Friday, September 30, 2011

OUT OF THE STORM - Fundraiser for Goderich

Dear Friends,
Goderich  looks different after the devastating tornado back in August.  Here is a fundraising event you can participate in, with proceeds going to Goderich and Area Disaster Relief Fund, that promises to also be a good time.  If you can't make it you might consider donating anyway.  Any monies raised will be matched 2 to 1 by the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program.  Besides the obvious practical purpose here, it is also a celebration of the resilience of the community. 

Out of the Storm

Saturday, October 8, 2011

1pm – 1am, 12 hours of amazing entertainment!

$45.00 (hst inc.)per person, 12 & under free

Music, Local Food, Children’s Area, Artisans and Beer Tent!

Happening on the Square in Goderich

Serena Ryder
Maestro Fresh Wes
Moondog Uproar
Breaching Vista

See also......
This came in from fellow An Droichead member Brigitte Wolf. I have already committed to an iron smelt event that weekend. Hope some of my readers might attend this fundraiser for Goderich!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Truth for those who dream...

... of the 'free' life of the Artisan Maker:

I think personally I'm at one of those loops 3/4 the way to the top - that is likely to suddenly reverse itself.

Stolen off FaceBook (William Clements) where it is making the rounds.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dr Wallace at Western!

Thursday, October 13th - 3:30 pm B&GS 0165

The UWO Northern Research Group presents:

Presenters: Dr. Birgitta Wallace: Viking archaeology at Vinland: a Cooperative Approach to Research

Abstract:    In the popular mind archaeology is associated with structures and the finding of artifacts, but in reality, that is only part of the story. The environment and context of the site are equally important. Modern archaeology is dependent on interdisciplinary studies in a blend of natural sciences and humanities. The role of the archaeologist has become that of coordinator, drawing on whatever branch of knowledge pertains to the project on which he or she is working. The Viking site at L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site in northern Newfoundland is an example of how natural sciences, combined with anthropological, folkloristic, historical, literary and linguistic studies, have given new insight into the world of the Vinland sagas and the contacts of the Norse with the New World.
This event is being held at the University of Western Ontario, London.
Venue (appears?) the Biological and Geological Sciences Building

View Larger Map
Birgitta is an old friend and sometimes adviser to those of us in DARC  (and my special 'fairy godmother'.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Stonekettle on Intelligent Aliens and the State Fair

If you read this, and ever get amused or provoked by any of my own commentaries, you just *have* to check out Jim Wright's Stonekettle Station blog.
I find Jim's sense of humour echoes my own. He is an artisan (although Evil, a wood turner), ex military, reader of Heinlein and owner of cats - and opinionated observer of American politics and life.
AK, United States
" I'm a retired US Navy Chief Warrant Officer. Nowadays I live in Alaska where I spend most of my time working in my woodshop or fishing. I occasionally consult for the Military. I have delusions of becoming a full time writer - or conquering the universe, whichever is easier..."

Anyway, Vandy sent me a link to one of Jim's recent pieces : 'Things That Chap My Ass About Going To The Fair'.
He is spinning off a quote :

Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.” 

                                                   – Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

(or almost anything else of Jim's, especially if you want to assure yourself there are too people living in Alaska who thing Sara Palin is a walrus...)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Charcoal in Furnaces?

A recent topic that has come up on the Early Iron discussion has been about how various species of wood used for charcoal might modify the smelting process in direct bloomery furnaces.

On 20/09/11 4:00 AM, Jeff Evarts wrote:

... from a weekend-chemist perspective:

1) "pure" charcoal is just carbon, regardless of what it was charred from.
2) The difference between hardwood charcoal and other charcoal should
be in the density of the material (kilograms per liter) not in its
chemical content. Basically how densely packed the material itself is.
3) Densely packed carbon should have a proportionally higher energy
density, so it *should* be able to create more heat in the same amount
of space, resulting in a more efficient furnace.
4) N kilograms of charcoal will combine with M kilograms of oxygen to
make Carbon Mon/Di-Oxide gasses, so I would expect the burn rate
limiter would be the bellows throughput rather than a factor of the
type of wood used to make the charcoal charcoal.

Assumption alert: I am assuming that the air can come into equal
contact with the fuel regardless of its density, which may not be

Agricola, Theophilus and Biringuccio all specify hardwood charcoal as
well, for what that's worth.
That's a nice summary by Jeff of the 'density of carbon' aspect. (PS - Jeff's Blog is PaleoMetallurgy )

My own experience with charcoals should be considered limited. Here in North America, most commercially purchased charcoals are hardwood. Hickory and Oak are the primary woods. In Canada there are several suppliers who use Maple. I have also used one brand that was made from tropical woods, and appeared to be a mix of soft and hard woods (who knows what species).
I have fooled around a couple of times with making charcoal, but frankly, never did very well (!) Out in Newfoundland we did make a batch from local Alder (grows like bush willow, about like birch in terms of hardness.) We did not smelt with that stuff, although the blacksmith at L'Anse aux Meadows (Mark Pilgrim) does forge with it (using Norse equipments).

