Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Viking Age Blacksmithing DEMONSTRATION

Saturday June 11, Sunday June 12
Education Day - Monday June 13
Upper Canada Village - Morrisburg ON

Come join members of DARC at their encampment at this public festival:
I will be undertaking work with the Norse styled sand table forge:

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Cancellation - Bladesmithing May 28 - 29

I just got notified one of the students has to cancel a booking for the course :


MAY 28 - 29

This means a single place is now open - should anyone be able to arrange on this short notice.
For details on this program :

Please contact me ASAP if this interests you!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Who ARE those masked men??

So, Neil Peterson and I show up at the front registration area at last week's International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo...

Say What?

The central (dramatic) images are of the demonstration session sponsored by the Dark Ages ReCreation Company in 2015. That is me in the foreground, working the Aristotle Furnace, the second image showing Neil in the back working a Norse beadmaking furnace.

Now, the posters were produced by Discover Kalamazoo, which is the official promotional arm for the City of Kalamazoo. (thanks to them for giving us copies of the poster image)
Important to consider, this is not the ICMS itself.

The International Congress on Medieval Studies is a major event, now in its 51st year. It is primarily a literary based theme.
Neil and I have been sneaking in sideways with presentations from the material culture / experimental archaeology side. (Is this the DARC side?)

To put this into some kind of context, this year there were roughly 700 individual sessions at the Congress, only a handful of which relate directly to material culture. We were both surprised and flattered to see our 'more exciting' activities at ICMS used to represent the Congress. Along with undertaking both session presentations and formal (published!) papers over the last several years, we had mounted a large scale iron smelting demonstration in 2014. (This sponsored by AVISTA )

Plans are in formation for our 2017 year. Again DARC will be sponsoring a formal paper session. The intent is to give a demonstration of Early Medieval bronze casting, working again with AVISTA. In addition to this, we hope to provide a workshop that will allow conference attendees to create their own pewter 'pilgrim's badge' as a keepsake.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Spring IRON SMELT at Wareham

'Spring' Iron Smelt at the Wareham Forge

Sunday May 22

Rain or Shine (the smelting area has overhead cover).
Directions : see http://www.warehamforge.ca

Time : typical start at the furnace is roughly 9 AM, with bloom extraction expected roughly 4 - 6 PM.

Those wishing to get involved in the action (dirty jobs!) should wear work clothes, cotton / natural fiber, some kind of boot. Safety glasses will be provided here. Note that this is not specifically a teaching event (but everyone knows I will drone on reguardless).

Individuals are advised to bring lunch and snacks with them, as it is some distance to the closest food outlets here. (Flesherton, just north up highway 10, is recommended for those who want to 'eat out'.)
If anyone wants to break up their long distance travel, 'primitive' camping space can be provided in the yard. Please respond if this is your intent.

Parking is limited. Once the drive and front pull in are filled, I advise you park along Sideroad 41 - to the east side of the property. (Less traffic and a stop sign limits passing speeds) When you arrive, look for me at the smelting area to the rear of the property beside the pond.

Original build of the 'Production' Furance - it has since been shifted to a difference brick plinth.
This has been a very busy spring. The Icelandic series awaits a full above ground build, which time and materials does not allow for at this point. My intent is to return to the previously constructed 'production' furnace, which can be ready for use with minimal adjustment. As always, there are Charcoal Monkey positions available! There is a good supply of a number of rock based iron ores on hand (Limonite from Virginia). Some of this material has already been roasted, but breaking will be required. I also have a good supply of hammer scale for enrichment. Use of this material requires more attention to slag management, which is something we have largely not have to be overly careful of with the recent use of our analog mixes. (Return to a rock based ore will help me refresh my own skills in preparation for the Polish Symposium in September.) The hydraulic press is down for modifications, so any attempt at consoldation or cutting will have to be accomplished by hand.

I'd appreciate an email (info@warehamforge.ca) response from anyone intending to come, mainly so I have some idea just how many people to expect.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Elora Sculpture Project 2016

There have been a couple of earlier postings here about work on my submission for this year's Elora Sculpture Project:

Concept Frame Construction Exterior Frame
For a description of the original concept

The completed Sculpture: 
Completed In Motion - with lights
As has been mentioned, 'Barrel Turbine' is a large piece. It stands seven feet high and is about three feet in diameter. The total weight is roughly 150 pounds. The main structure is formed from wide strips of 1/8 inch thick mild steel.

