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Light from Within

peter johnsson

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Hello all brothers and sisters f the flame!


It was now long since I last made a post. This year has been a bit different because of the work preparing the upcoming exhibition at the Deutsches Klingenmuseum: The Sword - Form and Tought.

It will open on the 24th of September, in just a few days.
Most of the work has been the documentation and analysis of all the swords to be exhibited, some 48 swords in all. They will be presented with photographs and drawings with analysis of their proportions. Their dynamic properties shall also be presented in a new way in diagrams to facilitate side by side comparison of handling characteristics. The work on dynamic properties has been done together with Vincent le Chevalier, who has invested much work in honing the models of calculations.

Another aspect of this exhibit that I personally find exiting is that the museum was interested in displaying the work of contemporary makers alongside the ancient swords. This is to highlight the craft aspect of the sword though the ages up to current times.
The makers Ralf Hoffmann & Sabine Piper, Jake Powning, Petr Florianek and myself were invited to create swords on the interpretation of the Word Xiphos as "Piercing Light".

Being part of the team that develop this exhibition, it wa very exiting to me to se the progress made by the other makers. I was constantly astounded by the creativity, dedication and skill displayed. I think their results are something very special, showing the potential of sword making today.

And now, finally, my own contribution has been finished and delivered to the museum. My take on this theme was to make a sword of the mind. The blade that embodies critical decision, clear insight and sudden revelation. The name of the sword is "Light from Within". This is a section from the text that goes with the sword in the catalogue:

"An instant rift in the well established understanding. A bright spark setting alight unknown networks of associations, starting an unstoppable chain reaction. Like the fire of a peat bog it smoulders under the surface of intuition and suddenly bursts open in a white hot maw that consumes all normal expectations. It rots away steadfast convictions from underneath, living a parasitic life on comfortable truths making them hollow and insubstantial. Like a reflective globe rising from the dark it increases in size as it rushes towards the surface. I do not yet know what this quivering thing is that reaches out to me from the scorched fragments that flake away after the blinding flash.
For a while now it has been here right beside me and I should have known. A friend, probably, tearing down all I knew when I least expected it. Brittle bones snap under my bare feet as I walk laughing towards the prospect ahead of me.
Taking the shape of a sword, it hovers over the surface of a dark pool in the heart of the forest, reflecting light from within. Right before the moment of crystallization it splits the covering veil, knowledge glinting along its edge."


































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Give me a minute to respond...

I need time to pick my jaw up off the floor.


The fundamental cause of trouble is that the stupid are cocksure, while the intelligent are full of doubt. -Bertrand Russell, philosopher
follow me on Instagram @raggedravenforge

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Peter, that is a great take on the association between the blade and the cutting power of reason. Johnsson's Razor. Also, that is one of the coolest pommels in all of pommeldom. The subtle form and careful asymmetry are outstanding. Same for the fuller. The steel is beautiful.


I think that the entire exhibition will be quite memorable, and hopefully it will strengthen the general public's awareness of the level of ability of modern craftsmen such as yourself and our friends and colleagues that you mentioned.


Thanks for working to bring this exhibition to fruition, and for promoting your craft.


best, kc

please visit my website http://www.professorsforge.com/


“Years ago I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on the earth. I said then and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” E. V. Debs

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:o:o:o You have rendered me speechless, Peter, and that is not easy! Wow... totally unconventional, yet undeniable. This sword has gone where no other sword has dared. And it does look like it may glow from within if you're not careful. ;)

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it will be great to see this fine piece of Art in Reality.



But , sorry Peter ....the Opening of the Exihibition is on the 25. September ! Not the 24. :)

(Hope that the Invitation from the Museum is correct)


Greetings from Germany



Edited by D.Kraft
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Ever since the first Arctic Fire, when I had a chance to sit and speak at length with Peter and Jake, I've been just smitten with the idea of "Sword as Vehicle for Narrative."


This is perhaps the finest example of this I've seen. It's a game changer. A complex metaphor elegantly rendered via the sword.


Thanks for sharing this with the forum, Peter. As always you're an inspiration.




"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly." -- Theodore Roosevelt


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I don't know what else to say than words fail to describe the the feelings evoked by your work. I only regret that I will not be able to see it in person! Indeed, this is truly a marvel of beauty.



Not all those who wander are lost. -J.R.R. Tolkien

-Shards of the Dark Age- my blog
-Nine Worlds Workshop-
-Last Apocalypse Forge-

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Holy sharp things O_O

The smith also sitteth by the anvil,

And fighteth with the heat of the furnace,

And noise of the hammer and the anvil is ever in his ears,

And his eyes look still upon the pattern of the thing that he maketh,

He setteth his mind to finish his work,

And waitethto polish it perfectly.


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:o:o:o You have rendered me speechless, Peter, and that is not easy! Wow... totally unconventional, yet undeniable. This sword has gone where no other sword has dared. And it does look like it may glow from within if you're not careful. ;)

You should totally pin this piece! I don't say that about many things, but I think everyone would agree that Peter's sword deserves it!


Peter, I can hardly speak to the greatness of this piece, it is on a level beyond anything ordinary. The Xiphos project really set the bar a notch higher for swords, and led a few amazing smiths to produce swords that are nothing short of god-like.

