Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Swords at Ashokan...

Announcing the 2016 Ashokan Sword Seminar!

 Ashokan Sword Seminar: September 16-18, 2016
 The New England Bladesmiths Guild's annual seminar provides an opportunity for both beginners and advanced knife makers to learn from and work with some of the most skilled bladesmiths in the world. This year's seminar will focus specifically on swords. You will learn design concepts, metallurgy, forging and finishing techniques, heat treatment, and using your finished pieces. This is a multi-level workshop for beginners and experienced craftsmen alike, with both forging demonstrations by world renowned craftsmen and hands-on forging opportunities. Equipment, steel, and coal will be provided and available for sale to begin your own home workshop!
Autumn Dagger by Phil Baldwin and Jim Kelso
"Autumn Dagger" by Phil Baldwin and Jim Kelso.
Our demonstrator team for the weekend includes lectures and demonstrations by Peter Johnsson, Ric Furrer, Phil Baldwin, Jim Kelso, Kevin Cashen, and Dan Maragni. Mike Edelson and Tristan Zukowski will be putting their European Longsword combat skills on display, and Tom Walter and Mike Polluck will be demonstrating Kendo and Tamashigiri techniques. Demonstrator bios and examples of their work may be viewed on our website by clicking here. Demonstrator lineup
Sword by Kevin Cashen
Pattern welded sword by Kevin Cashen.
We begin the weekend Friday evening with a delicious meal in Ashokan's new spacious dining hall. Dan Maragni will open the seminar with an introduction and program overview, leading into the evenings lectures and open forge time. Saturday's program will include lectures by world renowned sword expert from Sweden Peter Johnsson, up-close engraving demonstrations on our new wide-screen monitor by Jim Kelso, a blade forging demo by Kevin Cashen, and a chance to see swords in action by the weapon arts teams. The evening program will include low and high-tech heat treatment demonstrations, and the usual display of culinary and beverage delights.Five fully equipped forging stations will be available to work directly with the demonstration team. For more program details, click here.Seminar schedule
Comfortable Lodging and Tasty Meals
Come for the food, and stay for the demo!
View the Ashokan Center Facility and Lodging options here.
For private room pricing and reservation information, please reply to this message, or call Tim at the number below.
Many registration package options are available including: 
  • $30 Sunday Knife show and lunch
  • $100 Saturday Demo only
  • $120 Saturday Demo, lunch, all day beverages.
  • $175 Saturday Demo, 3 meals, and evening program.
  • $310 Demo, 6 meals, 2 nights lodging
Early bird prices shown here are valid thru September 1, 2016
More options and $90 student discounts are available on the Registration Page
Adults attending as a chaperon for a child may register as a student.
Work study discounts are also available at the student rate. Contact Tim for information. 

Payment Options: Pre-registration is required! Please register on-line and chose one of the following options.
  • Credit Card via Paypal
  • Mail check
  • Pay at the door
Checks or cash preferred to save the organization a paypal fee.
Future Blacksmithing Events at The Ashokan Center:
  • Northeast Blacksmiths Association Fall Hammer-In September 30-October 2, 2016
  • Northeast Blacksmiths Association Spring Hammer-In: April 28-30, 2017
New England Bladesmith Guild
Tim Neu "The Registration Guy"
This event has some simply great people as the demonstrators. Alas, I will be in Scotland by that point of my upcoming European Adventure. From Central Ontario, its an easy day's drive down to Ashokan (about two hours north of New York City - so other than traffic around Toronto, the northern route via the Thousand Islands Bridge is all country driving.) Highly Recommended!

Saturday, August 20, 2016


The ideal hammer for an individual is determined by head proportions, shape, weight, and handle length, grip profile and diameter. 

David Robertson for example uses a standard hammer that I personally find very uncomfortable to use. We both have considerable experience in equipping many students with tools over many years (I must easily have 50 hammers here in a dozen styles). I should also say my own personal hammer has been in my hands since the early 1980's. At 800 gms, I do about 85 % of my own work with that one hammer. (Any smith is likely to say the same thing about 'their' hammer!) 
Raw weight also needs to be considered against stock size being formed - and the desired effect for that forming. Generally heavy means a harder impact, but also means less control. Control is significantly more important (in my view) than mere power. This also can become a significant safety problem. Use of too heavy a tool for an individual, especially if the grip is not correct, can easily result in tramatic damage to elbow tendons, development of joint damages. (Yes - this specifically known from painful personal experience!) Tendon damage is a life long injury that never fully recovers.

1) Princess Auto / Deals / KW Surplus 'American' style square head cross peen, made in China = 800 gms / cost about $10 each.
Note that these now have very bad plastic handles which need be replaced (see below). Over the years the handles have gone from junk wood to fiberglass to the current (horrible) plastic

2) Princess Auto Ball peen, made in Italy = 710 gms / cost $23 each
This is an excellent hammer, which outperforms anything else in its class. Great shaped ash handles. (There is a 900 gm version at $32 - also an excellent 'starting' hammer)

3) Professional Farriers Supply (Orangeville) Rounding hammer = 800 gms / cost about $30 each
This is notably a very short handle, and an extremely balanced head. (So ideal for physically smaller / less strong individuals). (There is a 1000 gm version at about $45, which again has the balanced head) Rounding hammers (on flat, one slightly crowned face) are excellent for a number of forging tasks btw.

Handles - Home Hardware 16 inch ash blacksmith's handle / cost about $8 each These are excellent handles. You will have to ask to have them ordered in (these are open stock, but most stores just don't carry them).

