Mittwoch, 27. April 2016

On the bench- jewellry and crap steel...:-)

 Just a quick update on what is up to now: Arm ring from table cutlery...
 Another one from bronze...
 This one I found in the forest in a very strange manner: I followed two wild pigs into a holly thicket, and they just looked at me and began digging in the ground, looked at me again and went on their merry way... where they had dug, there was a junkheap of an old farmhouse, and there it was I found this piece of silver. Of course I had to punch a Celtic wild boar into it...
 Top to bottom: Three-layer laminate, Damascus, three layer laminate blades with reindeer antler, birchwood burr and bog oak from a mine in Witten.
...and a blacksmith´s knife from spring steel. That did not turn out too well....

Mittwoch, 20. April 2016

Somewhat of a stinky finger;-P

 Ron pointed out somewhat of a weak spot with me... fact is, I make a lot of knives. Noone wants to buy them, and many have a story that is quite personal, so I would not sell them. So I am left with a huge pile of metal.

You might ask, why is this guy THAT weird? ;-)

Let me try to shed some light on that. Ever since I was a kid I had those dreams that some kids often had once upon a time.

Let´s say I found a mythical sword that would be given to me and then I would be like the heroes of Yore, or whatnot. I dreamt about having a Balmung, Mimung or Escaliburnus (Excalibur) sword. Very early, however, maybe at the age of seven, when I forged my first knife with my father, I realized I did not want to just have it. I wanted to own it for sure, but I then realized I´d rather wanted to be able to make one myself. At the age of some nine years, I then realized, okay, that could provide some difficulties... so to say;-). But being that stubborn kid I was (and am) I decided to make myself a knife out of that steel.

What steel? What was it that made those swords that special?

So I started to read literature not commonly read by nine-year-old slightly overweight kids. Made me a bit weird, and most of the kids at school did not quite like the fact that I spoke Middle High German, Gothic and Old German and my heroes were not Take That, Milli Vanilli, Nena or whoever, but rather Sigurdr, Parzival, Erec, Thidrek or Dietrich von Bern, or especially Volundr (Wieland, Weland).

I made knives from every piece of scrap metal I could find. And I was always looking for steel in the woods, for that made sense to me. All these adventures took place in the woods, and where else should I look for steel for a mythical sword (or knife for that matter). Always there was one element missing. I completed school and was off to work... suffice to say, this did not turn out too well. I learned the metalworking skills I refined okay, but okay, suffice to say I went to the University to study literature. I learned a lot there, and it was that idea of a sword nagging at the back of my brain all of the time, or, more realistically speaking, to make a knife that sang. And while some of my tutors gave me great insight and really promoted my thirst for knowledge on that matter, others even mocked at me while denying me a rational or even academical reason to stop studying it, even when I asked for it.

Okay, zoom into the year 2016. I still haven´t found the ideal sword, at least not as a blade. The lady of the lake has not yet offered me Excalibur, because -as I understand now- that´s not how it was offered. Not in that manner, because this is metaphorical. I wasn´t strolling through the woods and there it was, the elven sword stuck into a stump shining in just one ray of moonlight.

No, I haven´t found the magical sword. I have made a lot of knives (and some few swords) that sing, and some that chant. Some sit on my shelf, some I have given away, some have been buried in the forest.

But on some strolls through the forest I found some steel. Some special and rare steel with properties that in the time of those legends would have been seen as legendary. The fact that you can easily explain these properties with simple metallurgy does not lessen the magic, as does the fact that you could produce a good blade, maybe even close to the "magical" properties of Yore with junkyard scrap steel.
What remains is knives like Úlenkláwe, Úlenfang, and this Nessmuk. They are practice pieces, if you look at it this way, on a path that will end with the forging of a sword and a knife that will become a myth in itself.

Yeah, as any human I know deep in my heart that I will die. Nothing I do will prevent this. But I hope to leave some positive impacts and traces on this world. Fact is, we live in a shitty world that has disenchanted itself into a state that is more similar to a manmade hell. They have told us a whole pile of rubbish, such as "no progress is regress", "innovate or die", "constant growth is the motor of social welfare". They are telling us lies and shit and the sorry thing is, they believe that crap themselves. We can´t make heads nor tails out of the idea of the sword. It´s the tank, the whip and the credit card we live by. We don´t worship God, or the old Gods. We worship Mammon, the God of money and the underworld, Mammon-Pluto. No wonder the world he rules looks like hell. But it´s not his fault, it´s ours.

