Thursday, July 4, 2013

Arctic Fire 2012 - Golden Days of Oakland Part 2

As Oakland's balmy summer of 2012 passed it's mid-way mark, I spent my days polishing blades, striking for Jim on various axes, and drinking his home-brewed beer in return. It felt like it was the place to be, with my mind tuned to internet rumblings in the swordsmithing world, and so much tangible evidence of it around me. 

But it was more than just the exciting murmurs of enthusiasts.  Something was brewing that was going to change the game.  It was announced that, in the finals days of June, visionaries of the craft and art, poet-smiths and makers of artifacts at once new and ancient, would convene in the majestic peaks of Alaska.  Dave Stephens, a very talented bladesmith and unparalleled giver to our movement, was to host them all at his shop and broadcast their esoteric rituals and practices live across the all-permeating waves of the internet-plane.  Jim and Jeff, with their unique insight to the special skill of axe-smithing, enhanced by their in-depth and first-hand examination of iron-age Germanic axes, were asked to contribute a short video for broadcast. 

I had recently tried my hand at linoleum block-printing, and carved blocks to print these shirts, at Jim's request:

I printed them on t-shirts for everyone involved who wanted one, and we got down to business.  Anna Geyer has filmed lots of Jim's smithing videos in the past, and she was all set up to begin.  After a quick glass of Jim's incredible homebrew oatmeal stout to unleash our inner thespians, we took up our positions and played our parts.  It got spliced around a sped-up video of me, Nathan Smith, and Jake striking while Jim leads on an axe of his. It's a great video because the change you see is very gradual, and then all of a sudden at the end there's an axe and you realize how subtly genius it was.  

But honestly, those warm nights under long sunsets were spent doing things like the below: using Jeff Pringle's spare cable-damascus throwing knives on unassuming boxes of Lanesplitter pizza. 

Jim takes his aim, beer in hand for support!

We gathered in the shop, with a projector and massive speakers, to watch the Arctic Fire event!  Captivated by the magical and moving presentations of Dave Stephens, Jake Powning, Peter Johnsson, Michael Pikula, Dave Delagardelle, J. Arthur Loose, we learned a lot and had plenty to talk about.  Overall, the event left us brimming with inspiration and enthusiasm.

Not to mention vicious blows of an ancient blood-feud such as this one, between myself and the singularly despicable Candian:

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