Friday, June 09, 2006

June 10 Iron Smelt

Sorry for not getting my normal 2 - 3 per week articles up for this week.
Saturday is the first DARC experimental iron smelt for this year. Kind of a big operation, and more so for this one as I have invited a number of researchers from Ontario universities and museums, plus a some interested blacksmiths and other Early Medieval re-enactors up to observe.

Karen from DARC is organizing a Viking Age camp as a parallel event. This will not be up to presentation standards, as its been a while since the tents got set up. This will be an equipment shake down as much as anything else. I think her and Vandy have some textile work planned, as well as some campfire cooking.

At this point, early Friday morning, I'm a bit concerned about the weather. The forecast is for 30 - 40 % chance of rain and scattered clouds today. Not likely as is coming down light but constant right now - with a solid low deck of dark cloud. My pioneer sense tells me this means a long day of constant showers. Saturday is supposed to be scattered cloud but mainly sunny. The best news is the temperatures, which are predicted to be in the high teens. A bit cool for this time of year, but ideal smelting weather. (Not like last year when it was plus 35 here!)

The main feature of this smelt will be that Dave and Kevin are going act as the iron masters. They have been the primary assistants for the last DAC undertakings, most importantly the two Viking Age re-creations last year (June in Wareham and at CanIron V in Annapolis Royal). This will give them more direct experience in managing a smelt. It will also help keep me from rushing around like a crazy man. Normally I'm trying to manage the smelt as well as grab tools out of the shop (100 meters away). I'm hoping to get some slide reference shot and some video of the process.

Our smelter here is on the standardized pattern - a clay cobb cylinder about 25 cm ID and roughly 70 cm tall. This smelter is the first use of our new dedicated smelting area (described in earlier posts). The smelter is half dug into an earth bank, with ash / sand / charcoal back fill around it. This aspect is the only new factor to the smel, and we expect the smelter to be able to be patched and used several times. We will use about 15 - 20 kg of the roasted Virginia rock ore (thanks to Lee and Skip for the material). This should give us a bloom in the range of the artifact samples - roughly 5 - 8 kg.

Lloyd and some other smiths are coming over, and are keen to get involved in consoladation of the final bloom. This will give us some new fresh hands - with some hammering skills and experience with hot metal. Thanks to my bother Randy, we now have some good hard maple stubbs - each at 'smithing height', about 90 cm tall for this first process. Plan is to also construct and test out a ground pit forge specifically to heat the bloom during this process. Mike demonstrated this set up at Early Iron 2 last fall.

Anyway - stay tuned for the results and a quick report...

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

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