Sunday, February 24, 2008

Getting Free (??) Money 1

It was suggested to me to take a look at a possible grant for the upcoming Denmark iron smelt symposium trip. First suggestion was to take a look at Ontario Crafts Council:

The main wrinkle here is the associated cost. To be able to apply for any of the possible grants, as an established artist, you have to be a member at what is called the 'Craft Professional' level, which costs $130 a year.

Looking over the list of possible awards, about half are restricted to students or just those just starting a professional level workshop. (Note that there are a fair number of start up grants for those in that situation.) About a quarter of the grants are related to specific media types. Of what remains, only the following could apply to forged work, much less iron smelting:

Ontario Crafts Council Scholarship
Number of awards given: 1
Value of award: $1000
Application requirements: Standard application plus a study plan of 100 words or less.
Description: The Ontario Crafts Council Scholarship is awarded to a craftsperson for further study in their respective discipline.

Helen Frances Gregor Scholarship
Number of awards given: 1
Value of award: $500
Application requirements: Standard application plus a study/ development plan of 100 words or less.
Description: Established by family, friends and colleagues, this scholarship for $500 celebrates the life of Helen Frances Gregor, an internationally renowned textile artist and teacher. It is awarded annually to provide funds for a fibre artist to pursue further study or further development of their body of work.

Tommia Vaughan-Jones Award for Excellence in Metal Arts
Number of awards given: 1
Value of award: $1000
Application requirements: Standard application
Description: Tommia Vaughan-Jones established a trust, administered by the Crafts Council Volunteer Committee, for an annual award in metal arts.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Viking Iron in DENMARK

If you where wondering why the additions have been few of late - a major event is in the planning stages. I have been invited to a symposium on early Scandinavian iron smelting : 'Iron smelting seminar in Thy'. This is too great an chance for me to pass up on, so I will be flying to Denmark in late April to early May. The symposium itself runs over 6 days, and I will be adding an extra 10 days to attempt to see at least some of the major museums and living history sites as well:




Travel to ROSKILDE


Travel to RIBE


Spare ?


Travel to HELTBORG

Thisted / Heltborg Museum

Iron Smelting Symposium

Iron Smelting Symposium

Iron Smelting Symposium

Iron Smelting Symposium

Iron Smelting Symposium

Iron Smelting Symposium



Saturday, February 09, 2008

NEW and Revised!

... As if you could tell!

I have spent a very great deal of January completely re-vamping the entire Wareham Forge web site. (Includes the Norse Encampment and the Experimental Iron Smelting sections.)


For now there are place holders - automatic redirects to the new locations of the information. The majority of the work undertaken was in creating an entirely new file structure for all the component parts of the web site. Over 150 sheets of information, over 750 images - a total of over 1600 individual pieces!

The origins of the Wareham Forge web site go back to the early 1990's. At that time, the standard way to organize a web site was to simply stick all the component files into a single folder. The ancient among you may also remember that in those days each file could have no more than eight characters, a dot and three letter file type (at least if you wanted anything part of the Evil Empire to read it).

The new structure * should * be transparent to most visitors to the site. (And Yes, send me those bug reports, thanks.) Now that I am using Dreamweaver to create the code content, it was much easier to do thing like find damaged links and orphaned files.
Along with the grunt work of rationalizing (?) moving, and checking. I have also added about 50 new images, mainly of work from 2006 and 2007.

The site had gotten so large that even with two site indexes (a flow chart and alphabetical) * I * was having huge problems finding things!

I did flirt with the concept of drastically pruning the site, and weeding out examples of long past work or pieces with poor images. To tell the truth, I consider the web site an important extension of my personality, and would rather potential customers have a better idea of just who they are dealing with - than use slick advertising designs. (This may be the old hippie in me showing through.)

One significant feature to the the revised site content. I have included a rather large video segment. This is a 17 minute long piece that is part of the photo-essay on the 'Riverdale House Railing' project of 2007. As I learn more about creating and editing video content, I hope to add an number of other (shorter!) clips to the site.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Raining Against E-bay

I just saw this notice about new fees on E-bay starting Feb 20. If you do not follow through several links from the message buried in your 'My Messages' section, you will totally miss this.

The initial message is titled: 'Important seller pricing changes' dated January 29
Inside this message, the first section says:

Reduced Listing Fees
You asked, we listened. We're reducing Insertion Fees and adjusting Final Value Fees to lower your up-front cost to sell on eBay. You wanted free Gallery, now you've got it--plus more feature discounts. In addition, Canadian dollar fees and pricing tiers will be adjusted to match US dollar fees and pricing tiers to reflect recent changes in currency exchange rates.

* Lower Insertion Fees

Now you have to next click on that link - Note it says LOWER Fees?
Then you have to look past the slight reduction in listing fees (drop of .05 for items bellow $25 start). Go down 3/4 the way down the long list of tables. You find this bombshell:

Final Value Fees for Auction-style and Fixed Price listings

Closing PriceFinal Value Fee(effective 02/20/2008)
$0.01-$25.00 5.25% of the closing value 8.75% of the closing value
$25.01 - $1,000 5.25% of the initial $25.00,
plus 3.25% of the remaining
8.75% of the initial $25.00,
plus 3.50% of the remaining


Be warned - I certainly will be cutting back on my use of E-bay.
I sent the company the following letter (as if it will do any good)

To E-bay:

I must register a protest about the HUGE increase in discount rates you have just announced. The increase from the current 5.25 to the intended 8.75 % amounts to a * 50% * increase in costs.
It is also 'dishonest' that you have buried this massive increase inside a message that says " Reduced Listing Fees
.. We're reducing Insertion Fees and adjusting Final Value Fees to lower your up-front cost to sell on eBay.
* Lower insertion fees "

You are cutting the cost of a lower starting price by a mere .05 - and then taking the much higher value extra 2.5 % on the final sales total. How on earth does that 'save' me anything?

