Curious Cat / Musings

Forged in Fire, Born in Blood

Now that I have your attention, let me introduce you to Bertha.

Throwing axe
Beautiful, blood-thirsty Bertha

My axe. My beautiful axe. My beautiful throwing axe to be precise. She was indeed forged in fire and there was a blood sacrifice in her making. We share one soul now.

Okay, I got the side of my thumb caught in the handle of a vise, but it bled like stink! You can see the blood on the shirt!

A friend of mine decided she wanted to take a blacksmith class. I said ‘that’s sound cool, I’ll join you’, without really thinking it through. But there’s are a couple of smiths in Bloodborne Pathogens, and I want to make one of them the main character in a new series…so research?

Let me just say, my day job is in an office. In front of a computer. I come home and write. In front of a computer. The most exercise my hands get is weeding in the garden in the summer. After the blacksmith class, I couldn’t really grip things very well for a few days. And that was with getting a fair bit of help from the teacher. It certainly highlighted how little upper body strength I have.

Though one of the most difficult things actually came before the class — finding clothes to wear. They say 100% cotton. Um, how about 95%? I had to pull out some holey jeans from the donation bag and hope 95 was good enough. But the flames are HOT. And the ash that comes off as you hammer is HOT. You definitely don’t want clothes that have flammable tendencies.

We started with a rectangular piece of metal, which we heated in the propane-powered forge. Did I mention that the flames were hot? There were times when the metal was almost white hot. We had to be careful not to accidentally touch the metal, even the part not being heated. We moved it around with tongs, which was a skill I didn’t quite develop. There were a few times where I got the metal in position to hammer it…and had to put it back in forge to re-heat. Even the tongs, which didn’t go into the flame, got hot just from handling the metal, and we had to ‘quench’ them in water every one in a while.

The initial shaping was done in pairs, one person held the blank, and the other whacked it with a sledge hammer. Once it took a basic shape, there were a couple of other hammers for more of the fine shaping, but I don’t remember what those were called. Then there was the flatter which was used for, well, making thing flat. The hardest part was actually turning the ‘eye’ to go around the hand. I couldn’t quite figure out where I need to hit to make it turn.

But despite the injury, it was so much fun! And she throws like a dream. I love that she’s a little bit rustic. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Though I should maybe do some gripping exercises first.

But enough rambling from me. Bertha is calling. And when Bertha calls, I must obey 😛

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