The upper turbine is constructed of brushed finished stainless steel. It is highlighted on in the inner side of each blade with bright spray paint (orange with pink edge). This changes the way the light reflects of the alternately bright metal and coloured surfaces.
The main turbine is topped by a second smaller set of blades - fixed to the shaft as well. These are canted on an angle, with the lower surface painted a copper colour.

As completed, the internal elements were kept relatively simple:

There are a total of four hanging tube chimes. One pair has been left to move and strike from more gentle wind through the grid work sides. The other pair is struck via two rods attached to the central shaft, the rate determined by the spinning speed of the turbine.
In the end it proved necessary to partially limit the striking play of all four of these chimes. (A bit of a surprise, as I was initially concerned there would not be enough motion!) 
As it turned out, the wooden paddles of the chimes also make their own sound as the piece reacts to the wind.
In the top area, there is a second blade set, similar to the top set, so also fixed on a diagonal. These have been painted a bright yellow/green on their upper surface, which produces alternating flashes of colour and pright metal.
Below this is a set of flat turbine like blades. These are made from stainless steel as well, but in this case the metal is polished to a mirror surface on one side. The opposite sides are painted to alternate dark and lighter blue. This serves to creating a moving reflection off these surfaces.
At the bottom section, there is a large spiral, formed to expand into a cone shaped volume. Again this has the mirror bright surface showing. 

All this combines to produce continual sound and movement - with different visuals at differing viewing distances.
There are two sets of solar powered mini LEDs that are attached over the inner grid surfaces. One set are a constant white. The second set are multi-coloured, and set to flash on and off. This to provide an effect in darkness, when the internal movement will not be visible.

This is the piece as installed in Elora:

'Barrel Turbine' is mounted in location number one, to the south end of the bridge over the Grand. (This is the SW corner, across from the LCBO).

Asking Price = $4500

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Iron Smelting in Europe

I have been invited to participate a different event this year - and very pleased to be able to attend.
I am most likely to be the only Canadian, and with long time friend and smelting partner Lee Sauder, likely the only two North Americans.

The Stafan Woyda Museum of Ancient Mazovian Metallurgy in Pruszków

September 7 - 12, 2016


Expect more on that event over months to come!

Thanks to Neil for spotting my bad initial reporting here!

Monday, May 02, 2016

More on 'Barrel Turbine' - Elora Sculpture Project

So here is the progress so far:

Original Concept    /   'Barrel' Construction
By Sunday (yesterday) I had the exterior / major form completed:

Barrel with Turbine
This is a side view, the complete height is about 6 1/2 feet tall.
There are two more of the 10 inch wide solid 'staves' that complete the barrel form. These are held in place with pin remove hinges, so to allow for access into the interior. (If you look close on the left of the image, you can see the gap where one has yet to be installed.)

When compared with the original concept, you can see I have made a few design changes - primarily to the turbine:
- The individual blades have the centres cut out. This to (hopefully) improve the performance.
- The individual shapes, although identical, alternate 'one up - one down'. This to provide a (slightly?) more interesting visual.
Mechanically, I solved the overlapping problems of weight / strength / fabrication by using light weight 20 gauge stainless steel rivetted to short lengths of mid steel flat stock. Those in turn are welded to a central core of steel pipe, which fit down the central shaft.

The shaft is made of 5/8 diameter threaded rod. The combined weight sits on a roller bearing on the bottom plate. A second bearing is installed at the top plate to reduce friction there.

If there is a 'problem' with this design, it is that each individual part of the mechanism that is attached to the central shaft has to be threaded down over some long part of that shaft. Screwing down the top turbine (about 2 1/2 feet total) took me * 45 mintues * of threading by hand !!

Next - converting all my concepts about moving / sounding 'mechanism' and attempting to construct and install each.

Deadline for Competion - FRIDAY

(stay tuned)


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

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