The sword you made here, as well as Jake's contribution, his the bronze sword are my very favorite, and in my opinion represent the absolute quintessence of what it means to be a swordsmith.


If I could ask one technical question, how did you get your fuller (assuming it is meant to be a fuller) to be shaped like that? I've never seen one like that before, it looks like something you might see on an Arabic sword or dagger and I like it a lot.

“If you trust in yourself. . . believe in your dreams. . . and follow your star. . . you will still get beaten by the people who have spent their time working hard and learning things, the people who weren't so lazy.” ~ Terry Pratchett


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That is equally inspiring and humbling. To be honest, I am not really at a point where I can even appreciate the level of effort and craftsmanship required. So many of the details would be major efforts for me all by themselves.


Can you explain what is going on in the 14th and 15th pictures? I've come back to look at this post several times today, but still can't figure out what is going on in those pics.


Thanks for what you do!


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Words fail me also, I've pondered several and they all fall short. I'm just glad I get to see it, even if not in person.

George Ezell, bladesmith

" How much useful knowledge is lost by the scattered forms in which it is ushered to the world! How many solitary students spend half their lives in making discoveries which had been perfected a century before their time, for want of a condensed exhibition of what is known."

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Your words humble me.
Thank you for such praise and appreciation.

It makes me very glad that this sword may reach across somehow. That was the most I could hope for.


I am happy to answer any questions you might have regarding process, ideas or technical details.

The fuller!
-Or whatever it is :-)
That was one of the fun parts with this project and something am going to play with again. Inspiration partly came from Javanese Keris blades that can have wild fullers and groves. During the process of sketching I came across a book: "Iron Ancestors" about the all iron Keris blades of great magical, symbolic and cultural significance that are embodiments of the spirits of the ancestors. These provided a much welcomed new perspective and inspiration for the project. Since this is a sword of the mind, it must express some kind of spirituality. Something intangible in physical form.

The fuller is actually the answer to what goes on in pics 14 and 15: I masked the blade with hockey tape and drew the outline of the fuller with a pen and then cut the tape away along the outline of the design. This is done after heat treating and after the blade has received its final grinding to shape. Only etching and sharpening remains to be done.

The trick with hockey tape was told to me by Louise Backman who is the goldsmith who set the moonstone for me. If (when) you skip with the tool the tape will help stop it in its track across the surface of the blade. At least to some degree and you do want want to minimise this! :-) It is not fool proof, but at makes life a little bit easier for fools.


I use a flexible shaft from a hanging Dremel motor that allows good mobility and access through out windings, twists and turns. When hogging away the material I tried to keep in mind the erosive action of water through soil: how a stream tends to sway rhythmically as it winds its way through a landscape. It was not the intention for the fuller *to be* a river, only to borrow some of that expression. That way, it may also suggest the growth of a seed seeking the light of day as it bursts out from the soil. It also borrows some character of form from lightning. I tried to think about these things when grinding.


When the rough grinding was done the grove was smoothed with a small tubular sanding thingy that fits over a rubber top (don´t know the word in English, sorry).

Fine polish was achieved with a small wheel of rubber that carried fine emery powder. A tool similar to what gold- and silversmiths use.

after this it was not too laborious to do touch up by hand with emery paper. Since the blade was going to be etched rather severely, there was no need for mirror polish. The goal was distinct form and a smooth flow rather than high finish. The edges of the gully/fuller was the most sensitive part: it was easy to round these during final hand sanding. I tried to avoid that, knowing that the final look would depend on the cut looking pretty sharp: this would create a sense of the material having been eroded away.

-Erosion is a process that suggest both growth and decay and that was just along the lines of the theme for this sword.

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Here are some more words from the catalogue:

Into the Forest

From the outset it was a matter of bypassing the well known paths to find a place not visited before. This sword must find a shape that was outside history and recognised types. Making a sword is relating to things that are familiar but often slightly misunderstood. Finding the true shape of a sword may involve exposing the unseen, or unexpected side of things. The sword is such a strong image that it can blind us, making us see only what is widely accepted.

It is a weapon of course and charged with conflicting ideas and ideals. But it is also an archetype: a function of our mind. The old stories show us how it is an unavoidable part of dramatic moments of change: points of no return. In the hands of gods and slaves, heroes and villains it becomes an extension of their personas, the sharp point of their destinies bringing victory and defeat.

A sword of piercing light seemed to me to be the sword that resides in our mind. The part of ourselves that is able to split the gordian knot of confusion and slay the Jabberwocky of fear, snicker-snack. In times of dire need this sword will be presented to us. It is connected to those powers of change that are at work inside the chrysalis and the lightning bolt that tumbles the sky high tower to the ground. We fear those powers and we need them through out our lives, passing from one age to another. A sword offers no promise of survival, but at best a fighting chance and it is the best offer we are going to get.

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Your work and writing are both dizzyingly sharp and precise, but convey a certain playfulness of spirit that is very inspiring to feel and see. I really enjoy seeing some of the sketches and connecting them to where the final piece went, and it is nice to see a glimpse into your creative process! Thanks also for sharing another section of text from the catalogue; I need to get my hands on one!


Like I told you before, this is really humbling and inspiring work, thank you for sharing it with us!

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