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Witness the Artisan

 
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Valentina
Wyrmling
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 12:27 pm    Post subject: Witness the Artisan Reply with quote

It was early for her, but well into night fall for others when she's arrived one evening to the forge Kruger used.

They had become friends rather quickly after meeting in the Outback and discovering a share affinity for ore. Weeks later she'd come across him with a new shipment of a curious ore he'd been commissioned to turn into a rather interesting set of weapons.

While she was no stranger to metals, yet the ways being worked them from plane to plane, planet to planet fascinated her and she'd asked to watch the work that could easily eat away few days time. She had no need for time and happily agreed....

-----------------------------

The heat of the forge made breathing difficult for those unused to it. Sulfur seemed to hang in the air with a palpable thickness that coated everything it came into contact with. Kruger was at home with it though, he'd spent more of his life in it than he had out. Whether that was something that could be removed he'd never considered. On a workbench metal fragments were arranged.

Some were pounded thin, he looked over those now, a heavy hammer in his hand. The pieces were darker than what was further down the bench, ingots in equal sizes though the colors of them went from grey to nearly black.

He looked at Val, did his best not to grin and started to lecture as if she were one of the students at the academy.

Valentina didn't mind the lecture at all. She even gave him a near cheesy grin back. She’d asked to learn after all, to watch at least to see how he worked this alloy.

"There is a way to tell, which pieces you fold into the metal that is only realized once you have hammered them all flat. The higher carbon steel shatters on impact." He brought the hammer down on the thinner piece, lifted it to display the jagged fragments.

"This is the key to tamahagane."

Laying the hammer aside he brushed a few of the bits into his palm and handed them over to her for inspection. She’d pulled her eyes away from the hammer that had just struck to her out stretched hand to take the fragments. She was dressed down today, simple black, no frills no lace. She even was able to go without her special contacts, something about fire was just different than daylight. She flipped them over in her fingers trying to read something that may or may not be there. She’d listened, she watched. Each place had it’s own way, but this was that metal that had given her issues. Even rolling it before to try and learn it, well it just wasn't near the same.

“You talk well with it.” for lack of a better phrase. It was all she could think to call what she did. But that was that It was hard for her sometimes to say what she meant, languages and words were not always universal. But a blind man could see he had a talent that few possessed.

Her statement was odd, the words were as close as any had come to knowing exactly what he did. She looked from the fragments to the ingots and then back to him. He nodded, small but abrupt in confirmation.

"I've listened for a long time." It was all he would offer on the matter for now. He repeated the process several times until he had a pile of the shards of metal. Then he produced some rice paper, spread it out and laid the ingot with the lightest color on top of it. Kruger used his fingers and sorted the shards placing the largest ones on top of the ingot. Then slowly building upwards biggest to smallest. He kept talking as he worked.

"The paper will be wrapped around the entire thing, to keep it together when it goes into the forge." He folded it, and placed a tie around it to keep the paper from opening. Then he added a clay like liquid over the top of it. "This will keep the paper from burning away too quickly."

The smith placed the bundle deep into the flames, his left hand went to the bellows chain, and began to pull it slowly in time with his own breathing. The flames jumped, and the temperature noticeably began to increase in the shop.

"There is no instant gratification using this method, every stage takes time and effort. But the end product will reflect the maker."




cont...
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Kruger
THE ANVIL
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 26, 2015 7:51 pm    Post subject: Witness the Artisan Reply with quote

He must have read her face, She was just about to ask him how such a normal paper would keep from being incinerated. But as he soon showed her, there was a method to do so. It reminded her of watching old artisans making sculptures from simple copper, wax, and sand. Sometimes things just worked in ways they were not meant to, or as one would think they should not. She kept running her fingers over the shards he’d given her like a gambler would his last coins.

“Is this part of the tradition you did not do before? Or to their liking?” There were so many steps he’d already gone through and she was sure there had to be more.

She looked down to the metal in her fingers feeling the difference the time he’d spent with it from the rare material he’d let her see before. It was interesting to say the least, she was even more curious to feel how it changed when it got closer to being finished. She wasn’t sure if she’d be allowed to touch the finished product though, not physically. Things that required that much care and making were very temperamental to her type of probing.

Kruger shook his head, listening to the flames. "This? No, I follow all the steps as they would, as I was taught, I am simply not one of them. In a thousand years it probably won't matter. Now..." He shrugged one large shoulder. "It matters to them. I'll keep making the steel though, making swords from it." He took a flat shovel and scooped out the bundle, the paper had burned away except where the clay was thickest. There it had hardened and held the entirety together. The metal beneath was bright orange from the its time in the fire. Kruger stopped talking, he needed to work quickly. The bundle was deposited on the anvil, and the heavy hammer was in his hand again. It came down hard on the heated metal, where the shards had been placed. Clay and paper broke away, revealing to Val the burning metal. With each strike the layers of shards welded themselves back together and to the ingot.

Kruger took a wide chisel and placed it at the halfway point of the ingot, and drove it down until it was nearly all the way through the piece. Then he held it with the tongs, slid the piece until half of it was in open air over the edge of the anvil. This he beat downward until it was at ninety degrees. He placed it on to the anvil once more and continued to make his fold until the sides touched. then he placed it back into the fire. "That's one, I'll repeat that process another fifteen times before the metal is ready to work." Could she see the math in her head too? how one layer just became two, the next would make it four then eight doubling over and over again sixteen different times?

She would not be able to see it exactly that way, She wasn’t sure why he did so. But slowly as she watched and listened to the crackle of the fires and ping of the hammer, she slowly began to understand a bit. Her brows shot up but she kept her exclamation from being startling since he was working.

It was all she could do not to run over and watch up close. She wasn’t sure without touching it. And she just couldn’t do that, so she locked her hands behind her back, intertwining her fingers until they were tingling with numbness.
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