The "magical" steel I have found in the woods actually is crap. It is junk discarded in the woods, for the woods are not sacrosanct either. They are to be exploited, and according to human reception, it is a mere coincidence that they still are a place where the "aventiure" can take place, the adventure, or just some breathing and peace are allowed, a place where serenity still reigns. It is never as important as making money. I like to test Christians by asking them, if their employer would ask them to dismiss religious service in favour of a Sunday´s work (with extra payment and the alternative of losing their job), what they would do. I asked maybe a hundred people who claimed to have a strong belief (and of course trying to pick at the splinter in my eye) that question. Not one of them did NOT ask me if I was insane, and of course they would go to work, and dismiss religious service, for you HAVE to make money. Spirituality is for wellness and leisure and BLAH.

My boss once made fun of my spirituality. She did that exactly ONCE. I still work for this corporation.

No, a "magical" sword would not make a shitty world right. No, violence is not an option. To really understand the spirit of the sword, you have to make it. You have to handle it. And then, with the spirit of the sword you will be able to destroy the idea of tank, whip and credit card in yourself. This is why I make knives and swords.

The lady of the lake will not reach out from the water to hand me over some flimsy chi-chi blade from these Hollywood movies. But there is this lake in the South of Germany, where a "kingdom was smitten" (The lay of Sir Gawain). In creeks and the lake itself you still find meteoritic ore and Fullerene crystals which at the time of Yore were used to forge weapons of excellence. This is where I am headed.

The Nessmuk is a myth come true... but it is but a waystone on the trail.

First try in repoussé technique on Úlenklawe´s hilt

I had this old tableware in fine silver lying around not doing anything, so I figured I ´s just try out some jewellery work for Úlenkláwe´s hilt. Might not look the part, but it should be an owl ;-D. Still a lot of room for improvement (I should have annealed it once more, to prevent the beak from tearing).  But for starters, I like it.

Donnerstag, 14. April 2016

Getting born from the forest´s twilight-Úlenkláwe wiärd báren...

 Slowly rising from the depth of my thoughts, from the deeper regions of my soul and the deep of the rich, black soil, from a wood contaminated with waste and poison, steel rose to the surface, neglected by all but me. A chisel I found and lit my forge. I assumed it was a modern HSS steel...
...but it is not. For the first time being, a really distinct Wootz pattern showed. I forged a Sica from it.

In the Roman empire, a lot of styles of blades were imported from all over the empire. The Sica, hailing from the Dacian people´s realm, and the sickle knife of the cisalpine Celtic people, and some Semitic styles blended into each other to form a knife that saw a lot of use as an everyday knife.

But as empires as totalitarian regimes always have enemies within, there was a group of people named the "Sicarii", back alley cut-throats and murderers who set out on Roman executive. The Sica thus was getting a somewhat sinister reputation. Roman knife - laws banned non-native inhabitants of Rome from using knives longer than one "palmus" (roundabout 76 mm blade length). Suffice to say that back-alley murderers just hid their sicae in their flowing tunics and cloaks. Assassination of Roman executives reached a soaring height afterwards. So much for the efficiency of knife-laws.

While I am not at all agreed with any assassin and believe that violence can never be a solution, but in fact poses a problem, the very shape of the blade is an expression of all things wild. Following the line of a golden ratio spiral, it exemplifies one of the ways life is sprouting from the forest´s soil that is so rich with secrets and life. And like a fern´s sprouting sapling rises from the dark, steel that has long been lying submerged under scales of flaking rust, is reborn into the light. It reaps the herbs and due to its very origin, it is a talisman to me. It speaks of life and death, and its ambivalence is that of the forest´s sic et non. While the line of the edge points forward like a whiplash, the triskell points into the other direction to calm the dynamics; the phallic line on the blade itself goes back into the notch that serves the same function as the cho on a Khukhuri. The meanders on the handle again work into the other direction of the triskell.

While things do not fall against gravity, so to say, there is a way magic works. It works its way from root and grain and soil and soul-into the world.

