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      Use your real name or you will NOT get in.  No aliases or nicknames, no numerals in your name. Do not use the words knives, blades, swords, forge, smith (unless that is your name of course) etc. We are all bladesmiths and knifemakers here.  If you feel you need an exception or are having difficulty registering, send a personal email to the forum registrar here.  
Emiliano Carrillo

A Sword Fit For a King

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Hello! 
 
I apologize profusely for the novel that is about to come, I promise I won't be offended if you skip to the pictures ;) 
 
I recently graduated from Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Instead of Freshman, Sophomore, etc, students are divided into Division I, II, and III. The first year you take a broad set of unrelated classes, and throughout your middle two years you hone in on something interesting you want to study. Your last year, Division III, is spent working on a thesis project that should be the culmination of the last three years of work and study, producing something wholly new, wether it is a long paper, an experiment, a novel, a play, etc. 
 
I have spent the last few years at Hampshire exploring bladesmithing, history, mythology, material culture, and how it all intersects now-a-days. When I arrived there I had never put hammer to anvil, but with some guidance from Elias Sideris and Don Dupuis, I began down the Way. Eli’s work was influenced by the Norse aesthetic, drawing from historical sources as well as wellsprings of artistic inspiration both new and old. I began researching, reading, and looking, and through other artists, like Jake Powning and Petr Florianek, I began to fall in love with that style of work. The seax and the sword captivated me and I began working to unravel their secrets and learn the proportions and geometries that make them be.
 
I began to study Old Norse and the Icelandic Sagas and eventually became enchanted with the poem Beowulf. I first read it in high school and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t know anything about the poem below the surface. I began studying with Professor Craig Davis at Smith College who is a wonderful Beowulf scholar and knows the poem and its intricacies forward and backwards. He agreed to take me on in an independent study examining the use of weaponry in the poem. I began by isolating the four swords featured in the poem, and was later happy to see two of them brought to life by our own forumites and the crew of Arctic Fire 2016 when Dave Stephens created Hrunting, the ancestral and possibly fratricidal blade belonging to Unferth and lent to Beowulf for his fight against the mother. Then there is the Giant’s sword, brought to life by the fateful team of Jake Powning and Owen Bush, forged larger than life and more intricately than could  have been imagined previously as a sword only a hero could have wielded. The Third sword is that of Wiglaf, which Dave DelaGardelle is conjuring into existence in his smithy with some steel that I forged for him. (this has been a call out Dave :)) Last but not least is the sword Nægling, an ancestral blade handed down to Beowulf by King Hygelac his forbearer. This is a kingly blade brought up earlier in the poem but used only in the final struggle against the serpent. This blade is an extension of the aged king, and carries the weight of his agency as king and protector. The blade breaks. Made by the hands of men, this heirloom is snapped when it impacts the serpents skull, too hard for normal steel. This is a beautiful moment in the poem for me. Beowulf is painted as the good guy. He has defeated monsters who wanted to destroy and cause harm to his allies. He selflessly defended the people in harms way and proved himself to be a very boastful but trustworthy and powerful man, capable of great deeds. This righteousness ends here. For all of his good intent and earthly power, the serpent IS death. Wyrd comes for all men, and soon the king too must rest. 
 
Having delved deeper into this poem I decided a year and a half ago that I would create this kingly sword as it was before it met fate. I had learned the art of hearth melting from Ilya Alekseyev, Mark Green, Zeb, Deming, and Matt Venier among others. I chose to create steel by the light of the full moon every month for a year, and that was the steel I would use to craft this blade. I created low and high carbon material from wrought iron nails, old projects, failed experiments, artifacts, pieces given to my by friends, iron and steel made by great smiths, like Ric Furrer and Jeff Pringle. I ran a melt at Ashokan, and with the help of some of my closest friends, and some wonderful new ones, I made a special piece of material that forged from a 6 pound lump into a 4 foot long bar with only a single crack in it. I helped run a summer class and taught 10 high schoolers how to run a hearth (or three) and make steel. I made material with friends and teachers and the process became as important as the result. At the end of these 12 months though I had come to the end of the easy part, and now I had to actually make the blade. 
 
