Saturday, October 21, 2017

Imagined at the ROM

As part of my recent two week teaching gig at Haliburton College's Artist Blacksmith program, I supervised students on a two day field trip to Toronto. The major component of this was visiting the Royal Ontario Museum.

One of the assignments students were given was to document two objects seen at the ROM which interested them. They were to record via drawings (or possibly photographs) and notes what the object was, some indication of where it was located, and especially what aspect tweeked their attention.

I came home with a page of (too brief) notes and about 20 images.
A lot of those were intended as reference on just what historic iron objects the ROM currently has on display (not that many I must report).

In terms of 'imagination' - these are what caught my eye as I rushed about supervising the students :

Bone plated skull of an ancient armoured fish.
Dish shaped protective scales of an ocean living dinosaur.

Bundles of fossilized cartilage (?) along the spine of another.

Skull of an ichthyosaurus.
When you consider forged materials, I think you can see why I am drawn bones in general, and ancient fossils specifically.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Wareham Forge makes the News ...

... as in 'ThorNews'

ThorNews describes itself as 'a supplier of Norwegian Culture' - with a very heavy load of Viking Age topics represented.

Author Thor Lanesskog had chosen to use an image of a group of replica spears I had made to help illustrate today's blog post :

The Viking Age Spears – “The Ones Who Stare from a Long Distance”


" The majority of the spears are decorated with fish bone patterns, pattern forged along the middle of the blade " 

I sent back a bit of a clarification :

The 'forged pattern' is the result of welding layers of soft and hard iron metals together, then twisting and welding again, most typically to form the core part of a blade. There are some (unresolved) questions about why this method, called 'pattern welding' in archaeology, was undertaken originally. It can provide functional advantages, especially for long blades (so with swords). It may be as simple as building up a larger block when all the smith had were small pieces. The techniques were also clearly used for their decorative effects. Spears using pattern welding a very good example.
'Wolf's Tooth' actually refers to a specific effect caused by a specific method of working with the starting layered bars. I would refer you to the work of British blacksmith Owen Bush, who I know has investigated how to duplicate those specific patterns. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

DARC at Vinland - view through ExARC

Building the Iron Smelting Furnace

Neil Peterson, with additions from DARC members Marcus, Kate and Karen, has had a very complete summary of the group's July 2107 presentation at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC published in the journal ExARC.

To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary and the 20th anniversary of the historical interpretation program at L’Anse aux Meadows, NHSC, Parks Canada invested to extend their regular staff with a 10 day special program. Darrell Markewitz, the designer of the original program, and the Dark Ages Recreation Company (DARC) returned once again to this UNESCO World Heritage site to interact with the staff and public and mount displays of various craft activities.

The article details the public presentations and experimental archaeology projects carried out over the 11 day stay by a total of 14 DARC members.
Mounting such a major display, 3000 km from home base in Ontario, represents a major effort for DARC.

Next up for the group? 

Participating in the Royal Ontario Museum's presentation of 'Vikings' - a traveling exhibit from the Swedish History Museum

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Art at SSW #3 - 'Legacy'

... a proposal for a public arts project
continuing my consideration of object as cultural history.

 Archaeology is the study of 'what is left behind - which still remains'. Trash is often the source material (and often the most illuminating).

While at Lumsden, I undertook a number of walks around the local area. Several of these were in part along the main access road that runs through the centre of Lumsden, from Rhynie (to 'north') or Alford (to 'south').
There is surprisingly less trash along the sides of the roads generally in rural Scotland, in comparison to along the back dirt roads around my own home in Wareham for example. I'd put part of this down to the fact almost all cars in Scotland are standard transmission - and the roads are both narrow and twisty, requiring frequent shifting of gears. So drivers rarely can have a coffee or drink to hand, I was told that actually this was not legally allowed (?).
I did notice, walking along route A97, was that what trash there was, most commonly was aluminum beer cans. (This may also be because, unlike in Ontario, there is no deposit / return system in place.) Perhaps not surprisingly, the most commonly recovered cans were from the cheapest brands - Tennent's primarily. (Draw your own conclusions there!)

Aluminum is extremely durable in the environment, with a 'decomposition life' measured in centuries (1).
Here in Canada, plastic beverage containers often outnumber aluminum cans found along the roadside. 

So what is it we will leave behind?

'Legacy' project proposal - at SSW : August 2017

'Legacy' is a proposal which would combine a number of elements.

- The structure is a simple pyramid shaped framework, measuring 4 x 4 feet at the base and standing about 6 feet tall. (2) This framework would be made up of structural angle on the outside edges, with a series of cross bars welded in place horizontally at about 6 inch spacing.
- Along the cross bars, set to about 4 inch spacing, would be welded a series of simple nails. The ideal would 1 1/2 long roofing nails, both in terms of ease of welding attachment (large heads) and short shafts for safety.
- Pushed on to the nails would be aluminum beverage cans and plastic drink bottles, collected as road side trash. On initial installation, only some of the attachment points would be covered with cans.
- A separate sign board would explain the concept and participation aspects of the project.

• The pyramid form references the Great Pyramids of Egypt. At roughly 4500 years old, these are some of the best known ancient human structures. (3)

• First level of public participation is continuing to 'build' the structure. Individuals will be encouraged, via the sign board to add additional trash cans and bottles to the remaining nail pegs. This would be accomplished by simply pushing objects on to the short points.

• A secondary benefit would be the continuing trash clean up of the area around the installation site - hopefully even beyond.

• It is hoped that the overall impact of the sculpture would be to raise awareness of both the problem of trash generation, and it's long term accumulation within the enviroment.

(1) Metallic aluminum, exposed to air in the natural environment, 'quickly' forms a dull, light coloured oxide film on its surface. This oxide is itself quite resilient to further corrosion, and harder than the metal underneath it. One estimate for the time it takes a standard aluminum beverage can to decompose is 200 - 500 years.

Plastic drink bottles have an estimated decomposition rate of roughly 450 years. (see same source).

(2) Because of the inherent stability of the shape, there would be no special mountings required. (The simplest support would be via four standard concrete 'deck blocks', set on the ground and roughly leveled.)

(3) Sourcing Wikipedia, Barnenez in France (a passage grave) is listed as the oldest human 'structure' (at 6850 years)

Artist Note : There may be a possibility to work this proposal into a format which would allow it to be submitted for the 2018 Elora Sculpture Project
I have had work chosen 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017

February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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