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The light of the North. An Owen bush/ Petr Florianek collaboration on a mythical Norse sword


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I am fortunate enough to be fulfilling a childhood (who am i kidding, lifelong) dream. I am having a sword made for me by some truly talented craftsmen. They don't need much introduction to anyone immersed in the world of bladesmithing, and i'm not going to try and speak for them. if you are lucky they might say a little here and there about this project themselves. ;)

Owen Bush I know because i took two courses at his most excellent school of bladesmithing in east london. I was already mulling this project over before i met him but i hadnt decided on the details or on who i wanted to make it. I only knew that i needed someone very familiar with historical pattern welding techniques and patterns, and someone with a passion and love for history and a little of the fantasy edge. We spent about an hour during my week long pattern welded seax class discussing the correct length of seax for killing various types of Troll in various situations. (the conclusion was my seax was correctly sized and designed for new-borns, sleeping, with parents out gathering villagers for food). After that week, i knew i had found the right man for the job. i think owen has a little of that Norse dwarven-smith blood in his veins. who better to forge a mythical Norse Sword?

Petr Florianek i know only from his work and reputation. Owen was adamant, if i wanted a superbly fitted out and decorated blade from him, Petr was the man to share the project with. I have looked at what examples of his work i can find, and i cannot dissagree! Petr makes some absolutely gorgeous swords, he has a longstanding history of collaboration with Owen to produce some wonderful historical and fantasy blades. he is just finishing one at the moment and it is stunning. check it out on his instagram: gullinbursti_pf

So, a little about the project. This isn't just any reproduction viking sword. This is a sword with a song to sing, a story to tell, a name and a 'history'. As well as being a new amateur bladesmith (you can find some of my work gumming up the 'show and tell' thread) I am also a part time author. I have been planning a series of historical fiction, based in an alternate reality of the viking age, for some time. I won't go into the books or the story too much here, this is a bladesmithing forum after all, but i will tell a little of the story of the sword, probably bit by bit as it is being made. we shall see. 

The sword is named 'The Light of the North'. It is a bright blade, made for dark times. The sword is carefully designed to tell the story of the time is was made, the features, pattern in the steel, the guard, the hilt, all play their part in telling that story. how it does this will be explained as we go along. This sword was made (so the saga says) by a famous smith fighting for the Northmen against invading forces from mainland Europe. with his world being destroyed he makes one final blade and then casts his hammer down, swearing never to make another until the north is freed again. His masterpiece, his final blade, will come to be a symbol of his people and a talisman in the resistance against the foreign foes. the legend says that as long as the sword is wielded by a loyal Northman, their people have a future.

So, this is no ordinary sword. I will be exploring a little more of the 'history' of this blade and the meaning of its design as the project slowly moves forwards. 

Owen started some test pieces for the blade this week so I am getting my first excited look at some of the patterns that might end up in the blade. its like being a child at Christmas I can tell you.

What are those patterns for and what do they represent? what materials will be used? how will they be assembled? Stay tuned for the answers... or for pretty pictures of a superb sword being made, whichever interests you!

 

 

Edited by James Simonds
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Same here! Watching intently. I dont use IG unfortunately. 

Looks like a saw tooth of 15n20 and 1080 (just a guess) welded together and then hot cut down the middle, and rewelded... I like the effect!

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This is gonna be good, I’ve been following Owen on Instagram for a while, he is truly a master of this trade.   Someday I hope to have him forge me some sort of Seax.   

But that’s well out of my spending ability’s for a while. 

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4 hours ago, Conner Michaux said:

This is gonna be good, I’ve been following Owen on Instagram for a while, he is truly a master of this trade.   Someday I hope to have him forge me some sort of Seax.   

But that’s well out of my spending ability’s for a while. 

bwUF0vu.jpg

here is the one i made at his class. a really worthwhile expenditure i assure you! it was partly for fun, partly as research for my books. if i am writing about a bladesmith i thought i should know about it first hand. makes writing about Norse smithing a lot easier when you have hand made some pattern welded steel yourself. very happy with my desk ornament i am too.

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Feathered wolf tooth, interesting...  I'm gonna guess it represents the tangled swirls of the duality of light and dark the protagonist(s) are struggling with.  Just going out on the obvious limb...and you didn't tell me Petr was involved!  He is definitely the guy for mythic-level fittings.

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  • 3 months later...

Its been a while, but its update time!

The materials for the sword were selected and forged/cut/mashed with a hammer by @owen bush. The sword is a 3 bar construction. a central core of mixed bloomery iron, meteoric iron and wrought iron to form a soft core with a bright etch finish. 