The most important question was what would the blade look like? clearly it needed to be beautiful, as a kings sword would have been. It needed to symbolize the story, like the hilt of the Giant’s sword tells the story of the flood and the demise of the giants, this sword would tell the story of Beowulf and his demise. Enter in the sword from Vehmaa. Featured in the end of Pierces book, Swords of the Viking Age, almost as an afterthought, this blade captivated me since I first bought the book months after starting down this path. This incredible blade features different patterns on each side of the blade as well as an overlaid serpent in the top third of one side. The blade is broken in the top third, separating the serpent. This immediately jumped out to me as being a sword Beowulf could have carried, and the broken serpent was almost too perfect a parallel. Only one smith has been foolhardy  brave enough to attempt this blade, and it's none other than my great friend Jesus Hernandez. His incredible creation, and still my favorite sword on this planet can be seen here:  With his incredible example out in front I had to try and give it my best! 
 
I forged the blade, running into minor issues here and there. The blade itself I consider to be a failure, and is a practice piece for next time. the largest thing I had forged from my own steel was a small seax for Matthew Berry who graciously agreed to do a rush job on making a hilt for this crazy project of mine. I had made much of the steel I used for the sword at Matt’s house over the last year and it was fitting to combine our skills to make a sword worthy of the legendary king. So without further ado, I give you Beowulf’s sword! 
 
 
Just kidding ;) WIP first!
 
 
This is a small bit of the material I had made and started to refine for this undertaking. The iron and steel pieces were refined differently with an eye for what would go where in the blade. I had close to 60 pounds of material refined for the blade when I was done prep, just to be on the safe side!
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The billets finished and ready for welding, The leftmost is the edge wrap and the other two are the two sorts of patterned bars found in the sword. 
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I forge welded the serpent bar overtop of the twists on one side of the blade before welding the two sides together. I apologize I don't have many photos of this all as it was a frantic and busy couple of days. 
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The two core pieces next to each other. The original sword had an iron core, but I chose to forgo the added complication. 
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Here the edge is wrapped and welded. It was much harder with home made material than it ever has been for me in modern steel. I'm not sure wether that was due to different expectations in workability or what. The tip weld was nearly the breaking point when I thought I had failed. 
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Some of the pattern peeking through in the scale as I forged the fuller. 
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The original had an iron inlay which was hard to make out. Mikko Moilanen was incredibly generous with his research and has some information on this piece in his dissertation. 
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Skip forward a few crazy minutes and you get to the final moment. The blade was quenched in water and survived! The moon steel sword had hardened nicely. During grinding the blades edges sparked similarly to 1095 or w2 which was a huge surprise as I had never made home made steel that nice before. IMG_6499.jpg
 
 
 
All of you here know the arduous process that is hand polishing. I wish I had ground it perfectly to 400 grit and polished 320 400 and then 600 and called it a day, but I don't use jigs or fixtures or whatever so I relied on free handing the rest of the geometries. This is scary and also not fun. I ground the blade near sharp at 36 grit and left it there, and polished by hand the rest of the way. This was awful, but worth it, because when I was done and left the blade in the ferric I saw something that made the years work worth it. 
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I had finished the blade but any good blade needs a handle! I contacted my friend Matt and asked if he would be willing to make the fittings for the blade. He agreed and I sent him a photo that was included in a huge set of files from the National Museum of Sweden that he had previously sent me. The museum took wonderful photos of the sword from Vallstenarum. This was the hilt I wanted for my sword and so Matt created beautiful waxes based exactly on the original. The hilt is from a burial in Gotland and features a fabricated and rather botched ring assembly that was certainly not original to the sword. 
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Matt began carving and in an unimaginably small amount of time was able to craft all of the parts needed for the sword and cast them. 
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I went over to his house and we began fitting, drilling, filing, polishing, and assembling all of the parts. We did a huge amount of work and then I took most of the grip home to create the wooden components while Matt finished the pommel assembly. 
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I carved the wooden grip and when I came back a few days later, we spent an afternoon finishing the sword. I had crafted a makeshift sheath which turned out to be hugely helpful in letting us hold the sword for finishingIMG_6606.jpg
 
 
I brought the sword home and began finishing the sheath and the small details so that it would be ready for my gallery show. I forgot to mention I also put together a gallery show for my thesis! That was a lot of work. IMG_6631.jpg
 
