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Christopher Price

Knifemaker Interview Series, a biography workshop

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Skip, avoiding P by just choosing the ore with less Phosphorus content, visible by color.

Putting the iron in a furnace a second time will also lower the P content while C will rise.
This also works in a forge, but then you'll have to pull it up several times.

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So now the weekend is over Jens Jørgen Olesen will have time to join the interview:

 

Jens, although I'm very curious about your action with steel last weekend, my first question here is:

Be so kind to tell us a bit about your self and how you came to your iron journey into the past.

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Thijs,

 

Thanks for the reply, sorry I missed seeing it earlier. We did speak in Eindhoven, I was doing a house swap with some Dutch relatives and found the Eindhoven event on their computer just a day or so before it was due to happen..what a wonderful experience. Frankly, I am at the other end of this bloomery phenomenon the ore I use is so pure ( too clean) that it's beauty becomes a problem, and I tend to rely heavily on light weight modern materials . I have to be careful not to re-oxidize the iron made as it lands at the bottom of the furnace , there has to be lots of room for the bloom to form low and there has to be charcoal covering the bloom ,or I get an iron oxide slag. The idea of not constantly having to monitor a smelt fascinates me, I am hoping to make at an almost self regulating event with an occasional addition of materials.

Look forwards to seeing you again at such an event or should you come out this way.

 

Jan

Edited by Jan Ysselstein

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Thanks Thijs, for letting me be the next "victim" in this interview series; I'm very flattered about it, and fell a bit nervous if my history and knowledge can be good enough to all the great craftsmen and artists reading this!

But lets give it a chance!

My first meting with forging and knife making was in 1992, when I was with no job for a period, I got the opportunity to go to local folk high school, in the town were I live for 3 months, at that tie one of the teachers was newly involved in blacksmithing, and started to teach in blacksmithing, in a new build blacksmiths shop at the school, and I got from the very first day a big interest in hot iron and knife making. My teacher and friend asked me to join a curse with a well-known blacksmith Thomas Nørgård, and the meting with him and the historical context he was putting forging and knife making into, was the last step to make me sold to all this.

Thomas Nørgård was in a real good contact with many museum in Denmark and did a lot of reconstruction's and replicas' for the museums, and was allowed to see many of the items in the collections, and used the best of what these different types of knifes, in the production of his own series of knifes. All the knifes Thomas Nørgård did was inspired from Iron ages and Viking ages find from Denmark. I followed more of he's curses during the next years, axe forging for instance.

At that time I used to work in the forest, but after the curse at the high school, I got employed to work at the local museum at a big excavation of a big iron age settlement, a very interesting work and very usefully when I in 2000 was employed at the museum again, but not with excavations, but in a in Heltborg were the Museum years before build a iron age farm, and were I since the start was a volunteer, in the blacksmithing and ironsmelting each summer since 1994.

All the time since 1992 we used the smithy at school, in weekends and one evening each week, together with friends from the school and the museum. We build a new forge there, with 12 forges and anvils, and after some times a power hammer, that summer were Bo Helgeson, famous blacksmith from Sweden gave a class in pattern welding, this year and year after. Bo Helgeson is a very skilled blacksmith, and a very nice person to, and he was as Thomas Nørgård, very good in heat-treating of steel, and from these 2 experts I learned a lot, about this important part of knife making. Bo Helgeson have baseline in the Scandinavian knife tradition, a still living tradition in Norway, Sweden, and Finland more or less. In Denmark there was no tradition left, when the interest of making your own knife started in late 80s.

So when Danish Knife association there was a lot of talking about to find the Danish type of knifes, and Thomas Nørgård was argued that, the historical types that he worked with, to be the guideline for the Danish way.

 

More to later!

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I supported Thomas Nørgård to let the historical knives be the guideline, in a new Danish knife tradition, but I think only a few have gone in that direction: Many have taken the Skandia tradition and some is looking to USA, and do a lot of knifes the US way.

I still find a lot of inspiration in historical knifes from iron ages and a bit from Viking ages!

 

Trough my work at Heltborg Museum, I was involved in iron making in bloomery furnaces, and I got the opportunity to work a lot with this, and during time I have been involved in smelting events in Norway, Holland were I meth you Thijs! Sweden and most of all in Poland, were I have been in four different museums to show how I make iron and help my friends there in getting the process work.

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This paper and the knifes is by Thomas Nørgård, my old blacksmith teacher and historical knife maker! I Think he used this paper at all the courses he held during at least 20 years of teaching blacksmithing!

Thomas Nørgård knive.png

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This knife is a replica of a knife found in my neighbourhood, in a burnt down iron age house! The original was found close to the fireplace, and was almost with no doubt a kitchen knife; this way to handle a knife is not know in many places, and in Denmark almost only North of the Limfjord, in Northern Jutland in a short period of iron ages just around 100BC-100AD

The blade is 28cm.

