Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Activities for Younger Norse?

1a. Activities for 5 years olds
    Posted by:  rosie5823 to the Norsefolk discussion group
    Date: Tue Feb 25, 2014 2:19 pm ((PST))

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what activities would be suitable (and safe) for 5 years old boys to do whilst in costume?
DARC has had a fair amount of experience with public demonstrations. We 
centre on daily life and the craftsman, and also are using both full 
role playing (floating interpretive level presentation of characters and viewpoints), and fairly high authenticity standards. 

Kadja & Unn - Norstead 2000
One of the single most engrossing activities for younger visitors has related to water. We are well equipped with cooperage. A major task in any 'working' day is hauling water, for which we have a couple of yokes and lots of buckets and pails.

One of our team interprets the character of a 'household slave', and she undertakes a number of tasks related to this every presentation day. Gathering a bunch of kids to 'help' bring water from source back into camp always works well. We have a number of both pails and buckets with wooden lids that keeps water in the container, rather than on the carrier.

Volunteer Helper - L'Anse aux Meadows 2010

Related to that is washing up. We have a large tub especially for this. Three primary tasks : washing the dishes after meals, washing selected clothing, washing fleece as part of the textile preparation series.
Kadja - L'Anse aux Meadows 2012
Kids love to play in water - and the whole series of getting the water, doing the task, dumping the waste water - all re-enforces how much raw labour is required for the simplest task.

There are images related to all this on the DARC web site. Check the various museum presentation descriptions, especially at L'Anse aux Meadows for Parks Canada.

First image - Darrell Markewitz, Remainder by Paul Halsz

Monday, February 24, 2014

Viking Age Forging Hammers?

On 22/02/14 2:09 PM, Zachary wrote:

I had a question on Viking era blacksmith hammers that I was hoping you could answer for me. In your research and experience, what would you say the average weight of a forging hammer was? I have read that the weights the Vikings used were different from 19th century North American smiths, but I have not yet been able to find what that weight was.

The primary reference for this is always :
the Mastermyr Find
Arwidsson & Berg

This volume was rare at one point. but was re-issued through the action of Norm Larson Books in the early 1990's. Now available through various booksellers (but try contacting for Norm)

Norm Larson Books
5426 E. Hwy. 246, Lompoc, CA 93436
805-735-2095 Evenings

I have also looked at a number of individual tool (burial) groups. These also show the same general types and sizes best illustrated by Mastermyr.

The Mastermyr Tool find is a wooden box, full of a working set of blacksmithing and woodworking tools, as well as some additional metal objects. There is some discussion as to just what the find represents, as the whole box is packed with iron objects and massively heavy (!!).

Included is a full set of metalworking hammers, ranging from specialized jewellery / raising types through to several (long handled) sledges.
Generally, these hammers are *lighter* than the range used by many contemporary blacksmiths.
This is also echoed by the general weights found in blacksmithing hammers from the other finds from the Viking Age.

Cut together direct scans from Arwidsson & Berg

The basic size seems to run about 800 gms, with a second class in about 1000 gms. (That translates to roughly 1 1/2 and 2 lbs for Americans.)

An easy way to duplicate the Norse common hammer profile is to take one of those cheap 'Chinese' square face cross peens. then re-forge the peen down to the straight line profile of the Norse type. Re-harden in oil. (I've done this several times, and had good results visually and performance wise.)

By (not unexpected) co-incidence, my main forging hammer has always been 800 gms - with my second 'heavier' hammer chosen at 1000 gms. I personally find a 1.5 kg hammer a bit too heavy to easily control. Admittedly, I am lighter in physical build (at 5 foot 11 inches / 1.75 m and 155 lbs / 70 kg).
Might be something there?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

'Groomsmen' Knives

One of the things I am getting requests for increasingly are custom blades as gifts on the male side of the modern wedding ritual *.

The commission was for a pair of roughly 4 inch blades, made of layered steel, with 'pale' wooden handles. The customer had sent me an image of a commercial blade shape he liked.

The blades are made of roughly 400 layer 'flat stack' layered up from mild, high carbon and L6 alloy steels. The handle material is maple.

The finished knives.
Showing the distress pattern on the flat billet
The blades as rough forged, after annealing.
Polished, Hardened, Polished again - after Tempering (colours still showing).
After a fast etch, just to get a glimpse of the surface patterning.
The construction of the billet resulted in a flat stack at about 200 layers (three welding phases). This was drawn to a long bar, about 5 - 7 mm thick. The surface was distressed by using a pointed stone on my air die grinder. This produced a series of shallow rough tear drop cuts into the layered surface (on one side only). Each cut was about 2 cm long by 1 cm wide, about 3 mm deep.

At this point the bar was flattened again, cut and welded again with a high carbon steel core.
This has become my method when working with layered steel. This provides the hard cutting edge for a useful tool from the carbon core, but protected with the layered steel outer slabs. the layered steel is primarily a decorative effect in a blade in this size.
This final billet was drawn to the size needed to start forging the two matching blades.

Forge the actual blades. (total of 2 hours within the overall process).
One rough shaping polish, second surface polish.
Harden (Oil quench in this case), Heat soak (!!)
Fast cleaning polish, tempering.

I like to do my heat treating 'by eye' - to create a 'zone temper' result. You can see the resulting tempering colours, a blue along the back to a straw on the cutting edge.

Final surface polish
Etch (once in nitric for depth, again in ferric for colour)
Prepare, apply wood blocks, shape with files, sand smooth.

Total elapsed time for the two matching knives - 20 hours.

I would not have chosen this hilting material or shape. Left to my own artistic choice, I would have used a natural antler tube for these knives. This was entirely the customer's order however. 

* What I have been finding is that there is a cultural shift happening - directly because of the impact of the overwealming growth of the commercial wedding industry, with its stress on the 'perfect fairytale' - and the massive costs involved. Watching their brides  spending increadible amounts on, well, virtually everything, there is a increasing backlash of 'well, *I'm* getting something special too'.

One caution to those reading and dreaming :
See the total time?
What is 20 hours of your work time worth?
Guess how much this kind of specialist work should command?

'Nuff Said?

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