Saturday, January 22, 2011

No, of course this does not qualify as playing with fire!

You know, I talk to a lot of people at craft fairs. 
I get the know-it-alls who have never smithed a day in their life but "know" every technique that was ever invented.

I get the kind old men who say "I remember 50 years ago when I used to turn the blower for my dad."
(At the Museum  of Appalachia last October, I had one old man come up to me and ask, "can I just turn your blower for you for a while?" That was a first! I let him, and he had a great time and I gave him the piece we made afterwards!" One bright memory from an otherwise torcherous weekend!!!)

I get the know-it-alls who cuss me out in front of everyone else because I didn't do something the way they "know" it is supposed to be done. YES that HAS happened!

I get the girls that.....ok were not even going there!

I get the young guys who think "that is soooooo awsome dude."

And I could go on forever! Regardless, while I am talking to my audience and potential customers, I get a very common question, "how did you get started smithing?" "What got you interested in this?" I even got a "Do your parents MAKE you do this?"

My initial reply is, "I get to play with fire and hot metal.....that's what every young guy wants to do!"

I have always taken a deep interest in fire. I started with a small brick, outside fireplace. I didn't have mortar, so I just pieced it all together. It was about 2 feet deep, 18 inches wide, and 18 inches tall. I spent countless hours burning wood in that thing. I studied how the fire worked, what made it get hotter, and what made it cool off. I learned about fire through first-hand experiments and observations.
Since then, I have learned how to burn charcoal, coal, and....other things. (Things like rotten trees that are 40 foot tall, in the woods....but like the "girls" subject, were not going there either! Some things you'd just rather forget that they ever happened!) 
I've even made short fuses to blow up little piles of black gunpowder with!

In case you don't get the point!

I          LIKE           FIRE!!!

OK, so what!

So, one of the things I've always wondered how to make is torches. Waaaaaayyy back in the day, before we had electric lights, before they had lanterns and lamps, they had TORCHES!
Basically a stick with something on the end that burned! I've wondered many times what that something was.

The other day I was in my "fire labratory" (I.E. my blacksmith shop,) and I noticed an old cotton shirt that I have been using for a couple years to wipe excess beeswax off of metal products. As a result of this operation, the shirt has a large amount of beeswax melted into the fabric.

A light ulb suddenly flickered above me. Well, actually it was an idea I was having, but sometimes the light bulbs do flicker!

I looked around quickly for the wooden hammer handle I'd driven out of a hammer head, early in the day. Spotting it, I grabbed it, ripped the shirt sleeve off of the cotton shirt, and wrapped it very firmly around the end of the hammer handle. I needed something else! What was it? Cotton only smolders! Cotton soaked in beeswax burns, but burns quickly! I needed something that would burn longer!

Ahhh the very thing for the "mad scientist!" An old roasting pan full of used motor oil. Ok so now my readers are about to go insane!
MOTOR OIL!!!???!!!???


I took the lid off of the roasting pan and plunged my torch-in-the-making down into the motor oil and let it soak for a minute.
Now I seriously doubt that the knights of days gone by, used to run down to the oil change station and get a bucket of motor oil for torch dipping, but it would pass muster for me!

Considering my torch sufficiently soaked, I took it over to the forge where the day's fire was still hot, flicked on the blower to get some extra heat, and placed the torch head, over the flame. It sputtered and popped until the excess oil was dripped/burned off, and then the oil-soaked rag, burst into flame! Seeing that it was dark out, I turned the shop lights out, and headed up the driveway with the evidence of my triumph. AKA about a one foot long wooden handle with an oil-soaked rag on the end with about a one foot flame burning brightly on the end. Those things put out a lot of light.......wonder why they quit using them!

"Ohhh well there went great-great-great-great-great-grandaddy's castle Sir Edward.....blasted torches!"

Oh ok, that's why!

Seriously though..........alright, alright, I admit it, there is nothing serious about this!

"Pictures?," you cry?

Well here are pictures.....not of try number one, no! Nor of try number two! This is try number THREE!

The pictures are self explanitory!

No, of course we are not sword fighting with torches.....c'mon!


1 comment:

amateur blacksmith said...

You make it sound like to much fun. And you were sowerd fighting wernt you.