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Rare artifact of the kingdom of Norssex, via Gallifrey


Alan Longmire

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A friend of mine who hails from the aforementioned Gallifrey once told me it doesn't pay to muck about with time, despite the fact that he (now she, it's a long story...) does it all the time. 

To that end, I got this item from an alternate timeline in which a breakaway kingdom of Saxons ended up in what we now call Scotland.  We are all familiar with the other Saxon kingdoms, i.e. Essex, Wessex, Sussex, and Middlesex, not to mention Kent, Mercia, and Northumberland.  In this other timeline , there was a more northern kingdom as well, Norssex.  They employed the techniques the other Saxon kingdoms did, but in that other timeline they never went away.  There was no Norman conquest, because King Harald of Wessex didn't have to fight the battle at Stamford Bridge, and as a result was able to beat William at Hastings.

All this mucking about with time seems to have resulted in this blade, which displays an odd combination of form and technique.  Basically, it seems to be in the shape of an 18th century Highland Dirk, but the blade and fittings are pure Saxon from the 6th century in Kent.  If not for the hilt, I'd call it a short broad seax. As part of its unusual journey through time, some parts of it appear far older and beaten-up than other parts.

dirk.jpg

The chape, for instance.  It is needle-sharp at the tip, but somewhat the worse for wear.  The frog has a couple of odd plaques of garnet cloisonné reminiscent of the Staffordshire Hoard.

dirk closer.jpg

The pommel is very interesting, taking the form of a Kentish circular brooch.

dirk pommel.jpg

Together these embellishments are quite striking.

dirk bling.jpg

The hilt itself appears to be ebony, with inexpertly produced carving, probably by an owner rather than the maker.  Pity, it would have been nice to have good carving there.  The blade is where it gets interesting:  It appears to be a composite of three bars of interrupted alternating twists of high-phosphorus and low-phosphorus wrought iron, with a little steel for good measure, plus an edge bar of pure steel that shows a very slight hamon low towards the edge.

dirk unsheathed.jpg

 

dirk alone.jpg

The ferrule/bolster thingy has an integral blade collar similar to a habaki.  The pattern in the blade is subtle, best seen close up.

dirk blade closeup.jpg

Or even closer.

dirk blade super close.jpg

The shiny iron is low phosphorus, the darker is high phosphorus.  The wide bands are actually shiny, but appear dark in this picture because I had to mess with the contrast to bring out the grain.

Overall it's about 14" long, and 1/4" wide at the spine with no distal taper until the tip starts to curve in. 

My time-travelling friend couldn't say much about its origin beyond what I have related above, but I hope you will agree, it is a most interesting artifact.  If you have any questions I'll do my best to answer, but it will just be me, the Doctor (as she is called) is very hard to contact when she (or he, I never know what he or she is going to look like from year to year) is off doing whatever and whenever it is he or she does.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and speculations on this piece regardless.  Thank you for looking.

 

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Yes, the culture responsible for that created a unique ..."fusion" doesn't describe it, perhaps "integration" is a better term, of characteristics . Certainly the deliberate melding of phosphorus levels demonstrates a high knowledge of metallurgy and the purposeful design features, particularly the limiting of the distal taper to its most useful, given the nature of the blade, placement bespeaks the makers knowledge. The maker and the user must have been jusifiably proud of both design and execution. As a symbol, tool, weapon, it stands alone, as far as I know, as the example of the crossroads where "should, could, might have, and If" meet. 

Excellent!

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Hmm, my brain was tired before your tale and has since packed up and gone home so I have nothing left with which to craft a worthy response.  All I can say is Bravo Alan!

-Brian

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Wonderful mix of styles and time frames, I wish I was one tenth the carver of handles ................B)

If ya can't be good don't git caught  !!                                        People who say stuff can't be done need to

                                                                                                        git the hell outta the way of people who do stuff   !!!

Show me a man who is called an expert by his peers         

And I will show you a good man to listen to ......

Show me a man who calls himself an expert

and I will show you an egotistical asshole...............!!

 

                             

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Your friend might be pulling your leg.  I think its origin is from a master craftsman who more than dabbles in history to the point of being able to lecture historians and one day, on a whim, beautifully fused eclectic pieces of the past into a truly unique work of art.

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9 hours ago, Alan Longmire said:

The hilt itself appears to be ebony, with inexpertly produced carving, probably by an owner rather than the maker.  Pity, it would have been nice to have good carving there.  

You had me laughing there Alan :D

I think it looks fantastic.  The whole package is super badass, and the story that goes along with it is great.  Great and gorgeous work Alan!!

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer."  -Albert Camus

http://www.krakenforge.net/

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Thanks, guys!  :D

I wasn't sure how it would go over.  The idea came to me last year of a dirk with the pommel made from garnet cloisonne like a disc brooch, and from there it was obvious the blade had to be interrupted twists.  The blade was originally three inches longer and more of a pointy dirklike shape, but coal forges and inattentiveness don't mix when welding up complicated billets.  I have some WIP pics on it if anyone is interested.

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29 minutes ago, Alan Longmire said:

 I have some WIP pics on it if anyone is interested.

Well, now I know there there are supposedly no 'stupid' questions, but...

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-Brian

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Just remember, you asked for it.  :lol:  Bad cellphone pics, the good camera doesn't go in the shop while I'm working.

It started with a bar of low-P wrought from a tie rod and a bar of high-P wrought from a railing.

20171124_112341.jpg

I turned those into strips 1" wide x 1/4" thick x about 20" long.

20171124_115322.jpg

Cut into 5" long bars and ground clean for welding.

