As you have seen, the first part of the three nation Europe 16 trip was attending the Ypres 2016 event.
|Overall view of one of two main forging areas (seen day 1). (Darrell's image)|
|One of the coke fueled forges. (Darrell's image)|
Each team station was equipped with three coke fired forges. These had extremely shallow rectangular fire pots, set up with drilled holes in the bottom for the air blast. This appears to be the standard here in Europe, rather than the deeper fire boxes with rotating chip breakers we are used to in North America. I was told this was the type best suited to metallurgical coke - rather than the soft coal typical back home.
But honestly? That coke used was horrible! You can see the massive quantity of clinker I have just pulled out to the bottom right of the image. That mass was generated after about 20 minutes working time - and about filled the shallow fire pot. Coupled with the roughly 3 inch / 7 cm working depth of the fire pot, it proved difficult to effectively control and efficiently heat the larger stock sizes most of the designs called for.
I was (randomly) assigned to the team working under Scottish artist-blacksmith Shonna Johnson. The two day working period to produce her panel design was Sept 3 & 4.
|(L-R) Davy, Shonna, Tilles, Michelle, *, Darrell (Pete missing)|
Michelle had excellent English, and worked together with Tilles, who had basically none.
Davy's English was also extremely good, and he worked with the other younger smith * (who's name I never did catch!). These two were both attending college level programs for artistic blacksmithing.
This left me, so I mainly worked with either Shonna or Pete, depending on what needed to be undertaken.
|Working on the smaller air hammer|
There were four air hammers in the working area. One of these (the largest) was pretty much constantly out of commission. At one point or another I would end up working with all three of the others. The hammer seen above was the smallest, but it was set up with a very aggressive top die for drawing out. I also found it a lot twitchy to use - it seemed to go from no motion to hitting quite hard very easily. (Mind you, by the time I was on my third piece, I was starting to get the hang of it.)
(You may notice that I kept my much loved personal forging hammer tucked into the back of my apron!)
|Elements close to completion - getting ready for assembly on day 2.|