Transformation is one of the most fundamental skills of the metal-smith. To take something that has had its use but become use-less and re-form it into a wholly new being is approaching magic. It is to me the single most enjoyable and important aspect of my work and forms the core of my beliefs on renewable technology, traditional methods and understanding of my medium.
Forge welding is one of these transformative processes that can allow the Artist–Metalsmith to take differing steels and Irons and create a new piece of fabric that can then be formed into the object.
Different metals such as an ancient Plough found on the farm (itself a composite object, being made of forge-welded Shear steel and wrought iron made by hands of men long dead), Farriers rasps put beyond their intended use and ruined railings. These steels can be brought together to form, literally, a new and unique piece of steel.
With its own unique surface patterns in the polished steel being produced by laborious folding and re-welding process to continually raise the number of total layers in the steel, quickly a number is reached where every sequential hammers blows dictates the “flow” and orientation of the grain pattern this creates a luxurious pattern likened to wood grain and made widely famous by the methods of Nihonto Japanese sword smiths.
As part of the on-going wedding commission I have been asked to produce a pair of wedding swords that are matched in the sense that they are both made from the same source materials.
These swords are special as they are heavily symbolic for the couple representing Ancestry and Protection. The swords form a central part of the customer’s ceremony.
This will be a lengthy, but highly rewarding process which I will document here.
The following WIP (work in progress) will endeavour to educate those interested in my methods of producing a sword. If there are any areas of the process that I skip over that you would like to ask me about, then please don’t hesitate to ask.
This is the first of the two swords that I am to produce
The hilt is forged copper and the grip is carved yew heart, the blade will be of the classical Nordic single edge
Firstly we have the raw materials
The plough was cut into equal sections and then forged flat to even out the surface texture pitting
These were then stacked and weighed as being 2.5 kg each I am expecting to lose a given amount(25%?) through the multiple welding passes and grinding etc but I will be interested to see just how much disappears into the ether.
More to come tomorrow