... with apologies to Emily Dickinson. Just over a year ago a fist sized part of my brain died. A bit of plaque traveled up through my arteries and cut off circulation to my brain. No warning, no previous history; just sitting here reading a book. In the middle of snowstorm my wife drove me over Wolf Creek Pass thinking I may have had a heart attack. Nope. Pretty serious shit. The initial scan indicated that I had lost portions of three major areas of the left side of my brain. After the MRI scan pretty sure my wife expected a vegetable, maybe broccoli or corn since they are general favorites.
But most things came back. Things were off a bit but started some minimal forging a few months later, e.g. a few hooks and squirrel cookers.
And then my right should fell off. Well, almost. I had one tendon keeping it all together. All my muscles that were sorta keeping my shoulder together had atrophied from the stroke. In May 2021 I had a left shoulder reverse replacement.
So now, about a year later, I'm back to very simple forging. It happened that an acquaintance/teacher was passing through Creede and she offered me an introductory class in Higo Zogan. I had tried learning on my own a few years ago and it didn't go well. Nunome Zogan is Japanese overlay using various non-ferrous metals overlaid on Brass. Higo Zogan is non-ferrous metals overlaid on Steel. In higo zogan, silver or copper overlay is about 3mil (0.008") thick. An average human hair is about 0.004" thick.
The combination of minor forging and the delicate nature of the overlay is a pretty good combination and things are coming along.
For now, here are some simple bits of my current work. (There is a mix of both copper and silver overlay in the pictures.) Lots of folks are forging copper spoons, but the overlay is very unique.
I've been under the weather since October 2021. Like, seriously under the weather. Thank goodness it wasn't COVID, but I've hit a sequence of rather serious, unrelated, medical events and I understand that another storm is on the way. The result is that I haven't been in the forge since late October and it wasn't until this past week that I've felt stable being back in the forge and around machinery.
This past week I finally tackled a simple bit of forging and it feels good to have that ache deep in your bones and even get a burn or two.
Squirrel cookers are one the most basic pieces of forgery that comes up. They have the most basic elements of forging: shaping, cutting, and twists. All these cookers are made from 3/8" mild steel and are strong enough for everything from steak strips to marshmallows. They get used a lot for Welsh Rabbit when we are camping (cheese spread on toast) and work fine as a simple fork, but also have a convenient stand. The other end of the fork is a curved billy pot for heating small cans over a fire. They were common in kits for explorers and fur traders and are now found at every rendezvous.
The patina is a simple wax coating that won't hold up long over the fire and being stuck in the ground. If a coat of fat or wax is wiped over the warm metal work, the rust can be fought off at least temporarily.
Finally, it's clear that the forge won't be open for the Creede Studio Tour in August. When things clear up and the forge gets back to normal, I'll post something.
A few quick bottle openers for a local equestrian lover. Got careless, forgot to set safety post on treadle hammer, and broke the tips on two fingers along with a joint on pointer finger. Getting better at these; no alligators in the batch (long noses make them look like gators). Got requests for some mules, maybe next time.
Working on a very small, but interesting project for a local ranch: forging some simple brackets for mounting dueling pistols above their new bar. Used a hot oil bath for the patina so the color of the bracket would match the color of the gun steel.
... that's impossible. Only try to realize the truth: There is no spoon.
Some geegaws for visitors to the shop during the Studio Tour.
Started a new sundial that is of the style of the original sundials that I first forged about 7 years ago. I still enjoy this sundial style - there are a few blacksmithing techniques that always provide a challenge. Getting better with each one but still interesting to me.
the Mad tinker
Just an archive of projects as they progress. Nothing really to see here. Move along ...