Saturday, March 12, 2016

Copper and Wood

One thing I have been working on lately is coppersmithing- getting up there to make some nice copper hinges to go with the cherry box. Making sure to save scraps and copper dust for future pit firing experiments.

First piece was learning basic forming operations with copper and torch colors. 

Stick the guitar pick upright in a crack, heat up the tip to almost melting- it needs to be as soft and thin as possible. 

Second object was a copper bracelet.

Copper is fortunately soft enough that raising and sinking procedures can be done on wood, such as this maple branch I used to create the bracelet. For anticlastic forging, the serpent beaker can be metal, wood or plastic; metal hammers are used on wood/plastic, wooden/plastic hammers on metal beakers. 

I also chopped up a tree I found in the woods, and sawed it up. Soft wood, I believe it is poplar.

Sadly the sawing revealed beatles larvae. I will cut off the beatle tunnel sections and hope there will be enough wholesome wood to use for a forge stand.

Yep, I have some welding goggles now and hope to take another swing at forging; hoping to make great bellows soon.  

Oh, and I found a great video on PBS:

Got some good info there, shows making good crucible steel, not the inferior steel made in Europe and Japan, and pretty much everywhere until the Industrial Revolution.  Would've loved seeing more forging and less mock-battles/ swordplay.

. It's fun seeing a smith with such a mix of traditions: Viking sword, Viking forge, staple vise, waterstones, dog head hammer and sledgehammer- although knowing the world, the staple vise probably is not a pure Japanese thing- the 'Japanese saw vise' is identical to Viking clamps, the 'Japanese box bellows' was introduced to them from China. 

I think it is quite silly to separate oneself into either all-hand tools, all Western tools, or all Japanese. There isn't a single 'perfect' way of doing things, just what you like. I hope to one day soon be working with a nice workbench, even if I'm using Japanese saws.

 Now, can I use a 3/4" bolt for a shoulder vise?

Edit: a user on reddit has been answering my questions on bellows. While bellows are easy to build, especially Viking bellows, if the fabric/seams aren't done right and the bellows burst, severe hearing damage will occur...maybe I should give box bellows another shot. 

In Memorial of a Father and a Teacher

So, the blog has been inactive for quite a while now.

I don't think there are many regular readers, but even so, I feel like I should explain why the blog has been inactive.

My father was an excellent man- he was the finest example of a teacher that one could find in New York State. There are people out there that consider teachers to be lowly, a job for those who are not able to accomplish whatever they are teaching- effectively, 'those who can't do, teach'- but those people have not had the pleasure of knowing a great teacher, and if they have, then they have their head so buried in the dirt that they may be able to tell you what the earth's center looks like.

A great teacher inspires, engages, and educates, both in the subject matter and in the entirety of life. My dad was definitely one of those- and knowing what he did makes me believe that teaching can be the position for an artisan.

  1. a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand.

Teaching is one of the hardest trades to master. There are many who can say what they are doing, but to be able to get a student to understand, is a different thing. It truly is a skill that few possess.

It is not standing up in a room and saying "2 plus 2 is 4." It's telling the students WHY 2 plus 2 is four. It's actively engaging kids, helping them with their problems, and paying individual attention to their problems. My father, like many good teachers, was available almost any time his students needed him. Others look at the kids and not want to spend the time on them- they don't want to deal with them, or they don't think they can succeed with their disabilities. My father did. 

Did he make things with his hands? In a way, he did. He wrote and graded assignments and gestured. But he made things with his mannerism, his speech, his whole being. These things may not be inanimate objects in a corner or put into a cabinet, what my father created was far, far more important. He made people believe in themselves. He nurtured literacy and life skills. For much of his career, he fought for the rights of the union- going on trips. 

Despite all teachers do, and all my father did, they face hardships in the face of many people in America going after education and unions. Teachers are not paid well, but there are those who believe even that is 'too much'. 

Despite the stress my father faced, he still went to work every day. He didn't ignore a student's email or text. He went with his fellow teachers to the pub, the bartender joking how he can always tell the young teachers from the old as the young teachers still have hope in their eyes. He smiled and he laughed, and dealt with the politics and the bullcrap with the patience of a great man. Then he came home and helped us clean up and asked us how our days went. 

He volunteered throughout the community, coached soccer for many years. He loved a good craft beer and among his multitude of famous dishes, pulled pork and gołąbki were the ones many family friends looked forward to, requesting them frequently. He frequently remarked how 'you can never beat a good burger,' and loved going to the NYS State Fair and getting chocolate milk, a potato, and a free shirt. 

He was hoping to retire early, none the less; the February break we had with him he was immensly happy. For reasons we can only guess with, he decided to spend time with me and my sister at the doctors getting allergy shots; he remarked how nice it was to not have stress for a week. He really was hoping to retire early, even if it meant he wouldn't have as much money. 

He was looking forward to another summer break of visiting parks and camping.

The Monday following, February 22, he got up early, and pet the dogs while reading. He talked with Mom, told some jokes, said "I love you", watched me get on the bus, and went to work.

After a meeting at work, he got up, said "I don't feel good," and collapsed.

I was pulled from history class, not knowing why until I was told my father collapsed by my mother; when I got to the hospital, he was dead. 

Besides being a great teacher, a great chef, he was a great father. When I was slightly depressed after getting a bone disease and unable to play soccer, he was the one who brought a dusty scroll saw out, and told me I can either sit around feeling sorry for myself or get over it. 

He helped me build my first longboard, showing me how to use the jig saw and sander to shape it correctly. 

He was the one who could get everyone to laugh, a favorite uncle of his family. A wise man with a near-permanent sly smirk. 

Goodbye, Dad.