DSC04049.JPG

Edited by jensjrgenolesen

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I can vividly remember, that moment overnight in Eversham, all furnace masters sleeping, only our two discontinuous furnaces, we loaded every two hours, still running when you and your "servant" came to lie on the sheepskins along our furnace: I got a déjà vu feeling, as I had long ceased it, I think you had the same experience:


What do you think, was connecting us then Jens, do you have an explanation for that ?

Must say I got the same feeling a bit at seeing your knife from last weekend . . . .

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I remember that night to, one of my best memories, from that smeltparty in Eindhoven! Something like finding your long lost twin or brother! And I told you, that You were lost in the swamp, when the Teutonic and Cimbrian tripe's spread fear and horror around in Europe 120 BC: Thy were I live is according to the legend that Teutonia were the Teutonic tribes lived before they started the migration down in EU.

And I still believe that's the story about you and me!

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Must be a kind of genetic memory . . . .

Got the same vibes about 30 years ago as Reinhard Rubenkamp made me forge the tools he intended to use building a pre Christian farmhouse in Eindhoven: the Prehistoric House.

I enjoyed forging the chisels and, coiling the sockets, it felt like coming home, as if I was doing it for hundreds of years, while I never made one.

Now the knife, you and your syndicate were experimenting in 3 different ways lately, as I understood made from bog ore iron, how did you finally managed to get Carbon in it ?

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Yes, that knife is a bit special, cooperating with our smelting group, "Jysk Jærn Syndikat" Jutland Iron Syndicate, and after this weekend Jutland Iron and Steel Syndicate. The name, - with a twinkle in the eye, referring to the name of one of the first books about ancient ironsmelting in Denmark, named "Jysk Jærn" by Rasmus Mortensen.

The iron was made in my barn some months ago all of us together from bog ore, and Michael Nissen forged some of that bloom into a bar, and brought the bar to my smithy last weekend, and Michael, Mads Jylov, and Tom Kaeseler, made it into steel by the Evenstad metode! and I forged the knife afterwards!

Michae Nissen and I was introduced to steel making in 2008 by Darrell Markewitz, when he attended the Iron seminar at Heltborg Museum, hosted by me, he told about the experiments Skip Wiliams and some more did that year with the Aristotle's furnace at Smeltfest in Williamsburg I think? After that time I did some small experiments following what Ole Evenstad wrote. All this is well described by Lee Sauder and Mark Green.

I will upload some pictures later of the process, but this is what I have tie for today!

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i have now read everything in this topic carefully, going slowly and only reading when i needed some inspiration. and i must say that this is the best tread i have ever read on a forumthere is just so much filosophy insight and raw knowledge to be found here thatit is hard to believe.

 

i also only now realise that thijsvan de manakker lives about five miles away from me and i had never seen his work before.

as i found out now he does fantastic work and also seems an inspirational person.

 

 

please continue with this amazing thread, may it never end :D

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Thijs, Jens !

 

Wow, Jens was next on my 'short list' of people I thought to approach for an interview.

 

One of the huge advantages you makers in Europe have is to not only see the 'every day' artifacts in smaller museums, but often to get into those back rooms and see the less fancy pieces that never go on display. We here in North America often get a distorted view of historic blades, from seeing very few photographs of only the very most elaborate (and high status) objects. I was extremely happy to see so many small, really more typical, Viking Age tool knives when I was in Denmark on that 2008 trip to Heltborg.

 

I think many here would love to hear your comments on these less fancy kind of blades. The replica you showed yesterday is an ideal example of that - still a wonderful looking finished piece, but obviously intended to be a working tool.

 

Could you share some of your favourite historic blades - ones us NA blademakers have not ever seen?

 

(fellow smelt-head) Darrell

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Darrell; Your right we have a lot of advantages living in the old world, a lot of founds in museums, and some of us is so lucky working at museums and can have the items in hands, but I don't have a lot of pictures from my museum, and we don't have a lots of knifes, but some nice ones, and I need some time to take some photos, so if you have some patience I will find some nice items to show up. maybe in next week or so.

So until then I will put up pictures from the steel making last weekend and some of my knifes!

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I love these socketed handles, do you have more information or photos of the originals you based them on?

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Jens, Thijs,

 

This is wonderful..refreshing.

 

Jan

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Pieter Paul, Darrell : The world gets smaller every day .


What strikes me Jens, you already told me before, we have both about the same power spring hammer !





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No Thijs, no one of the originals I have seen is welded, and not even closed, its not a socket at the originals! only lobes or lap!

But some of my replicas is more socketed than the originals!

P1000145.JPG

P1000147.JPG

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