Saturday, August 09, 2008

Pine Cones

Greetings everyone! Imagine my surprise when I discovered that some of my freinds actually read this blog! More than one and less than 20, so heck that's pretty good...I admit I am not a regular writer. I love writing, but since my back got all crunchy, sitting for any length of time was extremely painful. Also Iam not a fast writer. I like to drink coffee, listen to polka and really think about what Iam going to say here. So it takes a little time, and I don't always have time.
But today I do!
This weeks adventure=
Making Pinecones

Here Iam standing at our Little Giant power hammer.This mighty machine was built back in 1900 ish. Making it the oldest thing in the shop next to myself and the Hubbinator. No it's true. My Uncle Max(saint Max) from Nebraska found this mighty beast and shipped it out to us , thus saving our shoulders from eternal tendonitis. It has a 25 lb blow, meaning if it were to hit your hand it would be very very painful and messy.
Iam operating it by stepping down on a bar at the base, this engages the the gears and tells the machine to hammer slow, fast or "Holy Hell who let the horses out?!!!"
Some sort of a power hammer has been in use by blacksmiths since oh...the iron age. The Hellenic Greeks used them(Hail Hephestus..) Water powered hammers and then steam powered hammers have been used to forge everything from plough shares to the giant cogs of the industrial revolution.
But for my humble use this week, I was forgeing 2 inch square solid bar into pine cone shaped blanks.
Before and After

After I bash the heck out of the square stock in the power hammer I take it to my anvil and shape it up. I could build a fancy forming die to use in the power hammer but I just didn't take the time. I also wanted to enjoy the hand forging, and practice my skills. So, from square, to a wedge shape, then I round it up to a pine cone shape.

Forging away

The corners getting rounded, all the flats need to be curved so when I chisel it will bite into the steel.
All this is hot work. I usually don't wear a glove on my hammer hand, but thick steel radiates some monster heat..and frankly I got tired of it. The handsome shield behind me was built by our freind Bob, who is also a smith and wily craftsman.

The Pink Fist of Rohan
This is an utterly staged pictured to give you an idea of how I chisel the pine cones open. I heat them to yellow, swiftly place them in the vice, and using a curved chisel, "cut" out the petals of the cone. Iam not being ultra realism driven on this , but I do want them to look real-ish.
So I slowly work my way down the cone, turning it, cutting into it. Laborious as heck.- and if some other smith has a better 'n faster way then please send in your tips for consideration.

It was hotter than heck outside the day I started this. There I was, in my thermal shirt trying not to get a radiant burn from 1500 degree steel, sweating my arse off. Some people go to fancy spas and spend big bucks to be uncomfortably hot and sweaty. I get it for free!

The Results

Ta da!

A pine cone. Now I have to make four more, add the branches and pine boughs(another process) and add it all to a handrail. I know I grouse about being hot , sweaty, tired and all but when something turns out well it really is satisfying.
So tune in later to see the rest of it progressing. Hope everyones Lunasa was groovy, and the harvest is abundant for you all..


Anonymous said...

You know heidi I'm a slow writer too - totally unable to rattle something off in a couple of minutes.
I'm totally in awe(ore?) of what you do. That's incredible.

And yes I can relate with the sweating thing - though in a different way - wearing full waterproofs in torrential, but warmish, rain, moving stock through long, wet, tangled grass up a hill. Why did I put the waterproofs on? I was wetter inside than I would have been getting drenched in the rain, well almost!

FrauKlug said...

Paula Iam in awe of what you do!
I sometimes wonder if Iam on the right path, and then I get such awesome feed back.Thank you so much.
It hit 100 degrees here today, and I honestly thought I would faint dead in front of the forge. It is supposed to hit 107 tommorrow. Needless to say no hot work. I'll take some of your rain in exchange for the sun right about now.

Ugh!there is nothing like being steamed alive inside waterproof gear while busting your butt with hard work. It is miserable.
Well, I suppose moving cattle in a bathing suit would look bizarre, cause strange rumours and is not practical from a safety stand point.