 I think Jeff has given the hard facts. A kilogram of charcoal is a kilo, regardless of the species. The raw volume of the material would vary however.
This is likely (as a thought experiment) important in the *standard* smelting process.
- Most of us use fairly standard sized furnaces. If you kept the same furnace layout and size, using a less dense (soft wood) charcoal would mean less available carbon inside the same space.
- A softer charcoal would burn faster, inch for inch, than a harder material. Inside the same space, this means the rate of fall of your ore would also be faster  = less time for the chemical process of reduction.
- I would think there would also be some kind of effect of air penetration through to the interior of the furnace as well. This may not prove significant in small furnaces with high air rates. It might tend to create lacy blooms if smaller hand powered bellows are being used.

The historic practice appears to use locally available fuels for smelting. The Norse at Vinland used the trees at hand for example - mainly Birch (no Ash or Oak there!) The design of the furnace would be modified for best results from what fuels were on hand.

When you look at the archaeology, there certainly appears to be some kind of 'ideal' shape and size for the furnace, which varies by location. The primary variable here is the ore, but there is likely a variation based on available fuel as well.

My gut feeling is that if you were using a softer wood, you would likely want to extend your stack height on the furnace. (??)

As if there was not already *enough* variables in the process!

Ole Neilson's team at Heltborg, Denmark, 2008. An Evenstad type furnace, designed to be fuelled with small pieces of green wood. At the end of the smelt, prying up the slag block. There was no visible iron produced.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Styll 2- Two, B

I had mentioned yesterday that I would show off my second piece for the upcoming 'Style Squared' show...
'Now in 3-D'

Forged work can be very difficult to effectively photograph. Compound this with rushing, and the fact the piece contains a mirror!

'Now in 3-D'
Forged structural mild steel & polished stainless steel
Fall 2011

The concept for this piece started with some material I had on hand. My neighbour, Steve, dropped over some pieces of stainless steel - cut in error at his workplace. There were about a dozen pieces of this mirror polished material, about 18 gauge, each about 14 x 16 inches.
For the Styll 2 show, I wanted to make one piece that had some depth to it. This partially to distinguish my work from that of one of the gallery owners, who do cut and paste style (laser/plasma cut) work.
Those following my recent work have seen the 'feather' profile, which has come to be one of my signature techniques. For Now in 3-D, the starting bar was 56 inches long. After forged to contour, then coiled into a spiral, the finished diameter was about 9 inches (!). The completed spiral was then pulled outwards, to sit with the inner tip about three inches above the outer edge. The forged work was given a coating of stain finish varathane, with a copper highlight along the inner surface.
The outer frame is made of 3/4 inch wide angle, painted flat black. The forged element is welded to one edge of this. The stainless steel mirror was carefully tack welded to the inner surface of the frame.
The net result is that the spiral element is seen inside the mirror, as well as standing above it. The result is that the spiral both rises from the surface, as well as appearing to descend within it.
The title 'Now in 3-D' is an off handed reference to the current trend to take almost any old feature film and remake it as a 3-D version (This for films that were hardly worth the effort the first time around.) Also the piece specifically is intended to stand out among the other contributions to the exhibit (including my own), which have tended to be rather 'flat' in layout.

In process - a report on DARC's day with the Viking Age glass bead making furnaces...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Styll 2 - Two, A

(or yet another piece on 'Where Ideas Come From')

Again this year, I will be taking part in the Styll 2 (Style Squared) gallery show.
Styll is a artisan gallery shop in Elora Ontario, in a wonderful stone mid 1800's building. It is located right on the river, at the bridge corner.
Styll 2 - 2010 version
Styll 2 is a concept exhibit and sale combining the work of many artists. The individual pieces are all wall hung, and must be 12 x 12 inches square. The selling price for each can be no more than $250. I had created two panels for last year's exhibit (one seen in the lower left above).

I often get asked - 'Where do ideas come from?'

Truth is - all over. A hint for new artists : Keep a blank book and add anything that sparks your interest. Could be magazine articles, news photos, post cards, written notes - even drawings of your own. The point is to record your ideas, and help you by the recording process to enter these into your memory. Eventually things will start to leak back out of your brain via your fingers.