 
I had a small space that I filled with several swords and photos on the walls, and cases full of work and some artifacts. I'm sure you guys will recognize some of the pieces! I had to do a loooooot of borrowing to have enough to show :)
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I had a case full of some kitchen knives and miscellaneous pieces as well as a belt made with Matt's castings and some artifacts and the pieces they inspired. IMG_6652.jpg
 
 
 
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The center piece! 
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A bit of a story board. A hammer made by Ilya, the one I use for everything along with some parts of the process. 
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Admiring the work!
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The turn out for the show was far greater than I had anticipated, and it was a huge amount of fun to see so many familiar faces all in the same place. 

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Thank you to everyone here who has inspired me to undertake this journeying to the people who made it possible, both with help researching and experimenting and with distractions or encouragement. Now my hands are starting to itch again, time to get busy!

Moonlight Final_2(both moons).jpeg

Edited by Emiliano Carrillo
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I was privileged to  watch, via the internet, this sword come to life!!!  OUTSTANDING job Emiliano and beautiful work!!  I am alway dumbstruck at your artwork knowing the short amount of time you have been at the craft!!  Congrats on your graduation!!  I am so looking forward to watching your future creations come to life!!  Awesome job!!

Edited by JWKiernan

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Holy hell gentlemen, that is outstanding work.  I wish I had bigger pictures so that I could stare at them in envious jealousy.  It is fit for a king.

Congratulations on your graduation Emiliano!  That is something to be proud of.

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This is seriously one of the greatest things I've ever seen. If it were up to me, I would have you write even more about the project and post more pictures! I've been sitting at my computer for like ten minutes now, going back and looking at the pictures, trying to think of something I can say that does this justice. I still can't think of anything... It's moments like these that I wish the English language had some words that are like, the opposite of "bad" words, reserved to describe only the most awesome stuff in the world.

Seriously though, I want an eight foot tall poster of this sword that I can hang up in my room and look at every day.

P.S. I see you're in the business of teaching highschoolers how to run a bloomery operation... I'm still in highschool, if you're picking up what I'm putting down ;)

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Dude.  B)

That is AWESOME!  The whole post, not just the sword.  

I'm actually kind of jealous that was not an option I knew about when I was in college, although it wouldn't have helped me anyway since I didn't even know anything like this ("this" being the current state of bladesmithing in the Fiery Bearded tradition) was even possible!  I remember meeting you in person at Ashokan last year and figuring out quickly that you would be someone to watch, the next generation, as it were.  Well done, and I can't wait to see what you come up with in the future!

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I've been carefully watching all of your postings here on the board and always excited to see a new one, but this one was just out of this world. The time and knowledge that you ahve gathered and worked with to create this is greater than just knowing and doing, it's part of the history itself, and almost a new chapter on the ancient history that we know to be! All that aside, the sword is utterly fantastic and I can't really say anything else... but I would love to see it in person one day and meet you!

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Here's the photo this post needs - the graduating smith and his blade:

IMG_2594.JPG

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Congratulations on the Magnum Opus, my friend! We need a big pic of the polished blade!

That is a hell of an achievement. Sell it to an Arab prince or something. Then make another :) 

 

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That whole piece is totally off the chain!! It's fittings like that which repeatedly remind me to try and learn bronze casting...

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This is not Alan. This is Jesus but I'm at Alan's and I don't remember my login. I just want to say thank you. I am proud to see how far you have come. This blade tells a story. The story of your becoming a bladesmith in your own right. You future is bright. 

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Far from skipping over the story of the journey from the research through to the making of this sword I was captivated in the first few lines and almost held my breath reading through it to see the depth of your study and preperation for this work and then the bringing it all together in such a spectacular example of the master baldesmiths art.

As someone else has said words hardly seem adequate to praise the results of the time you have spent bringing this piece to life.

Edited by Garry Keown

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Awsome sword and great story.

The craft and the learning are the Journey......The focus into these things is a window that looks both Outward and inward....Time travel with a hammer....... You have totally got the past and present , myth and reality wrapped up in steel, and Bronze..

what it is all about. Great Job the both of you I love it.

