Februar 2015

Omnia with a song for all you warriors out there - FIGHT!

A video by Omnia with bold statements and positive vibes.

When I feel that the shrewd and wicked assholes and Monsantoists get the better end of ourselves, then I listen to this song. And then it is I remind myself that there are a lot of people making music like this and listening to it and roaming the woods and caring.

For more info on sea shepherd, look here.

But there are a load of things you can do without joining institutions or run amok with vegan radicalisms! Just look around you... and think about what you see.

Personally I have realized a lot of things and decided:

-to wear my clothing until it falls apart
-to repair as much as I can
-to buy good clothing regionally if I can
-to create as much of it as I can myself
-since I am no vegetarian and see no gain for myself and nature  in becoming one I obstain from discount meat and fast food and buy as much as I can regionally and of high quality resulting in delicious meals with a bonus for nature
-I question my consume behaviour every day. Doesn´t mean I am perfect at all, as you know full well.
-I do not eat soja and don´t buy discount bread
-I do not own a car and go by bus or train and use the walks and rides for a workout
-I seldom drink bottled water but tap water with homemade syrups if I feel like having a soft drink
-I seldom drink soft drinks
-I do not throw away plastic bottles. I reuse every plastic bag I have to accept up to a hundred times.
-I make tools and provisions for myself from other people´s crap
-I teach children that doing it the tribal way is fun and adventure, I teach them how to repair things and make new ones from other people´s crap

Please do not take this as a pointed finger. Those are my personal challenges, and I do not always succeed. But I keep on trying.

And that´s the culprit of it all: It´s hard to live in a world of assholes, yup.

But we are many. And you are not alone, even if we seldom can talk to each other. But rest assured: You are beautiful. You are perfect.

For you try hard to become someone better than you were. Have no fear!

And feel hugged.

JONNE Järvelä: Metsään on iäksi mieli Official Music video.

Freitag, 13. Februar 2015

Jagd und Hund Expo 2015 part II - old and new encounters

No Jagd und Hund expo visit would be complete without an encounter with this friendly gentleman and his wife. Mr. Janos Madaras always has a lot of great tools on display, from his razor-sharp and beautifully finished knives to his woodworking tools. We cannot communicate other than with smiles and gestures and my bad and little Hungarian, but there´s little need to do so. The respect we have is mutual, and that´s all there needs to be.
 Fine blades with a charmingly rustic finish. I love the contrast between the hammer-peened surface and the highly polished hollow grind that´s more of a razor grind.
 His knives are tempered to a flexible hardness and most come in at 57 HRC. Only a barbarian would use them for batoning, but they are great knives for light camping, hunting, and snacking.
 Talking of which, lovely table cutlery.
 Damascus woodworking chisels anyone? He sold his Damascus knives at absolutely bargain prices, and could easily charge double the price. Handforged Damascus hunting knife for 150€ anyone?

His whittling knives are great to boot. I own several of them and I can say they work like a cinch.

Then I was off to another booth. Maqson knives are produced in Pakistan. Mrs. Maqbool however lives in Germany. She´s a German with a Pakistani background, and with her partner offered a variety of different knives.

 I especially loved the bushcraft knife in the middle, with a nice and thin blade and a solid feel out of high carbon steel, presumeably 1095.
 I do not know if this is a traditional Pakistani shape, but it is looking great and felt good in the hand.
 Folding knives. Those held little appeal to me, even if they were, for the most part, well made.

Those iron age knives came in way too cheap. I could whine about how they smash my market, but instead will go back to the drawing board. I just have to be better;-). I currently need half an hour for one, resulting in a price of 35€. I have to learn how to forge them in ten minutes.
We´ll see what time brings;-). Anyway, the scrolls are finely made!

 S-hooks...scuse me sir, do you have other letters as well?;-)
 Damascus iron age knives...
 Damascus rings...
 Billets, all from 1095 and 15N20 steel.
 A beautiful replica of an iron age Celtic knife.
 Then I met with Stefan from BOS / nitecore/ Raffir. He is currently returning to Solingen after living in China for some ten years or so. I look forward to some more frequent meetings, bro!
 The ubiquitous Rolf was there also... he was working for Mr. Weber from Weber knives, and his boss was taking me aside while Rolf was in a selling frenzy whispering in awe :"This guy is obsessed"! Turns out he was a bit fond of Rolf´s enthusiasm and his laidback manner. I am, too, and was glad to meet him, even if he is an altogether different character.
 He had made this beautiful neckknife for himself from a historical Jagdnicker blade and camel bone.
 We had a nice chat, and then time was suddenly running out, and I had one visit to make still:
 Marc and Tobias from Boker were there as usual with their high-end line-up, selling knives with weird humour and enthusiasm. Another good-natured chat was made, and in a frenzy pics were shot...

 I love those Dozier design Arkansas skinners by Boker Plus.
 And some of you might like this knife also.
Suddenly all was over. I returned to Olaf and Heike´s booth and we talked a bit to schedule my work and to chat a bit about this and that. Then I got outside into this somewhat eerie, ghostly light.

It was a  very intense and controversial experience. I have taken home many inspirations and a lot to think about, some delicious food and a Damascus knife.

But it all was a bit unreal.

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