Those alien woodland worlds

 After a really shitty day at work I almost ran to the bus to get "out there". It was nearly a run into the thicket, where I at once had a sit-down and did some breathing to prepare myself to get into the woods. You do not want the filth "they" contaminate your soul with to bring along, don´t you? So I usually find it helpful to just do some breathing to calm down and realize their reign is broken beneath the crown of green.
 Under the holly bush, in the twilight of death´s shadow and the ever-sparkling vibrant life, the well renews itself with pristine power. Powerless is the world of fools, even if they could destroy the forest in the blink of an eye... for this is their defeat. And as life always regenerates in the woods, so my soul is soothed in the twilight realms of life and death.
 He who has to ask, will never understand; he who knows, knows not how to speak of it. It always sounds like the mumbling of a fool in the face of the forest. I got up and followed a path of childlike joy, balancing over moss-covered tree, over stump and rock and leaf and grass.
An old path I trod in my childhood lies there, overgrown now and lost to everyone but me and wildlife. Two young wild pigs burst out of the thicket, fleeing at first, but then stopping to look at me and sniff me out. Then, when I was already a bit freaked out, they just turned and casually strolled away. It was a beautiful feeling. A herd of deer strode through the woods at a distance, and the buzzard flew above, uttering his eerie cries.
Slowly and stealthily I trod the pathway towards the lake where I grew up.
It might be changed, but remains unchanged still.
The stump of a tree that fell when I was a kid now is host to young birches sprouting vibrantly the leaves of a new year´s life.
Deep blue the lake lay under a steely sky. The sun was warm and welcome after a long grey winter...
...and slowly and surely, the strange world become mine. Mine is the world of the root and rock, of grain and structures and the rustling of leaves. MIne is the path unseen. Mine is stealth and wildness...
With root and rock I wander along the ancient oaken ways deep in the grain.
The sun, warming, shines upon the pond, deep and dark, in the forest´s twilight secrets are kept...
..and treasures are found of iron and ore. In an ancient farmhouse´s ruin´s dumping site I found two wrenches and a lot of bronze.
Those are treasures of the deep, of death, and sing a violent song. And while the forest provides these, too, I also relished in the treasures of green.
Brought home some wild garlic for sandwiches;-).

It was an outing that let me utterly forget about what insanity does to us every day.

They cannot win. Not at all. Even if they destroy this world... the universe is far too big to destroy for them. They are alien to life and they are the bringers of doom; they are prey to the grey god, and, while evil, they are to be pitied.

The woods are alien, strange to mankind, and the animals shun those who are legion. When you rediscover the wilderness within your soul, you will be alien to man; but the forest will slowly, and silently embrace you.

Montag, 11. April 2016

On the bench these days...;-)

Top to bottom: Damascus blade, spring and file steel-ring hilt EDC, forged from an old wrench, skinning knife, a three-layer laminate blade, a bushcraft knife with less than 1% stock removal, and a heart pendant. To the left two chasing tools from forged HSS steel.

Mittwoch, 6. April 2016

Whittling a bear´s head with a bushcraft knife

On a recent bimble I came across this lovely piece of pine wood and thought to get some whittling practice in. Now many people argue you can´t do delicate stuff with a bushcraft knife... but it´s always the swimming pants if the peasant can´t swim (as we say in Germany...);-). So I thought I´d make a bear´s head. First I removed the bark
Carved a step for the ears and a second for the snout
Thinned out the snout
Made a notch for the ears with the knife´s tip.
Then I flattened the sides of the snout.
Elaborated the snout and carved in some eyes...
...more detailing work
Carved the mouth... this... grrraaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr;-)!!!!
Carved out the hindmost part of the head.
Then I saw there´s an owl at the back of the head of the bear... symbolically interesting, if you ask me...;-), so next time it will be an owl... I´ll keep you posted!

Úlenklawe wiärd báren (Owl´s claw is getting born;-))

 Okay, here they come.. some progress shots of my Sica, now aptly named Úlenklawe. In my local vicinity there was a special language spoken (some elderly people still speak it). It is called Nether German and has close affinity to Dutch and even English. I am lucky to have been one of the last people to learn some of it and to deepen my knowledge at the university. I find the sinister Reputation of the Sicarii in the Roman empire inspiring, and was needing to express some of my own feelings along the lines of this conceptual piece. The owl hunts stealthily, and stealth is what I want to achieve. Not for any sinister reason ;-), but to blend into the forest in skóggángr practice. Also, the line of the blade follows a whiplash line, making it very effective in slashing strokes and freehand cutting as well as whittling and harvesting herbs. It has a very dynamic feel to it.
 I used the elder Futhark runes to carve the name into the integral bolster. By the way, the blade is forged from an old HSS chisel I found in the woods. The piece above is reindeer antler carved with a meander pattern. The handle itself is desert iron wood that will see some carving, too.
Of course, the overall concept is anachronistic, but for me exemplifies an essence of what is wild and ferocious in the woods. It is the "black-handled knife" of a druid, to an-alyse away what is not necessary in the spiritual and intellectual world, and a knife to draw out a border-not against the world of demons or sprites, but against humans who are the demons of our time.

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