Mittwoch, 21. März 2018

On the bench: A new dangler sheath for my little sica

 Yesterday I mustered some resolve and got to work on a sheath for a knife that had been lying around in my workshop-turned-attic-turned-home-turned workshop ;-). The knife, a nearly accurate replica inspired by several finds from the Daco-Getian iron age ( and, just to name a few) had to help in making the sheath, and its performance in leatherworking was a big surprise to me. The dangler is handforged out of mild steel, and yes, the stitching DID see some rework... ;-)
 The sickle shape with the tiny, but pronounced tip makes for a very effective cutter. It gathers up the material like a claw and also makes for a very precise cut when cutting small curves. To make a sheath which was not overly huge but big enough to accomodate the shape was a pain in the arse, but turned out well enough considering my lack of practice.
 I must admit I am quite irrationally fascinated by this type of knife. It has a history as a peaceful farming tool and a herbalist´s knife and was an insign of the Mithraic mysteries and therefore of Roman state religion as well as a deadly weapon of the same back-alley cut-throats the Roman empire was so afraid of. In Romania, the sica continues to have a prominent symbolism in the stories of the Strígoi, the fairies of the land, and it was a Sica used to combat the vampires of of Transsylvanian local legends. In Stoker´s "Dracula" it became a Khukhuri that ended the vampire prince´s life, but the differences are marginal.

 It models the shape of the hunter´s moon´s crescent and all the spiritual aspects of its mythology as well as being a most formidable everyday tool. I daresay it is this ambivalence that adds to its fascination. It tells stories in itself, and I like that.
The blade, then is made from a stainless material I found in the woods, under a crescent moon, of course ;-). It is rich with Cobalt, and after a very conservative selective quench and temper came out so hard that it carves a Roselli UHC Wootz blade while retaining an astonishing degree of flexibility. I estimate it at about 62-63HRC. It does not take that fine an edge (yet), and I am still figuring out what the best edge angle might be. At the moment it shaves, but I feel there can be still more performance gotten out of it... we´ll see. It worked the leather well enough, better than most tools I bought for that task, and I could not ask for more! It seems to be some HSS steel or something along the lines, and there seems to be quite a fair amount of Chromium in the steel. It came out stainless out of the ground and takes no patina even after 72 hours in a salt-vinegar-citric acid solution that stains even 440B after 24 hours. Fact is, I don´t know what it is, and the culprit is, I need not know what it is. I did all the tempering intuitively, and it turned out well enough.

I am currently writing a local mythology and, doing some research, found that a sickle played a prominent role in local fairy legend as well. One could easily say that it is a fairy knife... and this, adding to the fact that I found the steel in the woods, adds to the mystique of the atmosphere... ;-)

This, originally was what I wanted to express with my knifemaking; the gift of the other world made flesh. The wonder that waits in the ordinary, for there are few things more profane than a rotten, rusty piece of scrap metal... and yet, from the most mundane, and in the most profane situation lurks a world that is deeper, darker and most profound. It is the realm of legends and fairy tales, of myth ad wonder and awe... there life and death are not antagonists, but aspects of the same coin.  It is the realm of intuition, and I loe to wader there for no reason but my amazement how beautiful this creation and all its creatures are- all of them.

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