Thursday, February 21, 2019

Fire & Steel at the Elora Gallery = Opening

The opening night reception for Fire & Steel will take place at the Elora Centre for the Arts on Thursday February 21st from 7 – 9PM.   Enjoy light refreshments and live DJ music, learn about the art of metalworking and meet the talented artists behind the exhibition.

This is a virtual look at my contributions :

Darrell Markewitz first picked up the hammer while a student at Ontario College of Art in the late 1970’s - sparked initially by his interest in Viking Age history. These two elements, metalworking and historic methods, would shape his life’s work. He has worked professionally as an Artisan Blacksmith since the late 1980’s, starting the Wareham Forge in 1992. Over the decades he has created domestic items, historic reproductions, architectural work, and private commissions. Over all, his work has stressed design, primarily in his 'Rivendale' style. From the late 1990's, he has focused on museum work, contributing to a number of major international exhibits on the Viking Age. Significant is his creation of the 'Norse Encampment' living history program for Parks Canada at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC. An outgrowth of this has been his extensive experimental archaeology research into ancient bloomery iron smelting. He is one of the instigators of the 'Early Iron' movement in North America, certainly the foremost in Canada. This has lead to project work in the USA, Scotland and Europe. Now with over 40 years of forge work experience, he is one of the foremost workshop teachers in Ontario. Increasingly, his personal work trends to sculptural objects.
His (massive!) web site – – documents both his metal work and particularly the ongoing iron smelting research. Additionally, his blog 'Hammered Out Bits' now holds over 1000 individual articles.
Darrell lives and operates his workshop in lower Grey County.

Bloom Bowl 4

August 2014
forged bloomery iron
15 x 12 cm, top edge 7 cm high
$ 800

The starting iron bloom was produced in smelt #24, June 2007. The hemi-spherical mass was first flattened to a plate, with the ragged edges and textures of the parent bloom retained. (part of an ongoing series)

'Hector's Bane' 

Spring 2012
bloomery iron / carbon steel core

26 x 4.5 x .7 cm overall / blade 16 cm
$ 1000

'Hector's Bane' shows a combination of influences:
 The unique nature of bloomery iron is featured by deliberately allowing the natural flaws of a raw bloom to remain. This has been emphasized by etching the finished surface, the mottled greys indicating natural variations in carbon content within the material. 
To create an effective cutting edge, the two half pieces of one bloom have been forge welded on to a hard carbon steel core. 
The blade shape was inspired by ancient Greek *bronze* knives. 

‘Kelp’ Railing Sample
Fall 2009
forged structural angle, decorative paint
21 cm wide, 117 cm at top edge

This was a sample piece created as part of the large ‘Sea to Shore to Sky’ themed railing work for the Reade & Maxwell House project. The basic element used for the basement stairs would be a series of stylized kelp fronds. Each starts as a piece of steel angle, aggressively forged, with one end flattened and formed to a tight set of irregular reversal curves. No two uprights in the entire series would be identical.  The assembled railing piece was finished with coloured paint, dark green with lighter green highlights.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Fire & Steel - at the Elora Gallery

(corrected version)
FORGED WITH FIRE!  The Fire & Steel Contemporary Blacksmithing exhibition marks the first time artist blacksmiths have collaborated to organize an art gallery exhibition in Ontario. (1) This collection of imaginative handmade objects represents a cross-section of functional, architectural and sculptural ironwork from forges across Southwestern Ontario. This compelling body of work is an honest expression of what’s capturing the imagination of blacksmiths, who make a living hammering hot metal in order to re-shape it into useful, pleasing or thought-provoking objects of art.

The opening night reception for Fire & Steel will take place at the Elora Centre for the Arts on Thursday February 21st from 7 – 9PM.   Enjoy light refreshments and live DJ music, learn about the art of metalworking and meet the talented artists behind the exhibition. 

We hope you can join us!

Altered Version

' first time ' ?? 

- Ontario Artist Blacksmith, Group Exhibit : Durham Gallery
  some point about 1995

- 'Out of the Firey Furnace' : Woodstock Museum
  Fall 2005 (an exhibit I curated)

- 'Into the 4th Millennium' : Hamilton Museum of Steam & Technology
  Spring 2016

As well the two CanIRON national blacksmith conferences had Gallery exhibits that where open to the public (free) :
- CanIRON 4 : Hamilton / 2003
- CanIRON 8 : Fergus / 2011

Just sayin'

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Sometimes - A Great Notion...

I always stress to students the value of a 'drawing book'. (1)
And keeping your drawing books. (2)

For the upcoming Elora Gallery 'Fire & Steel' exhibit, each artist was asked to contribute up to three pieces (more on my submissions later).
I was stuck on a third object. My hope was to create a new work just for this exhibit. 

I had a concept for a piece - a continuation of my Windbile series.
This would be a large squid, forged arms outstretched in a twisted helix, with a hammered copper body. I knew I had some concept drawings, someplace.
A bit of a surprise when I finally went digging :
Current rendition - February 2019

Version 2 - (about) January 2016
Original concept - Summer 2007

 So this may be taken a couple of ways:
- 'Old Dogs vs New Tricks'
- A 'Good Idea' endures
- NEW ideas can be hard to find

In the end, recent events conspired to make this extremely unlikely. (3)
So the drawing books go back on the shelf, and although the work on forging the arms (at least) has been partially undertaken, it is hard to say when (if) the sculpture will ever be completed.

1) What your drawing book is FOR - is not what you got told by your high school art teacher. It is merely an 'aid to memory'. It most certainly is NOT about 'rendering'. I do suggest that you scratch down some lines. (The more often you push the pen, the better your skill at rendering will become. It is another hand skill, like using the hammer - you improve with practice.)
What goes INTO the book does not matter. The mere act of recording anchors your ideas. (This is why a phone image is almost useless.) Draw, write. Even stick in images cut from magazines (I most certainly do this as well). 
- I recommend the larger 8 1/2 x 11 size, mainly because there is more room to expand the drawings - and this size fits nicely on to most scanners to allow for web site / e-mail use.
- Right now I am using a $3 book I got at the local Dollar Store. The paper is thick, and has a nice tooth for pencil (although I mainly work with a roller ball pen). The individual sheets are actually perforated (so you could tear something out if you wanted - although I never do). It is spiral bound, so it sits flat for use or scanning. (Bonus there is that a drawing pen fits neat inside the spiral.)
- My past books have been those black, hardcover 'sketch books' you would get at an art supply store. As I constantly carry my book with me, I have found that typically the bindings tear off these, and a fitted cover helps a lot to reduce this. (Surprisingly, the cheaper spiral bound is not having this problem = win / win.)

2) I actually have my drawing books - all of them, going back to my first high school art class - in grade 10 (when I was 16!). That first book is NOT as I describe here. Each page has a completed concept drawing! (So not the roughs - the actual final versions). Over my own long decades of using drawing books, I find my drawings are getting sketcher and sketcher. That is primarily because the purpose is just to remind *me* of my original idea. The book is NOT for anyone else. I normally transfer these loose concepts through several versions in the process of developing a project :
Clear line drawing illustrations
Scaled production drawings
Technical detail drawings

3) Some reading may have caught that we had a major snow disaster here at Wareham during that warm snap in early February. A large section of the brand new deck roof collapsed. A good week lost clearing this away and dismantling the damaged section!

Friday, February 08, 2019

America's Lost Vikings - Coming SOON

‘America’s Lost Vikings’ will air weekly for six weeks:
Starting this Sunday the 10th of February, on The Science Channel, 10pm EST in the United States.

I am not entirely sure, but I think the segments shot here at the Wareham Forge are part of episode #3.

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