Here are the materials that are going into the core:

 Core materials.png

The meteorite is the shiny bits, the bloom at the top and the red is the wrought iron.

So that is the core. Then a bar of flame pattern wrapped around that core, Owen has been experimenting with some flame pattern, then the edge is formed from a bar of random pattern wrapped around that. This is a test blade he made using that combination of bars, single edged not wrapped.

One of the really cool things about this blade so far is the number of elements going into it. the core using meteoritic iron mixed with bloomery iron Owen smelted himself is very cool. it will have so much subtle figure in it i imagine.

This week, Owen is putting it all together into the blade blank. he is using high precision, craftsmanship, 20 years of experience. Nah, he is bashing it against the side of a powerhammer. whatever works!

 

So you can see here the sword's 3 bars are all being welded together. not long now until there is a blade blank to look at and some time after that a ground blade, ready for the master @Petr Florianek to furnish, doing the finish, hilt and scabbard and some other cool details i will hold back for now.

Very exciting stuff. Its all i can do not to hop in the car and drive down to the forge and watch. but Owen made me promise not to do that...........

 

 

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21 minutes ago, James Simonds said:

This week, Owen is putting it all together into the blade blank. he is using high precision, craftsmanship, 20 years of experience. Nah, he is bashing it against the side of a powerhammer. whatever works!

That's actually the best way to set the tip weld on a full wrap.  ;)  

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1 hour ago, James Simonds said:

Its just quite amusing to see a man stab a power hammer with a glowing sword.

Yes.  Yes it is. B)  Personally, I stab my swage block, but to each his own!

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Ive got my login for posting piccies from Flickr back so will update my progress..lots of picciees and vids taken so lots of stuff to post.....but not for a week or so!!!

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  • 5 months later...
Posted (edited)

Right, time for an update. i know its been 4 months, but things move slowly in the making a mastercraft Norse sword world. slow is good, it means its being done right!

 

@owen bush finished the forging of the blade late last year, and did a marvelous job. the blade looks superb. see his instagram for more, but here are some snaps.

 

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So the construction of the blade is revealed. at the core, layered wrought, bloomery and meteorite iron forming this subtle 3 colour pinstripe effect on an overall bright, light heart. This is the light of the north, the bright heart of a fallen star trapped in the blade. beautiful interpretation by Owen. then there is a wrapped bar of firestorm pattern around the core. the flames sprouting from the core and fanning out towards the edge. the edge is a bar of dark and twisted random pattern, a bit chaotic and swirling, symbolising the smoke from the fire around the core swirling around the edge. 

 

When the forging of the blade was complete, it was over to @Petr Florianek for the hilt, fittings, scabbard and the inlaid name in the blade. after much much back and forth about the translation, we settled on Ljós ór Norðan as the Old Norse name. its not an exact translation as there is no definative 'correct' answer and we had about 6 options, but we like it.

 

Petr's brief was left largely open to his interpretation (he is the master artist, not me!) but i asked for a pommel with a depiction of the doors of Valhöll, and a crossguard in the late Norse style with ruinc inscriptions and something of his choice. The hilt and scabbard are left to him except for one detail, which i shall not share yet.

So Petr first carved the shape for the crossguard and pommel, which i loved, no changes needed there!

 

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And then, last month, the carvings and casting was done. this was my first look. here, Odin stands in the open doors of the great hall of Valhöll, welcoming the warrior to his final home. this carving is so cool, so much better than what i had in mind, which is why i leave him freedom with the details! then the ruinc crossguard, which i forget what it says.... but it looks amazing the way the runes are fitted to the shape.

 

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On the reverse, twisted serpents writhe in the bronze, beautiful work.

 

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And now, just last week, the name of the sword was carved into the heart of the blade.

 

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So more of the meaning of this mythical blade is now revealed. The bright core, the light of the north, being eaten away by flames, shrouded in smoke. Then, the depiction of Odin on the pommel, standing there silent, waiting to greet the bearer of the blade, reminding him of his inevitable fate, always watching him with his one eye. this is a sword for a hero in dark times.

 

 

The sword itself nears completion, and then there will be the scabbard and the big reveal. childishly excited about it.

 

Edited by James Simonds
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I think I just sucked all the air out of my room!  :o  That's going to be a beautiful collaboration, James.

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Amazing work....if I was a sword collector I would definitely want that in my collection

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Words fail me. I saw the blade runes on FB. Glorious work gents.

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