Thursday, July 18, 2013

CanIRON 9 - personal view

I recently attended CanIRON 9 at Trois Rivieres, Quebec. Given the august company, I was quite honoured to be one of the demonstrators.

As you might expect, I actually did not  * see * much of the conference!

We arrived late Thursday night, hosted that evening by organizer Antoine Marcal. Antoine is a bladesmith of skill - and the only other Canadian who undertakes bloomery iron smelting as a regular process.

Friday, well to be perfectly honest, the weather was completely foul. Cold for late June, rain or drizzle  with gusting winds. It was set up and preparation day, with a certain amount of 'meet and greet' as both the other demonstrators and the conference members arrived. Food and beer on site (!!) in the evening, plus warm company, certainly cheered everyone's spirits.

CanIRON 9 would prove an event with relatively low attendance numbers, but intense activity and interaction between both demonstrators and the conference members. Those who might have stayed away fearing language problems certainly were proven to have made a big misconception. Everyone's broken French / English, good humour, desire to learn - and our shared passion for iron working - would mark the tone of the event. Translations were provided where necessary, but generally pointing and showing would always carry a conversation when language could not. (No one faulted my attempts at 40 year ago high school French, merci!)

I was scheduled to demonstrate on Saturday morning, then running a series of hands on uses of the Aristotle furnace in the afternoon. This kept me out of the other demonstrations, although I could look over and observe my friend Lee Sauder as he built a bloomery furnace and oversaw preparing the materials (mainly charcoal).

The second day, I just decided to keep running cycles of the Aristotle with people, keeping a closer eye on Lee's smelt. I was able to lend a small hand there, especially during extraction, having worked with Lee many times before and being to anticipate some of his 'extra hands' needs.

I was within view of one of the two forge demonstration areas, and could certainly tell the sessions by JD Smith and Kevin Cashen were 'packed'. (I had the pleasure of eating several meals with these two, and found them both knowledgeable, friendly, and extremely willing to share.)

I have next to no images of the conference itself - but I did manage to capture this amazing (to me) shot:

The lads from Les Forges du Montreal pitched in to help Lee initially compact, then finally draw down to billet, a half section of the bloom he made in demonstration. Certainly some of the most impressive work as a striker team than I have seen!

I was extremely happy to place the winning bid for that piece of iron (about 3 kg) at the auction later that evening..

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

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