Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant FY20

The North Dakota Council on the Arts has a Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program that “is designed to honor and encourage the preservation of North Dakota’s diverse living traditions by providing grants that allow master traditional artists to pass their skills and knowledge to apprentices on a one-to-one basis over an extended period of …

Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Grant FY21

Ermagherd we get to do it again! The North Dakota Council on the Arts has a Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program that “is designed to honor and encourage the preservation of North Dakota’s diverse living traditions by providing grants that allow master traditional artists to pass their skills and knowledge to apprentices on a one-to-one basis …

Apprenticeship Session 17

The last of our official sessions under the FY20 NDCA Folk and Traditional Arts grant had us working on our hammer and starting an axe. Yay! We’re finally getting to the axe, which is a project I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Hammer Last week we started our hammer head and had …

Apprenticeship Session 16

This one was a doozie as it was double, maybe triple, long. Today we focused on getting one hammer made. Sounds easy enough, right? One hammer, one long day, two (or three) people, no problem. Uh, we got a long ways but we did not get it done in the 5+ hours that we spent …

Apprenticeship Session 15

The end of our grant is fast approaching and we’ve got a few projects left to finish up. So today is going to be another double session of basically finishing the projects we were working on last week. Viking-age Bellows With the beeswax/tar goop that we painted on the canvas last week now dry, it …

Folk Art in Place: Eel Spear

Because in-person classes are mostly on hold for the time being, the Vesterheim museum in Decorah, IA has been having their instructors do some virtual lessons. Here’s a video that Doug did for that series on how to make an eel spear.

Folk Art in Place: Goose Prairie Forge

Because in-person classes are mostly on hold for the time being, the Vesterheim museum in Decorah, IA has been having their instructors do some virtual lessons. Here’s a video that Doug did for that series of a tour of his smithy.

Apprenticeship Session 13

heating the working section

Since we’ve lost so much time this spring, today was an extra long session and we actually got to work on two projects: cooking utensils and our bellows. Cooking Utensils I had seen these utensils – I dunno what we should call them, maybe bread bakers? – at a couple of reenactment events we had …

Apprenticeship Session 12

So after a break of a few months due to the death of my mother and the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, we returned to making progress on our projects. Part of today’s session was simply regrouping after the recent events, but some of it was planning for the remainder of the projects. We’ve got …

Apprenticeship Session 11

We did it! We finished our Måstermyr chain. Well, mostly. We spent 5-1/2 hours and finished the 23 links that we had created and joined them into one chain. The actual Måstermyr chain had 26 links and a ring at one end. We will probably add those at some point, but for now we are …

Apprenticeship Session 10

Today is the day when we turn from making links to making an actual chain. The thought of forging a link together while there are a couple of other links hanging off of it seems daunting. It’s often the case that we struggle to get the piece shoved into the fire as it gets hung …

Apprenticeship Session 9

We had some homework to finish before today’s session in anticipation of forge welding the links. We had made a few U-shaped pieces in preparation for making links for our chain during out last session, but we needed to complete more of them – 12 in total – to have enough to work with for …

Notes: Scandinavian Blacksmithing in the Iron Age

I took a few notes as I was reading a master’s thesis written by Sverre Christoffer Guldberg, “The Smith on the Edge of Worlds: New Perspectives on Technology and Ideology in the Late Norwegian Iron Age” in 2014 at the University of Oslo. This is not meant to be a summary of the document, but …

Apprenticeship Session 8

So we continued our work with forge welding, or at least prepping for it. We didn’t actually do any forge welding today. We are working on replicating a chain found as part of an archeological find in Sweden called the Måstermyr find. It’s a rare case of an entire toolbox full of blacksmithing and other …

Apprenticeship Session 7

Forge welding. Today we tackle forge welding. Okay, we dabbled in this once before, but now we’re getting down to brass tacks. We started the session in the “classroom” – meaning Doug’s dining room table – with a lecture on how forge welding works and the various fluxes that are used to clean the metal. …

Apprenticeship Session 6

With wreath season over and the craziness of the holidays behind us and all that brought to everyone involved, it was time to get back to the forge. So we had some half-finished candleholders that we needed to complete. So we had left our candleholders in this state: So what remained was to taper the …

Apprenticeship Session 5

Because Goose Prairie Forge turns into Swenson Greenery for the holiday wreath-making season we were unable to work on our bellows, so instead we started to work on a Viking-age candlestick. While these were an everyday item in the Viking-age, they weren’t something that everybody owned. Not necessarily a nobleman’s item, but probably not something …

Apprenticeship Session 4

Since the forge is set up for wreath-making season, we chose to work on fire strikers rather than continue our bellows project. So we started with the pieces we had hammered out the last time and started to draw out one end to a taper. I guess it’s not a true taper since with a …

Apprenticeship Session 3

tine pounded into bar stock for the fire striker

So we had a bit of a break since our last session and expected to finish up the bellows today. However, we didn’t have the rivets we needed so we went through some safety reminders and decided to start working on fire strikers instead. So we started with a piece of 10851085 1085 steel is …

Apprenticeship Session 2

the finished bellows valve

So we started to build our Viking-age bellows tonight. Doug had the wood pieces all pre-cut and ready to assemble, which makes it sound quick and easy. However, three hours later we have one bellows only half assembled. There’s more to it than you’d think. Making the Valve Our previous session went over how the …

Apprenticeship Session 1

bellows design notes

So we started our apprenticeship with Doug Swenson as part of the Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant that we received. The work plan was originally developed about six months ago and we’ve learned a lot since then. And we are about to leave on a trip and be away from the forge for several …