Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Time Tradition

To you it may seem like a strange Christmas tradition but for these guys getting together to forge metal for a day is a real treat. And so it goes year after year that they come to our house right around Christmas time to spend a day sharing knowledge and doing what they all love -- forging knives. Each of these men has there own style and types of knives they prefer to make. My husband likes everything from building hunting knives to fancy art pieces. He is unlike most makers in that he does a very diverse variety of styles.

There were no knives completed yesterday. It takes too much time. So I'll show you a few of the knives my husband has built the last few years so you get an idea why these gentlemen have become so engrossed in knife making.

No, this folder is hardly your common every day knife and I wish the photo was crisper. I had to take a photo of a photo due to technical problems with our computer. (In fact this blog was written and though I saved it. It was lost into cyberspace.) It needs to see the doctor just like me and I hope to get it in to our computer guy next week as my husband's web-site with a blog of his own is not up and running well due to the glitch.

This is what we call a theme knife as the whole piece revolves around buffalo. Notice the bold pattern on the blade with the boomerang shaped pattern to reflect a buffalo's horns and the rope file work along the back bar and blade picking up once more this shape. The handle is made of a water buffalo horn and the scrimshaw of a cape buffalo coming out of the mist is by Lori Ristinen. The engraving on the bolster is by Darren Reeves. And though other artisans embellished the knife, all but the screws were precision built by Kirk. His folders open and shut like smooth metal gliding over a soft buttery surface and his fit and finish amazes me.

This knife like all of Kirk's custom pieces began in his shop where you can see the flames spewing from the forge and Kirk's hammer pounding the glowing hot metal in the same manner as the blacksmiths, centuries ago.

The results are incredibly beautiful. I wish you could see the intricate herringbone pattern on this blade called Turkish Damascus. It was made by layering two types of metals - one high carbon and the other a lower carbon steel. These layers are heated, drawn out by pounding, and folded back onto themselves until there was approximately one hundred and fifty layers of metal. This hot bar was then tightly twisted. In this manner four bars were created with alternating twists - right, left, right, left -, surfaced ground for precision fitting, and then placed side by side and forged together into a blade. Hundred of errors can occur in this process, any of which would demote the blade to the trash bin. It never ceases to amaze me how few blades ever end up there. I guess that is partly why Kirk holds the rank of Mastersmith.

This theme knife we call the Don't Fence Me In - bowie and the blade started out as metal cut outs of cowboys on bucking horse stacked in a four inch metal tube and surrounded by powdered metal. It is forged down into a one inch solid metal tube. Then a barbwire looking strip was created and encases the cowboys. This knife which is made up of at least sixteen pieces not counting the screws, won the metal category of a prestigious western art show. Note the handle. It is walrus ivory that sat on the tundra for centuries absorbing minerals from the soil which gives it its varied color.

This is a knife in progress that Kirk worked on yesterday. The bison were also created in a four inch metal tube and now are about an inch in height. The similarity in how this knife and the Don't Fence Me In - bowie stops here. For the tube was cut into tiles and these placed in this frame of metal to forge weld them together.

This picture shows the bison as a rudimentary blade and the firestorm damascus bars my husband forged to go around the blade.

Here is a picture of the bison blade with the firestorm damascus pieces shaped around it and
being put into a metal suitcase of sorts to be forge welded together by heat from the forge and pressure of the hydraulic press and blows from my husband's hammer. The excess mild steel suitcase will be removed. Some of it will be cut off with a band saw and two large sections will tap off with a hammer.

Not all Kirk's knives are what we called Theme knives and this fancy. Some are pocket knives to be carried and used. And of course since we live in Wyoming, hunting knives which hold their sharp edge due to design, Kirk's knowledge of metallurgy, and heat treating methods. Your right. I am a bit prejudiced but I'm also his greatest critique. Long ago, Kirk learned not to bring anything to me that didn't have exceptional fit and finish. If I don't like the design or care for his choice of handle materials, he'll hear my honest opinion. We design all the theme knives together and I relish the artistic creativity.

Yesterday, was a day spent with friends we seldom ever see or hear from but come next December the phone will once again ring and they'll ask, "When's the Hammer-In" and they'll gather around the roaring forge and loud pounding of the trip hammer or haudralic press shouting to one another above the noise and ear protection. Let's hope the site is soon up and in full operation. It's not helping my grumpy attitude.

The day was topped off with a performance by our oldest grand daughter. We grinned for forty minutes as group after group of three or four year-olds paraded across the stage singing and acting out the songs. It was incredibly precious.

Sorry about the lateness of this post but a clinic doctor and I went the rounds today. Grumpo here spent the afternoon writing a Put You In Your Place letter to give to the man who called himself a doctor. Only a few people have ever receive these. But this Know It All young punk who I'm guessing was fresh out of medical school crossed way over the line and was calling my doctor to chew on him about my thyroid treatment plan which I never even told him hardly anything about. He had no test results - nothing. Not that my doctor couldn't have cut him up and chewed his butt while talking medically way over his head but my doctor does not deserve to have this young, full of himself person harassing him. I stopped him.

This was all over me wanting a little medicine since I felt my sinus infection going south which invariably means bronchitis or pneumonia. He said I wasn't too sick. I'm not but what he doesn't know is if I wait until Monday it will be ugly. Been there done that over and over for a period of years and if I get to that stage its hard to turn me the other direction. He did say my ears were too clean. Are you listening Mom? Wiping the outside every time I take a shower and the inner edge with a Q-tip twice a month is over kill. I almost burst out laughing. But you'll be proud of me I held it in.

I've already told you I rarely get sick - once every four or five years now- I just happened to be off my thyroid treatment for a period of time for testing, my system is way down and I got sick. Since I was treated for a Hobo spider bite last summer which he glanced in my chart and latched on to going on about what a strange name etc. like I'd made the spiders name up even though it is quite well know that it is one of the three most poisonous spider in the USA and can cause tissue damage similar to the Recluse spider. It has its own unique bite trademark which any ER in a hospital or emergency clinic will be well versed in. But I'm now a hypochondriac who makes up spider's names. A frequent visitor. Yup, that's me a hypochondriac who comes in every what - eight years on average? Yet this man wants to chew my doctors butt but doesn't know about the common Hobo spider.

He then asked me if I was having company this weekend. I said n, next week, and grew even more confused when he advised me to wait to take the medicine next week when everyone was here. How does having company determine when I'm to take medication? Shouldn't I be on the mend before they get here. Strep throat is the only disease I'm aware of that is killed within twenty-four hours with antibiotics. The rest are gone when all the symptoms are gone. He then proceeded to tell me penicillin is a toxin but I should take, and he listed a long list of over the counter drugs like cough medicine over the counter pain medication, and decongestants - like they're safe as candy.

My medicine which he prescribed, is for a very high powered antibiotic, along with a steroid, along with a breathing treatment. I refused the breathing treatment. I wasn't going into the fact I was allergic to plastic and I'd only get worse, much worse. One incidence after surgery with a pulmonary personnel and I've never had to deal with pulmonary in the hospital since. But I wasn't going in to that with a closed minded person. Yet for one who is not hardly sick, so he says, I'm sure getting the high powered treatment like I've got pneumonia already. Now which is it. I'm sick or not?

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