20171124_120539.jpg

Stacked and wired for welding. Low-P, 15N20, high-P, 15N20, low-P.

20171124_120834.jpg

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Welded and drawn into a bar.

20171124_125446.jpg

and drawn into a square rod about 3/8" square by around 32" long.

20171124_143304.jpg

Cut into three rods of appropriate length, tips forged down to points.  This makes the pattern flow up into the tip when the edge bar is added and the bevels are forged, providing you don't do what I did and burn off the last three inches of the edge bar. :unsure:  The soapstone marks are the references for the twists, later marked with a center punch to be able to see it hot.

20171125_124857.jpg

Try to remember high-P wrought iron is both hot-short and cold short, and likes to shear when twisted if it's too hot or too cold.

20171125_131058.jpg

Repeat steps 1-8...

 

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New top bar made, twists complete, wired for welding.

20171125_143245.jpg

Welded.

20171125_150507.jpg

Edge bar forged from 5/8" round Diehl W-2 bought from James Batson years ago.

20171126_112649.jpg

You can see how pointy it was gonna be if I hadn't burned the end off. <_<

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Reforged into a stubbier point, threaded rod tang attached, and ground at 36 grit.  This shot shows the 1/4" thick spine and lack of taper until the tip.

20171203_133154.jpg

From the top.

20171203_133210.jpg

And a closeup of the brazed joint where I threaded the tang.  It was much uglier, this is after grinding clean(ish).

20171203_133258.jpg

Heat-treated and etched.  The auto-hamon shows up well in this pic, as does a little spot that got too hot near the tip.  This was too big for the muffle pipe, so it was done old-school in charcoal.

20171217_113947.jpg

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Now to start the disc brooch pommel.  First make the beaded wire using a beading knife a'la Theophilus, then fabricate the baseplate, edge rim, and cells.  Use a dapping block to make the domed central boss, which sits atop a nut made from 1/8" brass threaded 1/4-20 to match the tang thread.  Solder it all together using all three grades of hard silver jeweler's solder (hard, medium, and E-Z).  Hard for the nut and boss, because I do NOT want them to move during later steps, medium for the perimeter edge and beaded wire, then E-Z for the individual cells.

20180210_120242.jpg

All the flat stock is .020" jeweler's bronze, aka nu-gold, a high-zinc brass. The cells are sheared from sheet, the saw is not accurate enough in my shaky hands.  Now to set the "stones," 1/8" red acrylic.  First make a rubbing of the baseplate and cells, then transfer with carbon paper to the acrylic, which is handily wrapped in paper.  Cut the "stones" out with a jeweler's saw, file to fit, and then make the stamped foils that sit beneath the stones to add some fire in the light.  The foils are stamped from 0.001" bronze shim stock hammered into a die made by engraving a grid measuring about 0.4mm to each square in a plate of mild steel.  Lay the foil on top, put a piece of leather on that, and one hard whack with a hammer does the trick.  Cut the resulting foils with an Exacto knife, lay a base of plaster and sand in the cells, top with foil, and press in the stones, hoping like heck the plaster is dry enough not to get water between the foil and the stone, but wet enough to squish evenly.  When all the cells are filled, burnish down the edges with an agate burnisher to lock it all together.  Pure Anglo-Saxon garnet cloisonné, except it's not gold or garnet.

20180219_140816.jpg

You can see some of the foil at left.  The originals were twice as fine.

20180218_144026.jpg

Checking for fit on the actual dirk:

20180219_140750.jpg

The little holes are to attach it to the hilt with brass tacks.  I drilled them out from the back, and discovered that the sand-plaster substrate is hell on drill bits.  Ruined two 1/16" cobalt bits on that sucker.

That concludes the WIP photos, for better or worse.  Any questions?

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Fantastic craftsmanship,Alan,and all together- one hell of an imaginative,creative project!!!...Beautiful,and far-out....

Good for you,and thanks for showing all the cool processes!

God is in his heaven,and Czar is far away...

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That’s awesome Alan. Love the fusion (both of styles and metal). The garnet thing is on my ever growing to-do list. One thing though. You didn’t mention your friend’s name only his/her title. Doctor who?

"The way we win matters" (Ender Wiggins) Orson Scott Card

 

Nos qui libertate donati nescimus quid constat

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Thanks again, guys!  And Charles, "The Doctor" is the only way I have ever heard him/her referred to.  And don't ask about that damned blue phone booth that keeps squashing my flower beds...

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As someone who as never tried any of that kind of thing I have a question.

How do you tell "high P" from "low P" wrought ?

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Phosphorus makes iron harder, but brittle.  If you have a bar of high-P, hot-cutting at a red heat will make it break off like high carbon steel rather than bend like low-P iron.  It's still fibrous, but will not bend cold without breaking.

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Im jumping into this a bit late. But seriously, beautiful work, Alan. The carving looks awesome, the blade shape and pattern are stunning, and the pommel speaks volumes of craftsmanship all on its own. 

Cool mythos origin as well. 

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well done mate, all the thumbs up for you! cool consept!:D if you are still having troubles with plaster getting between your foil and stone get your plaster( use less than you think you need) in then the foil and then tamp the two in the cell with the stone on a dopstick, take the stone out and then clean any seapage with a matchstick or a pin while its wet or a scraper and a toothbrush when is dry. then set the stone when the plaster is set and dry. this helps to keep the deaded white outline at bay aswell.

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Thanks, and that's a great idea!  I'd worry about cracking a few stones, since I tend to make them a snap fit so minimal burnishing is required, but whenever I next do this I'll give that a go.

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