To this point, the direct costs of the use of E-bay / Paypal was at least approximate to direct sales via a credit card merchant account. With this massive increase in your charges on commission, the cost of using your service has become too expensive.

What possible rational can be offered against a 50% increase? Given the MASSIVE profit taking by E-bay under the old price structure, nothing but pure greed can be suggested.

This increase will certainly make me STOP USING E-BAY as a marketing tool for my products

Darrell Markewitz
the Wareham Forge


One rain drop amounts to very little,
A handful of rain drops may make you damp enough to notice?
A million rain drops make a ranging flood...

Monday, February 04, 2008

Caught in the web (again)

"..and I'm hovering like a fly, waiting for the windshield on the freeway."

Genesis - The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway

Anyone who knows me well has seen me buried under a MASSIVE re-design of the entire Wareham Forge web site over the last month. All 150 megabites of it.

I was relatively early into the internet, starting back in the days when this all was just bulletin boards. The first fledgling Wareham Forge web site was created roughly 1995. At the time it was pretty small, so all the individual sheets of information, the images and their thumbnails, were all shoved into one single folder. Flash forward over a dozen years, and there are over 850 images alone used to create the massive site.

I have chosen (with intent, if not wisdom) not to remove the earlier content, but to just add on top of it. This is because I want the web site not just to be an advertising vehicle. It also is specifically intended to be a reflection of personality. As an artisan, I want people to consider that personality when they select my work. This may (or may not!) be a wise business decision. Others with less artistic vision have chosen a kind of slick (but shallow) representation of themselves and their work, which may better attract the world of high end designers. Frankly, these are not what I see as my ideal client anyway.

Back to the site, it has grown so much that I myself can often not find things contained inside it. The re-design that is under way is primarily concerned with creating a more logical underlaying file system. If done correctly, there should be no real change visible as users move through the contents. There has been some changes with creation of 'theme' background wallpapers, which should help you know just what section you are delving into.

Along with obvious changes like addition of the 2008 schedule and course dates, I am adding about 50 new objects from 2006 and 2007 to the various gallery sections. The single most active part of the site is the Experimental Iron Smelting section. The materials published here provide an ongoing record of my work in that area.

I'm at the last two stages of the overhaul: Integrating any 'orphan' images and running the whole site for spelling errors (!!) With luck the entire new package will be loaded by the end of this week (After Friday Feb 8).

Any regular visitors are asked to check any bookmarks they may have. I have moved the exact locations of most sheets and all the images. I have (tried to) inserted re-direct warnings for those sheets which have moved to help you with this.


Friday, February 01, 2008

Bog Ore Crush Test

One of the projects being undertaken by the DARC iron smelt team right now is the development of a 'bog ore analog'. One of the questions is how to produce a mixture which mechanically resembles the natural bog iron ore that I have seen from the L'Anse aux Meadows area of Northern Newfoundland. This is part of the larger project underway, the Icelandic grass sod smelter.

Our comparison is the material seen here:

This is bog iron ore that was gathered by Dr Birgitta Wallace right off the archaeological site at L'Anse aux Meadows during excavations there in the early 1970's. Outside of possible variations due to environmental changes since 1000 AD, this can be considered to be exactly the same material that would have been use to smelt iron by Leif's crew. This material has been tested and found to be quite pure, in the range of 89 % Fe2O3 after roasting (62% iron content).
The grid is a standard 1/4 inch graph paper, 6.5 mm squares. The majority of the pieces range from 5 to about 20 mm. This size is ideal for addition to the smelter without any further crushing. The sample seen has been air dried, but has not undergone any roasting (so chemically it would be FeOOH).

The test was made by taking pieces of the bog iron ore and placing each inside a plastic bag. An attempt was made to use pieces as close to 10 mm across as possible from the sample. A standard piece of 3/8 inch square bar was used as the plunger (9.5 mm). The metal bar was pushed against the top of the sample by hand, and the scale observed. As each piece reached its 'crushing' pressure, the measurement on the scale was recorded. This point was easily distinguished, as there would be a loud sound and the scale numbers would suddenly drop.

Before and after crushing, showing the plunger

Test Results - In measured kilograms

Discard the two top and bottom measurements, as they are significantly outside the range of the others. The bottom two numbers remaining are also not used. These pieces wer both narrow, and also had a distinctive 'tube' structure, and thus a hollow core which made them much easier to collapse.

Average : 2.2 kg
Converted to kilograms per square centimeter : 2.4

The numbers on the upper range may prove more accurate. These were larger pieces, more in the range of 15 mm wide. The numbers at the bottom end of the range are from pieces closer to .5 mm wide (thus really represent twice the force over area as recorded.

There is a huge range of both chemical and structural variations that can be observed in the material called locally 'bog iron ore'. Wide ranges in specific environmental and geological conditions account for the many differences in the size, density, and gathering methods seen.

The focus of the DARC team remains on the type of material available in Vinland, the bog iron ore that would have been used for the first iron smelting in North America by the Norse.

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

COPYRIGHT NOTICE - All posted text and images @ Darrell Markewitz.
No duplication, in whole or in part, is permitted without the author's expressed written permission.
For a detailed copyright statement : go HERE