The image here shows the three hammers listed:
 - The American pattern has a fiberglass handle - these hammers were available this way for a short time a number of years back.
- The hammers have wooden handles conform to what I personally consider the correct profile. This thins the handle just below the eye to reduce impact shock. (This does limit the life of the handle, but handles are cheap and elbows are not.)
- My own hammers (green tape) have also got extra (hockey & foil) tape protection just below the head. Also silicone rubber tape on the grip (again reduced impact shock).

As you can see - I consider hammer selection critically important to effective forge technique - and long term working ability.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Ypres 2016 update

Newsletter from the Poppy Cenotaph project
View this email in your browser and translate

Blacksmiths and Farriers Remembering WW1

To commemorate the sacrifices of their forefathers and all who were affected by the war, a striking Cenotaph in the form of a Flanders Field poppy will be created at an International Blacksmithing Event to be held in the Grote Markt, Ypres, Belgium in September 2016.  Read more


Ypres 2016 is Nearly Here

After many, many months of planning and endless hard work by so many's nearly here!

Flights are booked, forges arranged, accommodation reserved, exhibits shipped, hammers ready and blacksmiths and farriers preparing to make their way to Flanders to meet with fellow smiths to create the unique and striking Poppy Cenotaph.

Children's Poppy Wreath

The children's wreath, to be laid at the Menin Gate at the Last Post Ceremony on 5th September has now been assembled. Containing poppies forged by children from France, Belgium, Wales,  England, Italy and Germany,  the wreath was assembled by Robert Smith, Luc Vandecasteele, Manicx Carlieri and Rik Verschoot. Read more

Panel Designs

The final designs for the 25 panels which will surround the Cenotaph have been submitted and approved. They can all be viewed on the project website along with the blacksmiths interpretations of their designs.  View here

Cenotaph Foundations Prepared

Site preparations have been undertaken at Langemark Poelkapelle where the Cenotaph will eventually be erected. . The local authority have generously taken responsibility for the extensive foundations and landscaping work at the site in preparation for the Cenotaph. We are grateful to the local authority for their wholehearted support. View images 

Forging Programme Published

The forging programme for the 25 Masters at Ypres 2016 has now been confirmed. Working delegates are limited to 160 to ensure every delegate who wishes to work is guaranteed a place on a team with a master. Team selection will be made by the forge master and his assistants. View here

Fundraising Boost

The Ypres 2016 fundraising programme has received a real boost in recent weeks through corporate donations, in-kind support and proceeds from the sale of poppies. However we still have a little way to go to reach our target and the successful creation of the Cenotaph. Donations can be made through the project website and the organisers will appreciate any further support for the project. Donate here

Artist Alberto Dalle Valle at Ypres

Young Italian artist Alberto Dalle Valle is going to be at Ypres 2016 and will draw and sketch different situations as they unfold at the event, just as a war artist would have done. He is working on a book which will reflect on the hardship endured by all those involved in the conflict. He will also be running children's workshops. Read more about Alberto

Our Poppies are Flourishing

We've seen a significant increase in the sale of the beautifully crafted poppies in the past few months with all proceeds going to fund the Cenotaph project. Extensive publicity work has seen sales increase as the general public have become aware of the project. Please share with your networks and let them know where to buy the poppies. Visit our online shop

Forge Stations layout at Ypres

Forgemaster Henry Pomfret and his team have been busy arranging the forging stations for the event including their layout.  There is a tight timescale for setting up in the Grote Markt prior to the event, so it's essential that every last detail has been considered and planned carefully. The team has been meeting regularly to discuss and plan the arrangements which will enable the teams of blacksmiths to work.

BlacksmiHER Radio Interviews

A series of interviews with blacksmiths worldwide who are participating in Ypres 2016 is being recorded for BlacksmitHER radio. Interviewed by Victoria Patti, many of the blacksmiths participating explain their panel designs and their involvement in Ypres 2016. Listen to these great interviews
Don't Leave it too Late to Register

Many blacksmiths have already secured their place to forge at Ypres 2016 and registered delegates will be allocated to teams with Masters in the next few days. Register now or you may miss out.  A flat rate fee of £75, $110 or €95 is being charged whether you attend for 1 day or all 6 days.  Do it now!

Takayoshi Komine Japanese Master

Japanese  Blacksmith Takayoshi Komine from Tokyo will be a Master at Ypres. He has an impressive blacksmithing pedigree and the organisers are very pleased he will be at Ypres. You can find details of his work here  Read more

Buyse Joris Supporting

Buyse Joris a Belgian construction company have undertaken the task of casting the segments that make up the concrete mound at the base of the Cenotaph and have generously provided all of the materials and equipment.   Read more
Contact your Local Media

The project is gaining significant media coverage around the world - but we need blacksmiths and farriers to help through contacting their local newspapers, radio and television to further raise the profile of Ypres 2016.  We are happy for information from the Ypres 2016 website to included in blogs etc. We've produced a media pack and press release templates to help you do this, just email

Tell us What You're doing for Ypres 2016

Many blacksmiths and farriers all over the world are working hard on behalf of Ypres 2016. We want to share what you've been doing with everyone so please keep us updated through Facbook, twitter or email.
Sign up to our Newsletter
Forward to a Friend

This event is part of GoneWest, the cultural remembrance of WW 1 by the provice of West-Flanders, Belgium.
Copyright © 2016 Ypres 2016, All rights reserved.
This email originates from the Ypres 2016 Newsletter

You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

This email was sent to
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Ypres 2016 · . · . · ., . WC · United Kingdom

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp

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