[NTLK] o/t blacksmithing

Dale Raby daleraby at gmail.com
Sun May 1 15:41:58 EDT 2011

> But seriously, I suppose that the kind of attitude that recognizes that a a
> gadget design can become "overcooked" and fall prey to a technological
> parallel of the Peter Principle applies to both.  We're here because we
> recognize that the Newton was a high-point in the development of handheld
> computing, and the advances that came with devices like the Blackberry and
> iPhone came at the cost of losing other great features and advantages.  And
> for me at least, that's the same attitude I take to blacksmithing:  there
> are easier and "more advanced" ways to produce metal goods, but you get
> those advantages by giving up other features that come only with smithing.

There is some truth to that.  More and more items, even manufactured
ones, are being made by investment casting.  This is vastly cheaper
than forging, but there are drawbacks that nobody ever thinks about.

The other issue is that once an art form or technology dies, it dies
for good until somebody re-invents it.  Nobody knows just exactly what
Greek fire was, nor have we figured out how the Romans made their
catapults shoot so far.  Dare I say, that when they scrapped the
remaining Saturn V rockets, they also scrapped any chance of
heavy-lift technology that might one day save us from a cosmic
disaster.  Blacksmithing almost died and would have, at least in
America but for the efforts of Alex Bealer (The Art of Blacksmithing,
1959 or so).
>> Mostly I make various kinds of hooks as the average attention span corresponds
>> to the amount of time a modern child watches television before the
>> commercial... ten to fifteen minutes... the time it takes me to make an S
>> hook.  ...
> Have you tried making fire irons?  A whole set of 5 is going to take a fair
> amount of time, but I think you can work more or less within your 15 minute
> limit by doing a single iron -- say, a poker.  We have the fire poker we got
> for my father-in-law (and inherited when he died) and we got it because it
> was part of a smith's demo.  He asked the crowd for a suggestion of a design
> for a poker, and a child asked for a dragon.  He created a very simple,
> stylized dragon:  a dragon's head and neck coiled around to form the handle
> of the poker.  It was very quick.  He gave the child's mom first refusal on
> it, and when she turned it down he put it over by the collection of demo
> items he kept for sale, and we snagged it for Dad because we knew he'd like
> it.

Had to scratch my head a bit... we speak the same language, but not
quite.  We call those items "fire tools" over here in the Colonies.  I
do sometimes make pokers, though to do it right, I have to do some
forge or pressure welding... a dangerous thing to do in front of a
crowd.  Flux and molten metal can splatter for thirty feet around.

I also make kitchen tools, trivets, sausage tongs, skewers, toasting forks, etc.

Time to cut this short, though.  I'm updating my Linux installation to
Fedora 14 with RAID 5 using some drives I got from some old DVR
machines.  If it works, I should have a fairly crash-proof

> Never in a million years could we have gotten such an attractive,
> individual, suitably "quirky" yet functional gift at a price we could afford
> except by getting it from a blacksmith.  He loved it.  As a bonus, when
> someone else saw us buy it, they commissioned the smith to make a full set
> for them in the same design.
> Shalom.
> Christian
> ~~~ ~~~ ~~~
> ³Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from a Newton.²
>            -- ref.:  Arthur C. Clarke
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