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Friday, November 29, 2013

'Tell me EVERYTHING...'

 A re-post from 'Hammered Out Bits

This in response to a recent comment from 'Anonymous', or any others who :

a) are too lazy to follow the included links to the large amounts of research information freely available on the DARC web site.

b) take the 'tell me everything' approach. 


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Teach me to make swords"

(I absolutely howled!)

A day in the life of a custom sword maker.

This is based on actual questions and comments I have received. The comments range from innocently misguided, through ignorant, to downright rude. They are presented here as if they all came from the same individual who becomes increasingly tiresome to deal with.

If you see yourself in the early part of the vid, don't feel bad, you are probably a well meaning if slightly confused individual.
If you see yourself toward the middle of the video, you may need to get a better understanding of how the world works. Put down the game controller and pick up a book once in a while. Maybe go outside.
If you see yourself toward the end of the video, you need counseling as your social skills are on par with those of a badger.

 I try not to do this kind of thing too often (re-post something seen on Facebook that is from YouTube). But this was just WAY too good not to pass along. I expect many of my fellow blacksmiths will also howl with laughter (and recognize the conversation!). Most of my readers here will also be highly amused...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Glass bead making furnace at Goderich Celtic Music Festival - this weekend! Aug 10 and 11

Hey all,

We'll be back at the Goderich Celtic Music Festival to demonstrate the various techniques Neil and his crew have learned about making glass beads in a (possible) Viking Age glass bead furnace.

Come on out and say 'hi!'

See all the collected blogs about our glass research here.

And the main section on bead research on our website proper is here.


Friday, May 31, 2013

Presentation - Upper Canada Village Medieval Festival

Upper Canada Village

Morrisburg Ontario


Open to Public – 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
MONDAY, JUNE 10, 2013
Education Day / Open to Public – 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

A colourful cast of medieval re-enactors, musicians, buskers, artisans, falconers, archers, merchants and jousting Knights in shining armour on horseback will converge on grounds adjacent to Upper Canada Village from Saturday through Monday, June 8, to 10 2013.  This festive encampment of tents, mini-stages, natural arenas and livestock quarters will also feature trebuchet and catapult demonstrations, children’s activities and a medieval marketplace. Check out our exciting line-up of       Medieval-style Weekend Entertainment.
Teachers … check out our action-packed Medieval Education Program on Monday, June 10.

Admission to the festival is through the main Upper Canada Village entrance gate. The grounds of the Medieval Festival are outside of the Village proper, and are accessed through a castle facade entrance located at the eastern border of the site. Visitors will also have full access to the Village’s uninterrupted, authentic 19th century program during the festival dates as part of their admission for the day
the Dark Ages Re-creation Company will be mounting a living history presentation inside this larger Medieval themed special event. As usual, we will be representing daily life during the Viking Age : 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Iron Smelt Demonstration at ICMS - overview

Strictly speaking, the demonstration described here was not mounted as part of DARC. As Neil and I were both referring to DARC and handing out those business cards, I thought the event should be described here as well as via the Wareham Forge / Hammered Out Bits blog.

On Saturday May 12, I mounted an iron smelting demonstration at the 48th International Congress for Medieval Studies, at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo MI.

The two day presentation was sponsored by AVISTA - The Association Villard de Honnecourt for the Interdisciplinary Study of Medieval Technology, Science and Art

The images bellow are scooped from the MiLive / Kalamazoo Gazette web site :

All images by Matt Gade

You can view an article by reporter Theresa Ghiloni, along with the sideshow of full sized images by following this link.

There was also some video shot of the extraction by fellow researcher Dr. Mike Cramer

My assistant and smelting partner Neil Peterson does figure dominate in the video and images above! Excellent work was done by conference members Keeney Swearer and Lisa Anne Conner for both the build and smelt days. 'David' helped on the build, 'George' was the second striker seen.

I would like to thank Steve Walton of AVISTA for organizing the demonstration.

For those curious:
Ore type : DD Analog, enriched with hammer scale
Ore total : 25 kg
Bloom weight : 5.4 kg

More images and detailed report in the works

Thursday, April 11, 2013

DARC at the ROM

This coming weekend is Archaeology time at the ROM again.  DARC will be there talking about experimental archaeology, and demonstrating a range of acivities including weaving, spinning, and pewter casting.  Come visit us!  Sat 13 Apr, or Sunday 14 April from 11-3.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

*How* Big? Scale & Objects

A recently recovered artifact is all the buzz in the Norse re-enactor's community.
It is a three dimensional depiction of a woman, cast in silver. The bottom of the figure has been broken off (thought to be plow damage from working the field it was discovered in).

