A few months back I welded up a bunch of steel cable and forged this little bracelet. I’ve made a few more since. This one is still my favorite.
So I’ve been abnormally busy lately learning to do something a bit new for me. I hope to talk more about it soon.. But the NC state fair wasn’t so long ago!
Several NCABANA members and I were all there demonstrating blacksmithing for record numbers of people. It was an awful lot of fun. I made some neat things, even tried some new projects I hadn’t practiced before and let a crowd watch as I scratched my head and struggled with learning a new item or two. We answered many questions and maybe even inspired a few people young and old to take a more active interest in the craft.. But mostly I made and sold leaves and bottle openers oh, and my favorite change of pace.. leaf bottle openers..
Check out the art inspired by the experience in the Pirate Blacksmith webcomic
A lot of my writing and how-to stuff has sat on the back burner. With the NC state fair coming up I’ve been busy with projects big and small here are a few of the small heart themed ones.
I had a fun time this weekend attending an event at Yates Mill in Raleigh with Solvarr! There was good food, lots of corn talk and music. If you’ve never been there, the lake is beautiful and the mill is a marvel.
The highlight of my day was getting to help out around the forge. I demonstrated how I make one piece steel roses.
I wish I had a photo of me working, but sadly I forgot to ask. If Ashley was there’ she’d have taken twice as many photographs. Alas I love to swing a hammer not take pictures. She’s been busy lately and has even started he own blog!
With out further adieu Yates Mill:
In lieu of a lengthy post I’m just sharing some photo’s from a demonstration my wife and I had a chance to help out with at the Joel Lane house in Raleigh, NC. Their fourth of July celebration was a lot of fun, great music, lots of crafts and good food. If you’re ever in the area give them a visit. The museum is a lovely place. The grounds are wonderfully maintained and attractive. A very friendly group of people working together to keep history alive and it’s mostly done by volunteer efforts so if you drop by consider making a donation.
A cordial ‘gent and I got together not so long ago. He’s retired but still works as a hot dog vendor. When he dropped in with a real nice custom cart in tow. It was a simple enough task and a while later I’d finished. He asked for one thing done but mentioned some other things he’d like done. I told him I’d make him something simple and affordable to get the job done, and something with a little more visual appeal.
I really like making functional stuff. It’s satisfying to make a tool to specifications and attempt to make it visually appealing. But it’s difficult for me to put a price tag on the stuff I make. It’s this odd double standard in my mind on value. I got into this kind of work because of a sort of independence. I’ve always liked making things and it never made sense to me buying something or paying someone to do something I could do myself. If someone needs something I don’t ever want to send them home empty-handed; I’m not the type to take advantage of someone who needs help. But I’m a man who wants to build a business out of a hobby so I have to think about money. With as much of myself that’s intertwined into everything I do it’s almost enough to make me feel a bit like, pardon me, a whore. How do you put a price tag on a piece of yourself? Especially if you’re the sort of person that prefers to make things instead of buy ’em. I understand a majority of the factors to consider but I’m no true business minded man. The next day I gave the ‘gent a price for any two of the three pieces, and another price for all three. The fellow kindly took all three and seemed satisfied.
I’m very found of making things from steel and sometimes I just have to ask.. how did they do that? Our rich human history of creation is an infinite pool of knowledge to wade through for inspiration. The wealth of research available is engrossing. I’ve found myself wondering about digital copies of books. Their scans seem dusty and to smell of musk like walking through a damp, gray tomb of knowledge.. Admittedly it could be my imagination. Or more likely the lack of a good shower wafting about. =)
I digress. I’m very thankful to live in an age where knowledge is abundant.
One of mans oldest tools is the file. A cutting tool like the saw. The two are nearly as ancient as the knife and it’s cousin with a little more leverage, the ax. Rocks, gems, bones and fish spines can be used to remove material for crafting. Modern files and rasp are easily recognized as the descendant’s of these ancient tools. Metal working files were known around the world in some form of another. 14th century Europe had a change in architecture and culture lead to more ironwork being refined cold with file work becoming abundant. By the 17th century file making would have been a full-time endeavor for some. A file cutter would take a shaped piece of annealed steel ground smooth with a stone or file. He’d strap it firmly to a work block or anvil with a softer metal between the file blank and anvil. Then teeth were cut into the file by hand on both sides. As many as 60 to 80 blows per minute could be delivered by an experience cutter. The angle of the chisel was dependent on the aggressiveness of the file desired but it could be between 40-65 degrees. Next the file was carefully hardened and tempered depending on the type of steel and file.
For more information on files check these out:
The File In History
The Manufacturer and builder, Volume 26 (page 280) 1894
File-Making by Hand and Machinery from “The Manufacturer and Builder” November, 1889
The legend of the knife from a file
(update – This is a really nice blog entree about file making)
On a personal note. The studio has been organized, an office arranged and we’ve switched Internet service providers. A faster network has finally reached our neck of the woods here Clayton, NC.
Most recently a lot of my time has been spent organizing photos and a bit of modern file work. I do most of my reading, writing and photo work on a faithful ol’ laptop running Ubuntu; occasionally I migrate toward the desktop as I familiarize myself with google sketch-up so the two are not far from one another.
It’s been darn near a hundred in the shade lately. But I’ve been trying to stay hydrated by the forge. I’ve been practicing leaves. And well I have some more stuff for the ugly side of my next installment the good, bad and the ugly. But I liked these from the other day: