Thursday, January 05, 2012

Composing an F&Q

- As regular readers know, I often rant about the less than well thought out questions I get asked. The instant nature of e-mail and the internet spawns (increasingly) way too many e-mails, asking questions that are covered in full inside the Wareham Forge web site - or here on Hammered Out Bits.


"I have never done any blacksmithing and I want to make knives. Is there a one day course to teach me?"

Short - No

Long :
Forging blades successfully requires considerable hammer control. And how to make a number of basic shapes. And how to carefully judge temperatures. Then how to forge actual blades.
An extremely talented student *might* be able to forge a simple blade on the second day of a special two day program. I don't advise this however. Take a basic level course, then PRACTICE forging, *then* take the regular two day 'Introduction to Bladesmithing' course.

"I want a copy of this thing by another artisan (insert image from internet here). Can you make it?"

Short - Yes - but I *will* not.

Long :
Go to the original artist who made the thing in the first place.
I do not copy the original work of other artisans. I most certainly will *not* work cheaper.
I will discuss creating a new original design *inspired* (but significantly modified) by the works of other artisans.

"Can you make this thing faster / cheaper than the commercial version."

Short - No

The reason commercial products are cheaper and faster is that machines are set up to allow for high volume production. I make every object individually, one at a time. There is no 'economy of scale' involved.
Remember the 'Iron Triangle' : you can have something cheap, you can have something fast, or you can have something *good* - but only *one* of those. The aspect that is sure to suffer if you want it cheap and or fast is having any kind of good quality. You will get *exactly* what you pay for.

"I want this thing made in a movie / comic / illustration / game. Can you make it?"

Short - Yes, but you will not like it.

Long :
Anything seen in a fantasy, is just that - a fantasy. Objects in the real world are constrained by materials, and physics. You can NOT effectively swing a 15 lb sword. A chain mace the size of a basket ball will weigh 100 lbs.
I *can* create replicas of these fantasy objects, but because I use *real* materials and methods, the end result will be display objects (at best).

"Why does it take so long to make (insert complex object here)?"

Short - Good work takes time, and I do more than just hammer.

Long :
Developing skill takes years, and years cost you strength, I'm certainly 'better' than I was at 35, but those 20 plus years have taken a physical toll.
Don't forget the time for setting up and prototyping. Since almost everything I make is a one of a kind original object, each piece is a potential voyage of discovery.
Running a business (at any level) requires so much more than just making things. On an average day I spend roughly 10 hours on 'work', but a real productive day for me has only 2 - 3 hours actually at the forge.
I make each object one at a time, and projects are scheduled as individual commissions are finalized.
Depending on time of year, there is teaching, demonstrating, documentation, research, maintanence... all to be undertaken as well.
See : the Iron Triangle.
This is a work in progress. I hope to add the finished list to the web site in a week or two. (Yea, I know, if they are not reading the information already available...)

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

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