Saturday, September 06, 2014

As Rhynie Man - 2

Image by David Porter

the Rhynie Man

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Iron Smelt for 'Turf to Tools'

This is a fast overview of the progress so far at the "Turf to Tools' project at the Scottish Sculpture Workshop:

Team : (L-R) Thomas, James, Eden, Darrell

Air System, just as first graded charcoal is being added.

Initial Compaction - slag mass has been struck off at this point.

Forging the edges of the bloom.
I arrived at SSW later on Friday.
Saturday was filled with general preparations, and forging up some of the specialized tools expected to be needed for the smelting processes.
Sunday was preparing the ore and charcoal, then mixing the materials for the furnace and building it. (For a general description, see the earlier blog posts.)
Monday was smelt day - expected to be the first of three over the project.

31 kg of mixed ores were prepared. Primarily this was a mix of the local (unusual!) Macaulayite ore, with added industrial taconite. There was a small amount of red iron oxide analog used as well.

The furnace ran extremely well, consuming 2 kg of graded charcoal an average of every 11 minutes. This rate was much more consistent than normal in fact. Charges started with 1 kg, and mounted up to 2 kg per charcoal measure.

There was in fact more slag produced than normally seen.
The slag bowl formed higher than usual, and had a sharp edge turned up only about half way across the furnace. This was thought to be because of the blower used, which likely was not producing as much delivery pressure as the standard unit employed back in Wareham.

The finished bloom weight was just over 2 kg, not the best yield. This is considered to be an effect of the Macaulayite ore, which in fact may be a bit low in iron content. (Visually, this material looked quite 'sandy'.)
The extracted bloom, cleaned of slag, was a saucer shape, about 5 cm thick at the edges and roughly 20 cm in diameter.
Several compression steps were taken  on a large block using two strikers. At this point the 'plate' was transferred to a coal forge, where the edges were worked in and the entire mass was further compressed.
Work for this day (!!)  finished up by cutting the bloom into two rough half pieces, ready for further compacting and welding to consoldate the iron to a working bar - the work planned for Wednesday.
The initial furnace build was done

Monday, July 28, 2014


Copied directly from the SSW web site:

NEW Course!

Tuesday, 8th 2014f July, 2014

From Turf to Tools - The Aristotle Furnace
Artisan Blacksmith Darrell Markewitz will be leading a weekend course in bloomery iron production. Darrell, joining us from Canada for the Turf to Tools project, has over 35 years experience as an artisan blacksmith, with particular experience in ancient bloomery and forge processes.
This course is for anyone interested in metal as material, as well as those studying historic ironworking processes – in production or research. All participants will find the Aristotle a quick 'table top' method for producing small amounts of useful metal. The 'Aristotle Furnace' is a small charcoal furnace that will convert any kind of iron into a cake of metal with a set carbon content. In effect it allows conversion of scrap into a tool making material. The resulting 'puck' has the physical texture of a bloomery iron, but at a carbon level suitable for cutting blades.

In this two day / 16 hour-long hands on workshop, participants will first build, then operate their own furnace. A number of roughly 500 gm 'pucks' of metal will be made, experimenting with different starting materials. Finally, using a coal forge, individual pucks can be consolidated into working bars. If time permits, a small Iron Age style chisel or blade can be rough forged.

The course is open to all regardless of previous experience or ability, although those with background or knowledge in metal processes will definitely gain an invaluable experience – not to mention a new table top furnace that you can take away with you. All materials are included in the course fee, and participants will be provided with all the tools and safety equipment needed. Students must come dressed in long pants, all clothing of natural fibres (cotton, wool) only. Boots of some sort are required, ideally above ankle height.
Your instructor is Darrell Markewitz. He is a professional artisan blacksmith from Ontario, Canada, with over 35 years experience at the forge. A major area of his work has been with objects and processes from the Viking Age. He designed, created and implemented the living history program at L'Anse aux Meadows NHSC for Parks Canada, ongoing since 1996. His involvement with Ancient and Early Medieval bloomery iron smelting started in 2001, and he has undertaken over 55 experimental smelts since then. He is one of the founding members (and instigators) of the Early Iron movement in North America. Find out more via his web site
Title:   Aristotle Furnance
Date:  10am - 6pm Saturday 30 August to Sunday 31 August
Venue: Scottish Sculpture Workshop
Price: £180
To Book: please emaily or call 01464 861372

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Turf to Tools - Official Release!

From Turf to Tools – Rhynie Man Axe


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