I had commented here on the two pieces from last year : 'Scales' and 'Layered Stone'

Again, one of the new pieces for 2011 is based on an image cut from Discover (a general science magazine).

My point of inspiration is this photograph, an aerial shot of a mine's tailing pond. Flows of sludge filled water had created a layered pattern of circular swirls of grey.

'Toxic' - Fall 2011
To create 'Toxic' I had forged separate pieces of mild steel flat stock, working with a number of widths and thicknesses. The central pieces were set on edge, ending in spirals. The outer ones forged out to points and curved back on themselves at the center. Some of these shapes are flattened, some were allowed to retain the naturally occurring 3-D form. These were then nestled together and tack welded on the reverse side.
The forge work was laid on to a piece of mirror polished stainless steel. This had been heated with a torch in lines that echo the main contours of the forged elements. This process created a surface patina that ranges from a dull light grey through the colours of tempering - an 'oil slick' effect. Also the heating process distorted the stainless sheet, which now ripples off the wall surface. The net effect is as a distorted mirror. The completed piece has a depth of about 1 1/2 inches.

This piece will be at the top end of the pricing - $250. I do find it quite difficult to create even small objects which both have artistic flair and also are not overly complex / time intensive (read expensive).

There will be two more pieces to follow over the next week - I hope to profile these here as well...

Styll Gallery
5 Mill Street East
Elora, ON

We are open 7 days a week,
10am - 6pm
Friday nights, open until 8pm

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cooking and Cookware References?

1a. Cooking and cookware beyond the Viking answer lady
     Posted by: "KAREN"
     Date: Tue Aug 9, 2011 9:05 pm ((PDT))

Certainly some of you have done some good cooking over a fire. Any suggestions? Favorite recipes?

My wife, Vandy Simpson, worked up the original foodways programming for Parks Canada at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC (Vinland). Although not massive, her blog Daga's Cauldron will be of interest to you:

Does anyone know of pictures of period cookware?
Pottery, soapstone, grills, spits, ovens....?

I have put images of the original (Viking Age) artifact cookware next to my own replica ware on my own web site (the Wareham Forge) :

You will also find a lot of past cookware replicas, from a number of time periods on the Gallery - Historic Reproductions section :

Viking Age cookware replicas & reproductions

Although I have not specifically dealt with cookware as a separate topic, there is general information on VA objects on the 'Creating Norse Replicas' section of the larger Norse Encampment series:

Also there are some individual replica plan drawings, including some cookware, also in the Norse Encampment

I have discussed a large number of individual reproduction projects on this  blog (there is a search function on the top left corner!)

Sources where I can buy period cookware?

Obviously - the Wareham Forge!

Some general observations:
1) You will get what you pay for. Accurate replicas of good quality are not cheap.
2) Watch that darn tripod! It is a problematic object on many levels!
3) Although it is possible to set dress thinner modern steel pots, the original artifacts are quite thick and massive. This drastically changes their cooking properties.
4) Cast Iron is *right out*.
Norse replica cook pot - on simple ring chain and rope hanger,
 wood tripod.

Ok - I was short for a piece right now, so I dipped into my outgoing mail bag for this one...

Thursday, September 08, 2011

View of CanIRON 8 - one

Sean Soughton, the editor of OABA's Iron Trillium newsletter, had shot some video footage at the recent Canadian national blacksmith's conference (CanIRON 8). He has edited and posted some of these clips on the OABA YouTube channel :

Sandra Dunn demonstrates burning holes through a wooden block for the back of a forged chair.

Mark Puigmarti forges a large mushroom cap for his coatrack sculpture.

David Robertson discusses tips and techniques.

See also the last blog post - DARC's iron smelt

There are a number of other clips in this series, awaiting approvals from the individuals featured. I'll get these posted up here as part two when they become available. 

See what you missed?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

DARC smelt at CanIRON 8

(ok - just kind of...)

This is a clip shot at the recent CanIRON 8 demo by Neil, Richard and Dave.

Neil Peterson describing ancient iron and the ore used in the demonstration.

The furnace used is our 'Econo Norse' test / teaching set up, the ore our DD1 analog.
The result was a good soft iron at 5 kg.

The full smelt report is under preparation by Neil.

Although I had worked with the team in the two preparation smelts leading up to this demonstration, I did not have any (initial) part in the action at CanIRON itself. As it happened, I had roared past the team for a fast glance in later in the afternoon (about 20 plus kg into the ore sequence).
"Hows it going?"
"Well there is this one thing, if you could give an opinion"
"Aw crap!"
Add much frantic scurry around here
We ended up pulling the bloom a bit earlier than the team had planned, due to a critical failure / air blockage.

Hey Neil! Do I get to call this one as an 'assist'??

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