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Blacksmith at work

by on 9 Jun 2011

Wander a short way down the Skansen road from our work site, and you come to one of the museum’s three forges, where Daniel, the blacksmith, rules. On his agenda the day of my first visit were small tools for the timber framers, starting with log dogs, large wrought iron staples used to stabilize logs for hewing. Daniel was assisted by student apprentices, each of whom stayed for a couple of hours to make one log dog.

The Forge

Having produced a series of  log dogs and other small tools, Daniel took on a more daunting project, the making of Goliath, one froe to rule them all. Too big a task to tackle alone without a mechanical trip hammer, the forging was accomplished by a team of strikers, the smith banging out the cadence with his hand hammer, like the hortator on a galley, and the stikers following sequentially with their sledges.

Sorry to report that we’ve had a problem with our photos inside the forge and will try to get together  a replacement series.

Here’s the final product (below), pre hafting.  I can only imagine the handle. Archimedes, this may be the lever you were looking for.

One Froe to Rule Them All

Has the Old Man come back? Northern New Englanders may notice in Goliath’s face a striking resemblance to the recently departed Old Man of the Mountain.

Team Goliath proudly presents its work.

If you have never hung out at your local blacksmith shop, you have been deprived. The dim interior (better to see the color of the metal), the labored breathing of the bellows, the leaping, roaring fire, the red hot iron emerging from the flames, the ring of the anvil, the swirling coal dust…  And all this before the smith works his magic with the hot metal.

But beware of staying too long in the dark confines of the forge. We’ve all seen horseshoes nailed to the sides of barns for luck. Take a second look and you’ll notice that the shoes open up, to the sky. Not so in the forge. There the shoes open down, to the ground, inviting aid from the chthonic powers (those that dwell below). So a caution about remaining too long out of the daylight in the red glow of the blacksmith’s fire.

*   *   *

Two contributions to this post. The first from Rachel DeBuque, a graduate of the University of Georgia sculpture program, and part of the second group of traveling students:

“Yesterday was group two’s first day on the work site and student group one had prepped us for what was to come. Oppressive sun, hard work, sore backs and hands were emphasized, so we knew we were in for a challenge. However, they also stressed how incredibly supportive and encouraging the timber framers and leaders are during the learning process. It was this nurturing environment that allowed us to jump into our work headfirst. What the first group may not have realized is that the environment that fostered their growth had allowed them to confidently teach group two new skills with the same encouragement that they had been given. The praise that they had given their group leaders can be given back to them from the students in group two. I am amazed at the industrious spirit of the Gwozdziec Synagouge Replication Team and I am proud to be part of the family-like spirit of those who are rebuilding history.”

And the Monday morning poetry reading by Rick Brown:

The Tables Turned

Up! up! my Friend, and quit your books;
Or surely you’ll grow double:
Up! up! my Friend, and clear your looks;
Why all this toil and trouble?

The sun above the mountain’s head,
A freshening lustre mellow
Through all the long green fields has spread,
His first sweet evening yellow.

Books! ’tis a dull and endless strife:
Come, hear the woodland linnet,
How sweet his music! on my life,
There’s more of wisdom in it.

And hark! how blithe the throstle sings!
He, too, is no mean preacher:
Come forth into the light of things,
Let Nature be your teacher.

She has a world of ready wealth,
Our minds and hearts to bless—
Spontaneous wisdom breathed by health,
Truth breathed by cheerfulness.

One impulse from a vernal wood
May teach you more of man,
Of moral evil and of good,
Than all the sages can.

Sweet is the lore which Nature brings;
Our meddling intellect
Mis-shapes the beauteous forms of things:—
We murder to dissect.

Enough of Science and of Art;
Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.

William Wordsworth

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One Comment
  1. Brilliant!

    Keep the Spirit alive.

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