The Harby 'Valkyre' - click to see the published image size (!)

(Metal) Detectorist Morten Skovsby found the ... figurine late last year at Hårby on Funen, (Central Denmark)

Go to the report

 Pulling a couple of the starting comments from the Norsefolk2 discussion group:
On 09/01/2013 04:24, Hilde wrote:
Hopefully, a high quality scan will be available some time in the future.

On Tue Jan 8, 2013 6:15 Charles wrote:
This is where the fun starts, now begins the search for archaeology to back up the outfit worn by the figure.
The need is there to make this more than an artistic representation.
The first rush was divided into to main topics:
1) Depiction of female with sword and shield - 'proof' of women in combat.
2) Deciphering details of the clothing.

There is a gap between the falling hair and the back of the neck. Much was being made of this : A pendant? Hung as a ritual object* ?
( Of course since the bottom of the dress line is broken, we can not tell if the piece was flat based to sit on a table, or might have once had details of the feet.)

But before we go too far - Look at another object from the Viking Age which has also been examined and argued about in minute detail:

'Odin fra Lejre '
by Tom Christensen

1,75 cm høj, 1,98 cm bred og 1,25 cm dyb,
(high / wide/ deep ?)
(images and quote from Christensen's report) 

The recent 'discussion' has centred around the sex of the figure. One camp sees a female, based on the length of the garment and seeing the dotted bands on the chest as four rows of beads. The other camp sees the figure as male, based on the band around the mouth seen as a moustache, and the iconography of the thrown of O∂in.  

Now - a reality check. Take a look at this image:
'Warrior' - click for detail
 Look at all that detail on the figure's costume (or lack thereof)!

This is actually one of those 30 mm cast tin alloy miniatures so many of us used for war game / Dungeons & Dragons playing 'back in the day' (and still may do, for I know).

But before you start to attempt to determine all those fine details - Let's try something first:

All objects reduced to LIFE scale in these images.

It has been my overwelming experience that no matter how much you work with artifacts, you never really understand then until you see them in life, actually before you. Reading the measurements does not really impact you. Almost everything is either way SMALLER, or way LARGER in actual truth, than what you imagine it is. 

This is absolutely critical. 
I have gotten into the habit now, for any object I have never actually seen before me, to take the source image, scan / open it into Photoshop (or the like). Then convert the image best as I can to the *actual* size given for the object. I will often put a piece of blank graph paper into my printer and print the life sized image on to that. This makes for very easy conversions of details into physical measurements. 

People have been going a bit overboard (in my opinion, not so humble), attempting to derive the finest detail from the published images of the objects. Yes, it can be a wonderful tool to take a very high resolution photograph, then look at that expanded version.

But what about the ancient artist who made the original object in the first place?
How small a thing was he really making?
What limits on detail were imposed by the medium he was working in?
Or by the tools he had available to work with?
Are you really looking at intended details of a reality? 
Or is all this combined through an artistic style? 

Let me tell you, as someone who has actually worked with lost wax casting techniques, there is very much a limit on just how much detail you can physically place on any object that is as small as these pieces are!

* "Ritual Object'
Archaeological short hand for : 'We don't know what the heck this is for'

Cross Post from Darrell's own 'Hammered Out Bits

Monday, January 7, 2013

Who Says we don't take a good Photograph?

Gimbold - L'Anse aux Meadows, 2000

Kjarval - Haffenreffer Museum, 2006

Bera - L'Anse aux Meadows, 1996

Thorgeir - Norstead, 2000

'Sven & Jorgi'

Kjarval - Trillium War, 2007 (?)

Kadja & Unn - Norstead, 2000

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Period Specific Beads

A little while ago there was a request to add new charts to the bead page to show the 'diagnostic' beads.  These are the beads that are found only in one time period (red star) or more than twice as often in this time period than any other (green star).  These sorts of beads are excellent additions to a  necklace or strand for tagging your presentation to a particular time period.  A little time finally opened up and these four summary pages were added to the other bead charts to aid in your shopping trips.