Friday, March 16, 2007

Experimental Iron Smelting Disk Released

Experimental Iron Smelting from the Viking Age (CD-ROM)
ISBN 978-0-9783284-3-6

Official release - March 15, 2007

This disk is the revision of the earlier 'Iron Smelting in the Viking Age' (released in 2004). The new disk contains the information on the experimental smelts up to November 2006. This represents a substantial increase, with as many smelts undertaken in 2006 alone as in
all the years previous. The collection now details over 22 smelts, as
well as new supporting materials. An important contribution is the full
content of the Dark Ages Re-creation Company web site documentation
designed and largely written and photographed by Neil Peterson. This
section makes up a mere fifth of the new total, which combined amounts
to roughly 660 megabytes of data! There are now almost 2000 images, most
as large detailed 16 x 20 size. Each smelting experiment also includes
the data detailing the smelt sequence, plus field drawings of the
smelter set up.

The disk also includes an overview of the three Early Iron
Symposiums to date (2004 - 2006). In keeping with my involvement with
Early Iron, the disk includes detailed instructions on the construction
and firing for two simple test smelters. The 'Econo Norse' smelter was
developed by DARC, and instructions for using the 'Flue Tyle' smelter
have been provided by Skip Williams.

Although the experiments are not generally formatted with
conclusions, there are comments accompanying the most of the
photographs. Of interest to more academic researchers may be 'Adventures
in Early Iron Production' a formal paper I presented at the 'Friends of
the Medieval Studies Society of the Royal Ontario Museum' 1st Annual
Symposium in March 2006.

Much has been learned. On a good day, it now is most likely that
when the furnace is opened at the end of the smelt there will be a
workable iron bloom resting down inside. Much valuable experience has
been gained towards developing a predictable sequence for a successful
smelt. An understanding is being learned of just what sights and sounds
are significant, of which elements may help or hinder the outcome. The
series has stepped back from the first stumbling attempts, with more
dependable modern equipment replacing largely speculative historic
re-creations. Now that iron can be produced with reasonable certainty,
the next challenge will be to slowly replace all the modern tools with
their historic counterparts. The adventure continues!

The creative advice and shared experience of a number of
individuals have helped me gain a better understanding of turning 'dirt
into metal'. I have done my best to credit those ideas and inspirations
contributed by others - the disk contains a detailed set of
acknowledgments. Certainly my own understanding would have remained
limited without the guidance and friendship of Lee Sauder, Skip Williams
and Mike McCarthy. The sequence of experiments would have simply been
impossible without the team spirit and physical efforts of the other
members of DARC. Especially this applies to the core smelt team of Neil
Peterson, Dave Cox and Kevin Jarbeau, who also feature so prominently in
the images.


No comments:


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

COPYRIGHT NOTICE - All posted text and images @ Darrell Markewitz.
No duplication, in whole or in part, is permitted without the author's expressed written permission.
For a detailed copyright statement : go HERE