Monday, June 23, 2008

Here piggy piggy...

Wild Boar

Here he is a wild boar that I forged up three years ago, and only now hung up on the smithy wall.
I love Wild Swine, and I know they are pain in the butt to farmers, yes they are over running the vinyards of France and Germany but I like them still.
They were also sacred to my ancestors, so much so that they wore boar crested helmets into battle, see link=

I made this for the fun of it, a rare thing. Working in the forge is almost always for paying clients these days. I don't make the time nor have the time to just be an "artiste".
Too many other things need doin around here.

Thistle gate

Thistle Gate in Situ
A few posts back , there is a gate drawing in chalk on our shop floor=Here is the gate coming together. It has taken way too long to get this gate built, partly due to other projects, and also to the challenge of engineering as you go, being challenged by every job to learn new skills and be a clever monkey..
The deceptively simply loop at the bottom of the pattern was not as simple as it seemed.
Steel or iron will bend to your will, but that's the problem too. It will bend were you "tell" it to bend. If there was a mistake on your part working out the steps to forming whatever it is you're wanting to form.
From forging a flower to bending an 8 foot loop there is a logical(well, sometimes) path of how to make something.
"If I want this then I have to do A before I can do B.."
This process of deconstruction to construct is part of creating ironwork, and a behavior that I and most blacksmiths I know engage in when we are out in the world. We can't help we, we look at ironwork and try to figure out how it was built...
"Look at those gates, they must have had to put the twist in first and then slid the picket in after, and then riveted it" Says the Hubbinator to I.
"Yeh, but look at this, " Says Me, " they obviously forge welded this to this.." Etc..
It's kind of wacky, but we can't help it, we like to figure things out.
Which leads me to the Jig of Mordor=

The Jig of Mordor
It took me several days of fussing, cussing and thinking to come up with a forming jig(a thingy to shape metal with, used when you have many of the same shape to make)
In fact is was truly a pain in my ass, and nearly ended my marriage. Yet, here it is, a big loop that accurately reproduces the same loop with curved ends. Looks so innocent sitting there doesn't it? So simple, how could this be so hard?
Well, it has to do with my fuzzy chalk drawing, the design itself being very precise, and and no room for wiggle at all in the way the peices fit together. The first jig was a tad too big, thanks to my fuzzy drawing which got tightened up.
The loops are made out ten foot lengths of steel, that must first have a curve put into them at the ends, then wrapped around the jig to make the loops. They have to be exactly the same or the eye will be drawn to any dissimilarity in the piece. The design is Art-Deco, and very clean.

-Then there was the butting of the heads between blacksmiths, the pressure of looming deadlines, a few stressful days .. get the picture.
We prevailed and now the gate is ready for it's hinges and lock plate.
Can't wait to get it out of here!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Poppie heaven

Here they are.The lovely poppy seed poppy.
Every year I await their bloom, and this year the huge plants that self seeded from last year have burst open in a riot of crimson, burgundy, and pink. An Art Nouveau dream.

They are sown by the wind, scattered by my wanderings through the garden. This year they are over 4 feet high, the nodding heads heavy, the ruffled leaves like the skirts of Belle Epoch ladies.
I can't help but think of them as fancy women from a late Victorian Paris nightclub, can-can on the stage, absinthe in their glasses.
In the late summer harvest the seeds for baking, sprinkled on Ukrainian braid, baked in sweet poppyseed cake. Their culinary uses tie me to the centuries of Slavic women who used them as medicine, in cooking and for sacred offerings.

And I love them for their beauty.