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Seax in progress (long in the making!)


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Dear fellow keepers of the flame,

 

One of the projects on my bench is a seax that has been very long in the making. The blade was forged many years ago and has been sleeping undisturbed for a long while. When Owen organised his "Axe and Seax" event the other year I decided to bring along this seax to have something to show. It never made it, as I as distracted and could not finish it in time.
Now I have set about to finally completing it. Between other projects over the past few weeks I have been working on its hilt.
Attached are some photos of what it currently looks like.

The grip is from a rib bone of a deceased spices of sea cow with fittings of tin bronze ( a lovely warm and slightly pink color!).
The leather scabbard is already done and decorated and now awaits bronze fittings. More pics to follow.

Hope you enjoy!

 

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Magnificent... The cross-section of the handle, the shape of the blade, the wonderful materials... I acquired a small piece of stellar sea cow bone many moons ago, it is such a unique material, I would love to acquire an entire skeleton (or at least an entire ribcage), I would use nothing else for handles.

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Peter, that is a beautiful piece of work! Is that a guard/spacer combo or a ferrule? Whatever it is, it looks great. Love the discreet carving on the handle and the butt cap/lanyard ring is waaaaaay cool too.

 

 

What a beauty! If you didn't already have a fiery beard you'd certainly get one for this! Well worth the wait. B)

I know I don't have the ability to second that, but somebody smoke this guy's chin!

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I love this so much Peter, every time I see your work it just seems like a perfect balance where everything has beautiful proportion and harmony. Can't wait to see the sheath.

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Alan: thank you! I am happy and proud of my smouldering chin growth. :-)

Caleb & George: Yes, isn´t it a great material. It adds to the character of the piece in a nice way, I think.

Joshua: Thank you for kind words :-) The bronze piece at the front of the grip is a ferrule. It is shaped from 2 mm tin bronze sheet, soldered and file worked.

Colin: I am happy to hear that you think so. The effect and expression of proportions is something I find very fascinating.

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Lovely work, Peter. Nice aim with the punch! ;)

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Lovely seax Peter! Great proportions, and that bronze alloy goes very well with the sea cow bone (fossilized sea cow and dugong rib bones are common locally and I have considered using them with knife fittings, they are dark grey to black however and very dense and heavy)

 

Please tell us a little about the materials used in the blade and its construction. I like the twist pattern in the spine with the wavy straight layers in the middle giving way to a "pool and eye' effect in the edge section.

 

Also, since careful measuring was needed, when you are designing the elements on a hilt, in this case the width of the bolster, the width and placing of the section line carvings on the bone and the size and shape of the butt piece and ring, do you use any of the golden rule proportions?

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Guy, thank you :-)

There is some suggestion that whole number ratios were used to determine the proportion between blade and hilt on seaxes. -At least sometimes, it seems.
Marquita Volkens has done research on meadievalknives and scabbards and also looked at some seaxes and has observed that whole numer ratios were the basis for their proportions.
According to her observations it also seems that prime numbers were often used.

With this in mind I used 5:9 in proportion between blade and hilt. Roughly half the module is used to mark of each end of the grip (file work at the butt end + end plat & ferrule at the front end). The ridges that mark the length of the grip are set to correspond to the width of a finger, more or less.
I have not made this to any great exactness of dimension (you will not find an exact millimeter correspondence) but it sort of works anyway since it gives the eye a pattern to latch onto. We tend to read reality around us in this way subconsciously. We find pleasure and satisfaction when our eyes can trace structure and rhythm in the tings around us. Therefore the simple principles of modular elements are useful design tools.

 

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Thank you Peter! I have to say that you have given me much to think about in terms of construction and proportion when applied to bladed tools and weapons. This could make some design decisions that I've been on the fence about much easier!

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Wonderful work Peter! The subtle carving of the handle is really beautiful as is the bolster and end cap! The tin bronze is a wonderfully bright and warm color, a great choice for this project. And the blade! The edge bar looks like bloom or hearth steel, very very attractive steel you've made!

 

I am glad to see this work and even more glad you finally finished it :D

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Peter - that is a lovely seax. It was nice to see the proportions drawn out. The overall picture was one of subtle complexity hidden within a vicious weapon and useful tool. Pretty much the ideal for me.

(or maybe it is the other way around that is ideal for me, a vicious weapon hidden beneath a façade of subtle complexity... that works better for people as well as objects).

 

Perceiving this, without the knowledge that came later regarding the modularity, I had a subject experience similar to what happens when I look at Jim Kelso's carving, or when I look at Don Fogg's knives. Or Bizen period swords.

 

Seriously, not just blowing smoke. I think you are on to a good idea by extending modular principles to the seax. Even IF it wasn't done in history, it gives very good results.

 

I spent part of yesterday working with a friend (Ricky, he is a forumite, too) - we were casting our own bronze. It has a great character.

 

Thanks for sharing this with us. Best

kc

Edited by Kevin (The Professor)
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Such a beautiful craftmanship.

 

I can't wait to see the scabbard as well!

 

Thank you for the proportion reference! Such a useful tool!

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Isn't it funny the way the eye appreciates the planned layout in a way that makes one's head turn and eyes pop open?

I guess I should have guessed that Peter would have laid this knife out based on set proportions and the circle metric, but it never occurred to me to assume that. I just looked at that knife and said "Wowsa! That looks fantastic." Now, I look at the layout drawing with the circles and a light bulb turns on inside my little pea-brain.

Thanks for the arrow!

5:9 Huh. Who would have guessed? I have to remember that. No, I'm over 50. I have to write that down!

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Use of whole number ratios in planning craft, art and architecture is something that has ancient roots.

It would have been part of the toolkit for artisans from very early times. To what degree, in what way and how commonly this was done naturally varies. It is not an unbroken line of tradition.

Perhaps it is better understood as a great tangled bush of ideas in the back of the mind of countless of creators though out history.

We can benefit from looking at this heritage of ideas and let ourselves be inspired to find new uses of these ideas.

A way to structure thoughts and spark new ideas.

 

It is fun and it works!

 

There is a great book on the subject on modular units in design: By Hand & Eye

https://www.byhandandeye.com/books/

 

Modular construction in the classical orders of architecture:

 

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Beautiful work.

And thank you for linking that book; I think I need to read it, and do more research on the subject generally. My only prior exposure to the idea of using mathematics in design was Disney's "Donald in Math-Magic Land," which, while surprisingly informative, is necessarily limited by its use of a cartoon duck to explain complex ideas to kids.

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