 

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On 6/9/2017 at 0:13 AM, JWKiernan said:

I was privileged to  watch, via the internet, this sword come to life!!!  OUTSTANDING job Emiliano and beautiful work!!  I am alway dumbstruck at your artwork knowing the short amount of time you have been at the craft!!  Congrats on your graduation!!  I am so looking forward to watching your future creations come to life!!  Awesome job!!

Thank you John :) I appreciate it! Soon hopefully we'll get together and you can see the rest of this stuff in person!

 

On 6/9/2017 at 0:51 AM, Wes Detrick said:

Holy hell gentlemen, that is outstanding work.  I wish I had bigger pictures so that I could stare at them in envious jealousy.  It is fit for a king.

Congratulations on your graduation Emiliano!  That is something to be proud of.

Thanks Wes :) Happy belated birthday by the way! I appreciate it brother! I gotta admit if feels good to be out and able to do other things now. 

 

On 6/9/2017 at 2:05 AM, Collin Miller said:

This is seriously one of the greatest things I've ever seen. If it were up to me, I would have you write even more about the project and post more pictures! I've been sitting at my computer for like ten minutes now, going back and looking at the pictures, trying to think of something I can say that does this justice. I still can't think of anything... It's moments like these that I wish the English language had some words that are like, the opposite of "bad" words, reserved to describe only the most awesome stuff in the world.

Seriously though, I want an eight foot tall poster of this sword that I can hang up in my room and look at every day.

P.S. I see you're in the business of teaching highschoolers how to run a bloomery operation... I'm still in highschool, if you're picking up what I'm putting down ;)

Thank you Collin! I'm afraid an 8 foot version would show too many oops in the piece ;) I had wanted to write more but pictures are important too! I co-teach a summer class every year at Hampshire for highschoolers on bladesmithing with casting and other fabrication stuff involved. Come on over! 

 

On 6/9/2017 at 7:56 AM, Alan Longmire said:

Dude.  B)

That is AWESOME!  The whole post, not just the sword.  

I'm actually kind of jealous that was not an option I knew about when I was in college, although it wouldn't have helped me anyway since I didn't even know anything like this ("this" being the current state of bladesmithing in the Fiery Bearded tradition) was even possible!  I remember meeting you in person at Ashokan last year and figuring out quickly that you would be someone to watch, the next generation, as it were.  Well done, and I can't wait to see what you come up with in the future!

Thanks Alan! Honestly if it weren't for this forum and the internet I wouldn't have been able to expand my understanding of the limits out in front of me as quickly as I did! Three and a half years in I've been exposed to decades worth of information! The Fiery Beard crew was a pretty huge source of inspiration since the beginning for me, it's a pretty wonderful thing to see people pushing the envelope left and right! Thanks you Alan that really means a lot! It was wonderful to finally put a face to the name!

 

On 6/9/2017 at 11:56 AM, Timothy Artymko said:

I've been carefully watching all of your postings here on the board and always excited to see a new one, but this one was just out of this world. The time and knowledge that you ahve gathered and worked with to create this is greater than just knowing and doing, it's part of the history itself, and almost a new chapter on the ancient history that we know to be! All that aside, the sword is utterly fantastic and I can't really say anything else... but I would love to see it in person one day and meet you!

Thank you Timothy! I'm happy to hear you've enjoyed the stuff I've posted so far! That is exactly what I want to do with the work I undertake, I want to be able to connect it with the living history that precedes us and contribute to a new chapter. And of course! Someday our paths will cross and with some planning this guy will be with me :)

 

On 6/9/2017 at 6:06 PM, Kevin (The Professor) said:

Congratulations on the Magnum Opus, my friend! We need a big pic of the polished blade!

That is a hell of an achievement. Sell it to an Arab prince or something. Then make another :) 

 

Thanks Kevin! I'll get around to taking some decent photos soon! It's been a bit of a madhouse here but soon things will calm down some more I hope! Now I gotta find an Arab prince! Any leads? ;)

 

On 6/9/2017 at 7:13 PM, Salem Straub said:

That whole piece is totally off the chain!! It's fittings like that which repeatedly remind me to try and learn bronze casting...

Thanks Salem! That's definitely Matt's wheelhouse! I've done it successfully on my own a few times, but when you work with someone who gets it from a historical standpoint, and is so damn good at it you can't really lose.

