Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Forging a Norse Cook Pot

- A recent commission has been to create a replica of a Viking Age iron cauldron:

In the past I have made a number of versions, based on the cauldron from Bengtsarvet, Sweden. Graham-Campbell illustrates it in 'Viking Artifacts' as his object number 45 (photo on pg 220). He gives the museum credit as SHM 22293. This particular small iron sheet cauldron is depicted in a number of other references, but there only appear to be a couple of standard images available.

Now, Graham-Campbell gives the dimensions as ' height of 13 - 14 cm, and diameter of 22 cm'.
When I transpose those dimensions to a drawing, the result is a shape considerably shorter to width in proportion than what seen the photographs. Angle may have something to do with this, but frankly, my past reconstructions look 'more like the photograph' when I make the total height of the pot roughly the same as the diameter.

The image above is the finished replica for the commission. It is forged from 1/8 thick steel plate. (Unlike the earlier replica linked above, which was actually made from 4 mm antique wrought iron plate!)
The drawing seen is my layout, created by transposing the measurements given by Graham-Campbell. The actual dimensions of the replica are a bit different, with sizes limited by the available metal stock. The bottom bowl was cut from 23 cm (9 inch) wide material. Once again, this produces a pot that looks a lot more like the photograph - and not quite as close to the measurements given.
The handle seen in the image was NOT the handle used in the finial replica, by the way. The artifact uses a flat strip curved along its thin edge. This profile is considerably stronger, in fact well beyond what is required for such a small sized pot. That design is actually quite uncomfortable to the hand when picking up the full pot.

I did take the time to fully document the individual forming steps. The plan for this extensive series of still photos is to produce a short pamphlet (as a first stab with e-books) over the winter (watch for it!). I also filmed the major forging part - hot dishing the lower bowl:

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

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