Sunday, February 11, 2024

'How Dense Are You?' now available on Amazon!


How Dense Are You?: Recording bloom density from experimental iron smelting. Paperback – Feb. 6 2024 

Key to any understanding of the ancient processes of bloomery iron smelting is assessing the actual iron that was made!

How Dense Are You’ charts the density of 30 individual blooms, created by Darrell Markewitz and his team, spanning over 20 years of experimental iron smelting. This work specifically focused on historic Northern European methods during the ‘Dark Ages’.

• The ‘short shaft’ furnace, which was used for the production of blooms, is detailed.
• A variety ores were processed, but a dependable analog from easily available red iron oxide powder is described.
• A measurements from a number of artifact blooms are given for comparison.
• Individual blooms are charted against a total of 8 possible effective variables.
• This 42 page report is richly illustrated with photographs
• Includes web site links and formal citations

In comparison to many academic studies, this volume centres on the
practical experience of actually making bloomery iron. It answers the question : Can the skill of modern makers match that of the ancients?

Darrell Markewitz is a professional Artisan Blacksmith, who has been investigating bloomery iron smelting since 2001.
Neil Peterson is a Project Manager in high tech, who has assisted in this experimental archaeology research.

Note : This work written without use of AI
prices in $ CDN / set originally at US $1.99 / US $9.99
This volume (45 pages) was created largely as a test for the '7 Day Amazon Publishing Challenge' (*). It is a revised edition of a commentary written in 2022, considerably improved with the addition of more internet links and academic type citations. 
Although now formatted for both e-pub / Kindle and as an 8 1/2 x 11 printed book, my main purpose was learning the mechanics of Kindle Direct Publishing - not retail sales potential. So to that end, I would suggest anyone wishing to support the ongoing experimental work in bloomery iron smelting here actually purchase the e-pub version. You will need to ether have a version of Kindle Reader application (or own a Kindle device), or you can open and read via your main computer internet browser. The advantage of the e-pub (along with the reduced cost) is that all the various internet hot links contained are available on a click.
I had already started on a full book length : '20 Years Before the Blast - Bloomery Iron Smelting' (tentative title), which would cover observations from all the work in that area since 2001. This is being done as a legacy project, again not with expectations of sales income. On completing the 'Challenge' project, in conversation with David Robertson, I occurred to me that I could certainly convert my lecture 'Beginning Blacksmithing or Things I wish someone had told me' into a book version that might be more suited to a popular market.
Worth mentioning that David had undertaken his own first Kindle / Amazon project :  
* ) It is perhaps fair that I make some comments about the '7 Day Challenge' here :
At core this is kind of pyramid scheme - so do enter with your eyes open. The process is presented free of charge, and you certainly do get what you paid for! 
The presenters are at core attempting to promote their own business - AIA Publishing. They will consistently push you to sign up for their numerous (and expensive!) workshop programs on marketing, publishing and writing.  They will consistently give glowing examples of individuals who have used these services (in the range of thousands of dollars cost) who then managed to generate incomes from multiple hundreds, even multiple thousands of dollars in sales - every month.
The key here is the promotion of using current Artificial Intelligence mechanisms to 'create' the entire contents. From preparing outlines, 'writing' the contents, to generating the cover graphics. At best I personally found all minimum ethically bankrupt. The hook appears to convince a gullible public to spend $3.99 US on a Kindle version with questionable value and little originality. To be fair they don't actively dissuade participants from original content creation, but more that they constantly present how easy it is to have machines do all the actual work for you instead. The marketing strategy involves generating massive amounts of these publications, so relying on the many trickles from individual offerings eventually combining into " MASSIVE INCOME!! "
One thing to be particularly aware of : All three of us (Kelly as well) who undertook the last Challenge cycle found the mechanics of layout and submission for approval of the Amazon print on demand version of our manuscripts particularly fussy and annoying. All had to work though tedious multiple submissions and revisions to get to a final print ready version. I actually spent more time on revisions than I did actually preparing the text and images contained.
To be fair, they will provide you with references to a number of available on line access points, especially outlining how the Amazon / Kindle Direct Publishing system is set up.  
My overall impression here is that this whole exercise represents yet another example of the 'internet bubble'. Those few who initially realized the potential of a new computer / internet sales venue have made out like bandits. Then the profits have shifted not from working that (new!!) system, but in selling 'experience' with the system to others, who are seduced by the 'get rich quick and easy!!' potential opportunity. But very quickly, that potential market is swamped and diluted, beyond any reasonable capacity. Remember E-bay, Etsy ??
So taken together, the '7 Day Amazon Publishing Challenge' will provide some useful information. I'd highly recommend ignoring all the hype, and most certainly those sales pitches.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Upcoming Lectures - SCA Practicum

Practicum 2024: Back to Basics

When : Saturday, Feb 24, 2024
Where : Rideau Park United Church, 2203 Alta Vista Dr, Ottawa, K1H 7L9 (map)

Practicum 2024 – Back to Basics (

Site opens: 9:30am  Site closes 8:30pm

(At point of this post, class schedules have not been published) 


DARC round table on the Viking Age

60 minute round table style discussion
best suits teens through adults

DARC Round Table on the Viking Age

How do you approach re-creating daily life in the Viking Age? Drawing on decades of practical experience presenting this period before (literally) tens of thousands of the general public, as well as individual lifetimes as working artisans, four prominent members of the Dark Ages Re-creation Company will discuss aspects and issues related to not only this historic period, but undertaking living history in general. Topics will range from the general (Viking vs Norse?), the practical (balancing historic vs modern tools and materials), to the topical (perceptions and representations of gender). Opinions are likely to differ, and discussion with the audience is expected!

Norse Iron 

60 minute illustrated lecture / discussion
best suits teens through adults 

The 'Dark Ages' are known partially through a number of truly impressive objects made from forged iron, Sutton Hoo (Anglo-Saxon) and Oseburg (Norse) being the best known examples. During the Viking Age, iron was used for domestic objects, tools and weapons. Illustrated with artifact images and physical replicas, this session will look at how iron itself was made, the work of the blacksmith, and objects of special interest to re-enactors.

Note there is a slight change here, due to my own mix up with lectures at the Blue Dragon event in January! 

Starting in Blacksmithing for Re-enactors (some practical advice) 

60 minute illustrated lecture / discussion
best suits teens through adults 

As popular culture exploits an interest in blacksmithing, more and more people are drawn to a first attempt to pick up a hammer. Forget what you see on 'Forged in Fire'! Drawing from a lifetime at the forge and decades of teaching experience, this combination illustrated lecture and Q & A, will look at contemporary blacksmithing equipment and processes, with an eye to the differences between modern, traditional and historic methods. A particular focus will be important practical advice for the beginning smith.

Instructor Bio 

Darrell Markewitz first picked up the hammer in the late 1970's, and has worked professionally as an artisan blacksmith since the late 1980's. He found the Wareham Forge in 1992, specializing in 'Historic Reproductions in Metals', with work for both major museums and individual re-enactors, as well as private commissions for his Art Nouveau based designs. Most significant museum work is his creation of the living history program for Parks Canada at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC, he has provided staff training, physical presentations and object replicas for museums throughout North American, in Great Britain and Europe. Since 2001, he has undertaken personal research via experimental archaeology into bloomery iron smelting, which has included numerous conference presentations and academic papers.
As Sylard of Eagleshaven, he is 'Ancient of Days', holds a Laurel for decorative metalwork, and is the original 'bastard Viking' of song and story. He founded the Dark Ages Re-creation Company in 2000, and remains it's driving force.


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