Friday, August 30, 2013

California? - Course Suggestion

Ok - Most of those reading are not likely to be close enough to take this one in! 

Jim Austin  is well known for his excellent work replicating Viking Age axes. Especially in matching forging process to that indicated on artifact samples. I had attended his workshop at Ashokin NY last fall, and can tell you he is an excellent demonstrator. 

(Weekend Class)
Greetings to all medieval metalworking enthusiasts!
Would you like to learn the process by which early European metalworkers crafted the fine and costly steel for their storied weapons and beautiful hand tools?
This fall will see the continuation of Medieval Metalworking Classes at my blacksmithing studio at 2440 Adeline Street in Oakland, CA.  In this collection of classes I will be conducting an exploration of early metal working techniques and materials designed to immerse students in the craft of the early European metal worker.  Students who take up this challenge will increase their skills in evocative and unexpected ways, and will make some cool, historical objects in the process.  More classes will be announced soon.
In November I am offering a new weekend class that will focus on the alchemy of the ancient material known as“Shear Steel” (see below):
Saturday, November 23rd:                   Shear Steel from Wrought Iron
Sunday, November 2th:                        Forging and using a Fire Steel  
The maximum number of students in each class is 5 and the class will run if at least 3 students are enrolled one week in advance.  Classes will run from 10am to 6pm with a working lunch.  Pizza can be ordered in from nearby Arizmendi
Shear Steel was a major source of high-quality, high-carbon tool steel used by early European craftsmen in demanding applications such as sword and knife blades, tool bits, fire steels etc.  It was produced by a two-step process that began with infusing carbon into common, soft iron at high temperature.  The resulting, brittle product, known as Blister Steel, was refined by lamination in the smithy.  Due to its high cost this material was usually reserved for only that portion of a weapon or tool (such as an axe bit) that took the brunt of wear or impact in use.
Class description:
Making Medieval Shear SteelIn this class we will convert antique wrought iron into a high-carbon, brittle intermediate product called blister steel.  During this several-hour conversion process we will forge weld previously prepared blister steel into bars of refined shear steel which the students can use for such forging projects as knives (also pattern-welded!), firesteels, hand tools, etc.
Forging and using a Fire Steel:  In this class we will forge and harden fire steels from high carbon shear steel based on original Viking artifacts.  We will produce  "char cloth" which is used to catch and propagate the sparks that are struck from firesteels with flints and also learn how to start fires using our own tools.  Each student will finish the class with a firesteel made from historically correct material as well as a flint and supply of charcloth.
Please come and learn about the origins and use of shear steel – one of the truly elemental and pivotal materials in early European technology . Class space is somewhat limited so I encourage you to register by emailing a response to this message.   You can pay by Paypal using this LINK  (Add to Cart button is at bottom), or by sending a check to:
James Austin
2440 Adeline Street
Oakland  CA  94607

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Elmer Roush Workshops

Taken from the OABA Summer Newsletter:


Elmer Roush has been operating a full time black- smithing business since 1987.
His work has included specialized tools, 18th century style hardware, traditional and contemporary architectural work and a production line of candle holders, letter openers and fireplace tools.  Today he pursues his interest in understanding how the skilled smiths of our past made the precisely forged implements for the trades.

Elmer began blacksmithing in 1970 and was self-taught for six years, after which he attended workshops at Arrowmont School of Crafts, Haystack School of Crafts and the John C.Campbell Folk School. He has also studied blacksmithing in what was Czechoslovakia under Master smith Vaclav Jaros.

Elmer has taught blacksmithing at a number of schools including Peters Valley, Touchstone,
Appalachian Center for Crafts, and the John C. Campbell Folk School. He assisted in setting up the Cearta Inneona blacksmithing school in Ireland in 1999 and was head instructor and acting CEO for the school for a year. Elmer has demonstrated widely at local and state blacksmithing conferences across America and made a trip to the yearly blacksmiths gathering near Brisbane in Australia in 2001 to teach and demonstrate. He was a studio monitor at the Haystack School of Crafts and a resident artist at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina for eight years up to 2002.

Elmer recreates tools and implements using the time proven technologies that craftsmen from the earliest metal working period of our history would easily recognize. If a metal worker from ancient Babylon was time shifted into Elmer’s forge he would have no difficulty in recognizing most of the equipment (*) and would surely delight in the improvements.

By breathing new life into these old metal craftsmen’s techniques Elmer is helping to preserve our metal working heritage that modern society is so dependent upon but yet has largely taken for granted and forgotten. Besides his products appealing to preservation and re-enactment groups and societies, there are interior designers, architects and home builders
who will also want to enhance and enrich their environments with these outstanding items and by so doing introduce intriguing and beautiful historical artifacts to a new generation who would other-wise only get access to them in museum showcases.

Viking Age Lock replica (see : Locks )
We will be holding the event at the Norwood Fairgrounds.
On the Saturday, Elmer will be giving a demonstration. Some of the things Elmer may be
demonstrating include:
10th century style Viking padlock,
belt axe and/or spear head;
socketed arrow head;
colonial period cooking utensils and tools;
wrought iron;
charcoal making;
moving steel with a hand hammer.
Nominal fee of $20.

'Viking Age' Axe (see : Axes )
On the Sunday and Monday, he will be leading a workshop, making 10th century-style Viking pad- locks and 10th century-style dividers.
Members are encouraged to bring their own forges, but don't worry if you don't have your own, there will be plenty to spare. All skill levels are welcome and encouraged to attend. You are guaranteed to learn a lot about blacksmithing, both the specifics of how to make period-authentic pieces and general techniques.
Targeted fee of $75 per day.

Contact Mick Smith ASAP to register for the workshop.
Camping is available at the fairgrounds, $15 per day, showers are available.

See more of Elmer’s work at:

President: Mick Smith 
RR 3 6723 Jones Baseline, 
Fergus ON N1M 2W4 
(519) 843-6655  

Note to Readers:

I do not know Elmer Roush, or his work, personally.

The demonstration certainly represents a good opportunity, and a one day workshop for only $75 is certainly good value.
Norwood is about 20 minutes drive east of Peterborough, on Highway 7.

The work on the Viking Age locks looks quite good (from the web site). The axe work looks more modern in finish. The better axes are the various Settlement Period ones.

(*)  For the serious history people reading:
Babylon - as an ancient centre, traces its history from roughly 3000 BC to about 1000 + BC.
This places it as a primary BRONZE working culture. Iron use (human smelted iron) does enter use about the same range. It is only by the end of the Babylonian culture that this metal may have seen some use.


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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