Sunday, December 17, 2017

Blast from the Past

... on several levels.

I  have slowly been working through scanning the better part of 20 years of colour slides into digital format. Most of these are reference - taken at museums, living history sites or workshop events.

Here are a few from a trip to Stirbridge Village, Mass. Should have been 1990.

Foot Powered Treadle Hammer

Overall View
Hammer & Die (diagonal bar seen is support when not in use)
Planks forming the 'spring'
This is a very simple construction, in use allowing the heavier leg muscles to provide the motion, and the inertia of the heavy head the striking force.

The major element is the heavy log (was hardwood about 16 x 16 inches) that provides the stable base for the hammer. It is also a fair size, I remember it as about 8 - 10 feet long.
The hammer head pivots on a simple bar driven between the pair of upright supports.
The hammer is held at rest by being attached, via a chain, to a set of thin planks. These need to be quarter split (dead straight grain). There were several of these, each about 1/2 inch thick, attached to the rear of the beam.
The hammer was attached to a foot lever, which extended down the right side of the beam, to a suitable position for the operator's right foot at the front. (not seen in these images unfortunately). The attachment I remember as having some combination of offset and split linkage (?) reducing the impact shock and spring effect from the hammer lifting.

How it works:
The operator balances back on the left foot.
Push down with the right, which pushes the hammer down against the spring of the planks.
On impact of the head on the metal being worked, the operator allows his driving foot to stop pushing.
The spring planks then lift the head back upwards.
Repeat as the spring pressure stops, driving the head back down for a second impact.
The operator and spring combination is actually just working to oscillate the head up and down - not force it. It is the inertia of the hammer head that creates the force.

I watched the blacksmith at Stirbridge work 1 x 1 stock on this - pretty much draw to a short point in one heat.

Circa 1830's design, if not earlier. Still effective...


This basic principle is the same that is used for the the original ABANA 'push / pull' small air hammer. I have an early version of this type in my own workshop:
50 lb air hammer (light blue) in the corner of the forge area
My air hammer was built by David Robertson, way back about 2000. It is rated for 1 1/2 x 1 1/2 stock - but has been used for as heavy as 1 1/2 x 4 (!). David's current versions (which he sells) are significantly better in design, operation, and stability. One limitation of the type is that it requires a large stand alone air compressor for working air.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

'Ypres - 2016' Finishing

If you have been following for a while, readers may remember a series of posts I made around my trip to Ypres Belgium in 2016. Although primarily to attend the international blacksmithing event in early September, I also wanted to visit the World War One sites in that area.

This can be considered the finishing up of a chain that started for me back in late December 2015 - into January 2016. This was background research into the shattered landscape of Ypres because of WW. I had made a number of postings through 2017 year related to the topic. Most useful here is likely 'Ypres 1916' on October 21, 2016.

While Ypres, I took time to walk battle fields. Later on that trip, I was able to take some workshop days in the ceramics department at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop. Part of the result of all this, taken together, were the group of pieces seen on that earlier post (above).

I considered for a good while exactly how to finish the work.
In the end I decided, mainly because of the small size, to mount the pieces. I chose a photograph, attributed to 'the Daily Mail', of the centre of Ypres after the long bombardments.

'Ypres 1916' ceramic (Tocco Ferro) / photograph (click for original 10 x 16 size)
I think the view is roughly from the current Menin Gate Memorial, looking west towards the shattered Cathedral.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

from England - 1989 (Wanna see some slides?)


Those of you old enough may remember that.
The meal dishes cleared, the coffee out. 
The host says 'Come and see my (vacation) slides!'

I can hear the groans back over the 40 + years...

Close friends know I'm still not over this. At least now I tend to just leave the computer set on a rotation, in the background corner (mainly, ok?).
Photography was the on consistent class I undertook during my 4 years at art school. I used to purchase black and white film in bulk, and wind my own cans. Developing chemicals were available in the film lab at no cost. We did have to purchase our photo paper. As a result I have thousands of negatives, maybe a dozen prints mounted and saved.
Colour Slides?
A few from first year OCA - which would be 1975.
Got serious on colour in 1976. Almost exclusively as slides.
Switched to Digital in 2008.*

the Horror...
On a fast guess - there must easily be 5000 slides

In terms of 'art' shots, my objective has always been to attempt 'one good out of five'. Sometimes I managed this (but there is a lot more junk than good image making).
As I got interested in History, I took increasingly large numbers of reference images. Bets are off on that stuff. I count at least 500 images just from specific museum collections. The trip to England referenced in the title here saw me shoot 20 rolls of 20 exposures (about 375 retained images).

