So after the initial tooling was finished it was time to look at the half moon and grip sections of the sheath tooling! I did some thinking and contacted my buddy Luke Shearer for some advice on how to go about creating the correct theme for the carvings. I like the carving and motifs to be full of meaning, and so the final idea was to use the half moon shape to act both as the moon itself and bear the name of this seax. The carving on that portion of the sheath reads "I am Silverlight" in Old Norse. From there I wanted the sheath to evoke reflection and the power that lies in the moons ability to reflect and seemingly create this beautiful silver light that has always mesmerized humans. I chose to mirror the top section of the main sheath and write runes backwards in Old Norse, as if they were written and could only be seen in a reflection. Obvious nods to Jake Powning and J.R.R Tolkien as well as the old craftspeople that came long before us! The runes tell who made the seax, the name, and for whom it was made!
I really like this shot as it shows the carving in progress, I wanted to find and define the depth quickly on this part of the carving.
And here's the tooling finished!
And the morning after! I cut a small section off a sponge, got some gloves on and went to town with some black water based leather dye!
Now its time to take those fancy little U shaped pieces of silver and get them to be a shape I like. After a little bit of gentle persuasion with a piece of leather and a soft plastic mallet I was ready to begin drilling. I borrowed a small jewelry bench top drill press from a friend and cleaned it up nicely so I wouldn't get any unsavory oils or dirt onto the sheath while I worked.
I drilled a few holes and the wiped off the chips and bits of leather. It's pretty stressful worrying about whether you'll damage the carving by accident at this point in the game.
I fit the top piece and scribed and drilled the holes, using brass escutcheon pins as my place holder rivets to keep everything perfectly aligned during my work. This was all done before the belt grinder at the new shop was hooked up, so I used the jewelers saw to cut the silver slightly oversized and filed the rest.
Once all the filing and polishing was done I carefully marked where my lines and holes would be and used a carbide tipped scribe to cut my decorative lines in. I began to make paper templates for the ring holders also.
I did the chape the same way, carefully annealed then bent around the tip of the scabbard with some gentle taps.
So then calamity hit! I had scoured the entire (virtual) globe for sterling silver rivets but when I finally found them and they came in they were slightly undersized. Just enough to make them buckle with the softest hammering. I went to visit my good friend and fellow forumite Matt Berry and he advised me that the easiest and best way forward would actually be to cast the rivets and then clean them up.
We had a less than perfect turn out, which isn't surprising when each of them has a stem thats just over a millimeter in diameter. We had 84 successful rivets I believe which was great because I needed 79! A margin of five is plenty of room for error right?
I did a loooot of careful filing and buffing to clean up each individual rivet head. Matt made a beautiful little riveting tool for supporting the front of the rivet while I finish the back.
Matt is always prepared, and when I contacted him about making the suspension rings I was thinking about for this seax, it turned out he had already carved the waxes and made the molds a few months ago, so it was an easy task! While we had the rivets in the investment getting ready for the casting I spent a day cleaning and polishing the rings as well as making the suspension plates.
With some careful cutting I made a recess for the ring to sit beneath the front plate of the sheath. I have struggled with this detail in the past, but this seems like the most efficient and clean way to make the lines of the piece flow smoothly.
Just before the top plate goes on! You can see the silver strap is flush with the surface of the leather.
I also had to bend the suspension plates into a roll in order to fit the ring through, and in the flattening they relaxed a bit and took some denting, so I used a piece of wood and a file to come back to flat and then polish up again. Here I'm working to remove everything that isn't flat silver.
It was a fairly stressful two days trying to finish everything while not compromising quality, but I think it was pretty successful! Seeing the pieces coming together like I had planned was the icing on the cake, and just before it started getting dark I was able to wax the leather, polish the silver, and call it a day, but not before some quick photos!
Hope you guys enjoy! I'll be updating the thread with better photos when I have a moment to take them. Hope everyone has a great finish to 2018 and an even better 2019!