Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ringerike Style Walking Stick

This walking stick was my first real attempt at carving. I was inspired to start practicing carving after watching Jake Powning's excellent presentation on the Arctic Fire 2012 web broadcast. I am indebted to all those involved with that event. I really feel like I learned a lot from it, and if nothing else, it was highly inspirational. This piece is far from perfect, but I learned a lot while making it. This is my own design, but I looked at existing examples of Ringerike style art for inspiration, primarily the Källunge weathervane.

After sketching the design on paper, I had a feeling for how the interlacing worked. I then transferred the design on the stick itself. This is also where I made the motif fit the piece I'm working with, resulting in a slightly different design than my original sketch. It ended up being sightly more elongated, and a little more graceful surprisingly.

 After the design was transferred to the stick, I followed the lines with a skew chisel. I probably need to make a better one. This one was made from a broken needle file. I'd like a beefier one.

Once all the lines had been traced with the skew chisel, I used a straight chisel to round off the design and try to give the carving some depth. This is where I made most of my mistakes, but also where I learned the most about this technique.

Once the whole design had been carved and sanded, I coated the stick with pure pine tar and lightly passed it through the flames of a campfire. I was trying to both bring out the grain of the wood and make the piece look a little more aged, but I'm not sure if I like the result. Perhaps after several more coats of finish, I'll be more satisfied. I'm definitely not putting it in the fire again, haha.
This was just a learning piece anyway, and I think it served that purpose well. My next carvings will be better. And there will be more...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Iron Ore?

The Direction I'm Going

Up till now, I have been making small items - knives and firesteels mostly. I still have a few more projects at that scale to finish up. Once those are done, I'm redirecting my focus a bit. I want to make bloomery steel, and then make swords...

I've been really inspired by the smiths that took part in Arctic Fire 2012 (http://www.arcticfire2012.com/), a hammer-in that blew my mind. I knew of each smith that took part. I knew the work they had done before, and I knew their individual styles. What I didn't know was how awesome it was going to be to watch them work and listen to them talk about the craft of bladesmithing. I am truly grateful to each of these guys for sharing their expertise and serving as an inspiration for less experienced smiths like me.

This event made a huge impression on me. It made me think about why I started smithing in the first place. Homemade steel, pattern welding, and swords. I've always wanted to do these things, but I've been too intimidated to try. As soon as I finish a handful of smaller projects I've got going, these things are going to become my focus.

I am ready to earn the right to take that "amateur" out of my title.