Wednesday, March 27, 2013

How far we've come?

Paleolithic stone flake blades. Japan - 13,000 BC

Forged iron blades. England - c 900 AD
'Mosaic Damascus' by Conny Persson *
I have spent a big chunk of my morning desk time the last week working up one of my presentations for Forward Into the Past (April 6, Laurier University, Waterloo):
The Cutting Edge : Considering Blades [Lecture - Rm 110 - 3:30 pm]
Cutting tools have been with us as long as we have been human. Stone, copper, bronze, iron - all these materials have determined the possibilities and influenced the shapes of blades. The bladesmith has long cloaked his craft in mystery, often to the confusion of the end user. This session will be a free wheeling look at both historic artifacts and a peek at techniques of the bladesmith. As well as attempting to suggest the correct common types for specific historical periods, consideration will be given on how to select and care for knives and other bladed tools. 
As the presentation developed, it became more and more centred on the development of blade raw materials, and how they have influenced the basic possible shapes.

Two things that always strikes me, when I look at the actual archaeological record:
1) The fundamental blade profiles are ancient in origin.
2) For almost all of Human History, working knives have been small - in the range of 7.5 - 10 cm blades (3 - 4 inches)

Although *modern* bladesmithing *art* is dominated by exotic alloys, elaborate processes, and complex ornimentation, this is very much different that the majority of cutting edges through history. Many of both the materials and methods seen in contemporary high end bladesmithing simply *did not exist* before the middle of the 20th Century.

* Hopefully this credit is correct. I scammed that image from a posting to a general discussion group, sourced out of Google Images. Nice work!

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

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