 

On 6/9/2017 at 8:49 PM, Alan Longmire said:

This is not Alan. This is Jesus but I'm at Alan's and I don't remember my login. I just want to say thank you. I am proud to see how far you have come. This blade tells a story. The story of your becoming a bladesmith in your own right. You future is bright. 

Thank you Jesus! As a mentor and friend you've been incredibly generous with time and knowledge and I hope to be able to repay that some day! 

 

On 6/10/2017 at 1:29 AM, Garry Keown said:

Far from skipping over the story of the journey from the research through to the making of this sword I was captivated in the first few lines and almost held my breath reading through it to see the depth of your study and preperation for this work and then the bringing it all together in such a spectacular example of the master baldesmiths art.

As someone else has said words hardly seem adequate to praise the results of the time you have spent bringing this piece to life.

Thank you Garry! I am really overjoyed that you and others have enjoyed the work I put forth, and also that the writing wasn't over the top! 

 

19 hours ago, owen bush said:

Awsome sword and great story.

The craft and the learning are the Journey......The focus into these things is a window that looks both Outward and inward....Time travel with a hammer....... You have totally got the past and present , myth and reality wrapped up in steel, and Bronze..

what it is all about. Great Job the both of you I love it.

 

Thanks Owen! I really like time travel with a hammer, there is definitely a connection you find with the work and the history when you approach it with an open mind and a willingness to take in and learn. The work you and the rest have done with Arctic Fire and the rest of the work you do has been a huge inspiration in completing this project and others. :) 

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I'm late to this party, however great work. Inspiring. 

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Magnificent work my friend!  Hats off to Matthew also.  You have done that sword justice, and I look forward to seeing how you top this one...:)

Edited by GEzell

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I just keep coming back to this post every day since you posted it to marvel so, though my praise may not be as mighty as some of the others around here, let me add it none the less. Congratulations, well done and thank you.

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I have been off the grid (and so off the forum) for about two weeks now and this is a wonderful welcome back!

Absolutely magnificent work both of you. Congratulations on graduation and the start of many great things to come. Anyone who skipped the "novel" and jumped to the pictures missed out big time. 

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Wow. I disappear for a little bit and things like this show up on the page, Holy smokes. That a truly impressive piece, congratulations on your work and graduation.

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Thank you everyone! 

It is really wonderful to see that fellow bladesmiths are enjoying the work!

 

On 6/11/2017 at 9:28 PM, Chris C-S said:

I'm late to this party, however great work. Inspiring. 

Thank you Chris!

 

On 6/12/2017 at 3:10 PM, GEzell said:

Magnificent work my friend!  Hats off to Matthew also.  You have done that sword justice, and I look forward to seeing how you top this one...:)

Thank you George :) I think we make a pretty good team huh? No pressure now! I think I'll take a bit of time before getting back to making a home made steel sword like this again! 

 

On 6/12/2017 at 3:23 PM, Charles du Preez said:

I just keep coming back to this post every day since you posted it to marvel so, though my praise may not be as mighty as some of the others around here, let me add it none the less. Congratulations, well done and thank you.

Thank you! I wish I had more photos of the making to share, or even some video, but everything came together in a whirlwind which made it pretty impossible to capture more of it in photos. 

 

On 6/13/2017 at 5:27 AM, Petr Florianek said:

Wow!
incredible work! great sword and great post!

Thanks Petr! :D I am happy you like it! 

 

On 6/14/2017 at 0:52 AM, Joshua States said:

I have been off the grid (and so off the forum) for about two weeks now and this is a wonderful welcome back!

Absolutely magnificent work both of you. Congratulations on graduation and the start of many great things to come. Anyone who skipped the "novel" and jumped to the pictures missed out big time. 

Thanks Joshua :) I'm really happy you like it! I think of this as a pretty big raising of the bar for both my own and Matt's work, and as a collaborative piece it showcases what we both do really well! 

26 minutes ago, Tim Tracey said:

Wow. I disappear for a little bit and things like this show up on the page, Holy smokes. That a truly impressive piece, congratulations on your work and graduation.

Thanks Tim! It is nice to have it done and be able to just look and see it as an object! 

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Emiliano This is world-class stuff! Awesome accomplishment. What are you gonna do with the sword?

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