So - that all being said :

Here are a few images from the 1989 'all museums' trip to London, York and Dublin. This set from the Yorkshire County Museum (roughly a block from the more famous Coppergate site.)
(by the way - I am going to be kind, and keep the images to the ongoing theme of Viking Age / Blacksmithing.) **

Yorkshire Museum - Roman period
Interesting because of the cut location. Possible strike from the right side, or more likely as a second blow in a series, the first a typical head shot blocked by the shield, the killing blow from a flip of the wrist, returning the sword across the head (left to right) just as the shield was lowered. (??)
(I can't remember if the damage to the right face was weapon or after deposit.)

Yorkshire Museum - Viking Age leather shoe
One of the features of the archaeology of York is the long occupation of the site (at least to Roman times). The occupation is along the river - so the excavations go down to waterlogged soil. This has permitted the excellent preservation of many organic materials; wood, leather, even textiles.

Yorkshire County Museum - Celtic Iron Age cast bronze mounts
What amazed me here was the D shaped mount to the lower left in this image. I had seen a virtually identical mount in the British Museum - only rendered in gold. Given the similarity in colour of the bronze mount seen here, is this a 'lower end' copy? (You can just imagine the artisan saying 'Look - just like the one the King has...')

More to come...


* I was pretty much forced into Digital.
My much loved, trusty, and almost industructible Yashica TL Electro, became unusable. The camera was fine. I could no longer find the battery required to run the light meter (despite frantic on line searches). Coupled with Kodak stopping making the Ectacrome 400 slide film (or almost anyone else). In Canada, only Carmen's Photo was still even processing slide film at that point. 

** Through this series, I will be generally posting the 'raw scans':
- From original 35 mm colour slides 
- Given the age of many of these, there may show excessive dust / scratching / etc
- Scanned using Epson C370 flatbed photo scanner
- Output image is at 150 dpi at 6 x 4 inch size
- The only correction has been to rotate as needed (unless noted)

Saturday, November 25, 2017

the Runes (part 5)

This commentary, in several parts, was sparked by a recent request to create a set of rune marked tiles as a custom order. 

The first time I wrote a commentary on the topic of 'Mystic Runes' was back at the very start of this blog (December 12, 2006).
The second part was seen recently 'the Norse Runes' (November 22, 2017)
The third part was seen recently 'the Historic Use of Runes' (November 23, 2017
The fourth part was seen recently 'Evidence of 'Mystic' Runes' (November 24, 2017)
NOTE: My intention with this series is to place the topic of Runes and Rune Lore into a purely archaeological context.
 

'Casting the Viking Runes'

Through this discussion, I have used two Wikipedia articles as a major reference (*).
For an informed overview, from the perspective of archaeology and history, I would recommend reading both of the articles (links below), which do have quite different points of view.

The 'Rune Magic' (2) article does attempt to trace the historic origins of the modern system of using rune marked tile sets as a divination method:
- Johannes Bureus / 1600's / 'based on visions'
- Guido von List / 1902 / 'revealed'
- Ralph Blum / 1982 / 'first book on runic divination' (**)

Comparing academic history to contemporary 'Rune Magic':

The Runes as used during the Viking Age
Modern 'Viking Runes' tile set - made / photo by Runologe
The Elder Futhark - screen capture from Wikipedia - Runes (1)
R. Blum's arrangement of Runes (scan from 'The Book of Runes'
So what is clear is that the letter forms used in modern Rune divination are in fact not the actual set of letters used during the Viking Age ( c 800 to 1000 AD).


Once again, I must stress that I am not attempting in any way to comment on the value of the modern practice of 'Casting the Runes'.

However, as can be seen through this series, there is no direct archaeology to support this modern practice as existing in the actual Viking Age itself.


(*) The 'Runes' article is primarily an academic form, describing the development and historic use of the Runes in Northern Europe. There is only a short reference to Runes as a divination tool.
The 'Rune Magic' article is primarily focused on the development of the Runes as a divination system.

(**) I have access to two versions of contemporary Rune Casting sets:
Ralph Blum / 'The Book of Runes' / 1982
Blum does include two bibliographies - one of more academic sources, a second he titles 'Guides to the Transformational Process'
Blum suggests variations of the 'three stone' system indicated by Tacitus.
Horik Svensson / 'the secret of the Runes' / 1995
Svensson does not indicate any references.
Svensson suggests far more elaborate casting system, including the use of a marked cloth target.


(1) Wikipedia - Runes
 
(2) Wikipedia - Rune Magic
 

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

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