středa 12. prosince 2012

Fiddle in Trewhiddle

As i wrote before, i really love to work within the boundaries of old art styles, mainly those of our germanic ancestors, i must  alsoadmit that i find a strange pleasure to explore those styles which are a bit less popular then notorious Jelling and Urnes style. There was already a post about the Salin I and II styles, this time i would like to write a little more about my work in Trewhiddle style.
The style is named by a hoard of silver objects found in Cornwall and its a native style of Britain of 9th century. The main body of works in this style is engraved silver with lines filed with niello. I believe that after the previous styles, displaying bold lines in glittering gold, it had to have a intricate and delicate impact on the wiever. The efect is in fact almost tender.

The technique the artist used in antiqity to lay out the design is somewhat you dont see often on todays inspired works. Todays artist and craftsmen just copy a motive and use it on a surface where they think it might fit. Its indeed possible in most styles, but its not easy in any of them. Trewhiddle as many other styles used panneling of the surface of the object, in my opinion to avoid the problem with tying the design over the endless surfaces of cylindrical objects or large spaces of round brooches. In those pannels wee animals were squeezed, legs and wings foldes around fragile bodies.

Here is an example of the seax pommel in the style i made some weeks ago

and this one is small handseax with treqwhiddleish beasts

 these two pictures show my work in trehiddle style in organic materials, the form of the beasts is not the same but they surely are a same family of beasts.

exploring these old styles gives you a wonderfull insight to a mental world and working habits of ancient craftsmen.
Thanks for your patience and if you have urge please comment or ask.

čtvrtek 6. prosince 2012

Handmade world

Hello! Long time no post, but not because i had not anything to say! On the contrary, i have several ideas in my mind, so probably there will be a more frequent posting. This post will be unusual a bit, because it features not only my work, but also work of other amazing art and craft folk.
In past few years i develepod desire to fill my daily life with handmade object, instead of machine made ones. It came from the deep love of items made by actual people. To be able to observe the print of their personalities in the object. Its the way how i can communicate with other creative beings, even when i am alone. I want to introduce you to my daily companions and their makers.

First picture shows a pocket knife i made for myself from end of the seax billet and pieces of scrap, but in the front you can see my most recent addittion - corkscrew by my friend and amazing maker Jeff Helmes. The handle is also a case where you can screw the screw in :-)

Here is my cutlery i use whenever i can. A soup bowl and coffee mug made by Mr. Sršeň here in Czech republic. What i love about those, is the fact that these splashes of black are in fact pieces of iron melted into the surface. Also there is a salt shaker i made some weeks ago and  foldable tablespoon mady by my friend Hloh. The teaspoon is made partialy by me and by Hloh again. Its a socket construction

These days its good to stay warm, so i have these fingerless gloves and wollen cap, made by my lovely wife in naalbiding technique. The blues scarf is present from Mrs. Longmire, a wife of my great Tennessee smith friend.

You can realize the quality of handmade object in every step, quite literaly in these boots made by my friend from six years old Benjamin Hrubeš. The toggle is mady from horse hoof, which i found lovely appropriate. Shoes are pictured together with a belt he also made for me, featuring the antler carved bucke i made for the project.

 Last but not least, here is a sketchbook, handbound and painted by my amazing artist friend Hela Rosova. I hope that spirit of her work will help me drawing the ideas for new work.

These were just some of my daily companions, everyday using of objects made by hands of individual person, with the love and understanding of the craft has unspoken warmth, which can be hardly provided by stuff stamped in one of Sarumans machines.

Hand make your world!
Hloh -
Jeff Helmes -
Hela Rosova -
Benjamin Hrubeš -
Mr. Sršeň -

pátek 26. října 2012

Forth Eorlingas! I

The idea came to me while polishing a handle of a knife for another project, as this operation usualy consumes a tiny bit of brain capacity, i am allowing my imagination to go free.
I was tempted for a long time to make another Tolkien inspired piece, most likely Rohan. I also like to make spears, and finaly i am tempted to make a dragonslaying weapon. It melted to an idea to create the grave goods of Rohan hero Fram, son of Frumgar, who slayed the great dragon Scatha.
Here is the first picture od what grave furniture might look like
 i want to make few more fibulas, a blowing horn and maybe a cremation urn. These goods are supposed to be kept in Meduseld treasury.
This will be a long term project which might even fail during the journey, because i will try to scrap some time to work on this, unless some of you, gentle reades, wants to commission this and be a proud owner of genuine artwork, dedicated to a forgoten hero
I already started with a small item, a tunic fastening brass brooch. As you can see, i am about to invent (or as Tolkien would say re-invent) the style which will fit Rohan way of life. I will faithfuly base this on anglosaxon material culture, because i think it fits and i think mister Tolkien would approve.

the fibula is about 40 milimeters long

neděle 21. října 2012

Arifjoðr - Eagle feather

Here is the other one from those two i wrote about. Much more complex piece and i believe one of my better works. It represents my idea of war knife of mighty warlord from 6th century Sweden. The owner would surely belong to a  local aristocracy, because the knife is pretty richly ornamented, and because it bears motives in Salin II animal style, which is believed to be a style of ruling class.

I also went for slightly aged look to emphasize germanic fascination with old and proven. The weapon, same as friend is best tested by the tooth of time and storm of the battle.
Its very interesting that while the blades are pretty plain in this time on seaxes, the sheaths are often more laborous then the weapon itself. so i tried to go for this look too.
In next few days the Eagle feather will travel to its new homestead, leaving me a bit sad for its leaving but rich for the experience earned in working on this and the shalow but valuable insight in the world of germanic aristocracy of Vendel period sweden

Of course, Myles did great job on poem on this one, so by reading it (do it aloud, its the way these are meant to be read) it will stay with me till the end of my time.

Shivering birches
shook in the wind
while raiders ran
to wreck their target.
They burned the gate
and gained their entry,
but waiting for them
was a wall of shields,
and in the middle stood
a mighty hersi.
He held his war-knife
high and aloft,
its grip alive
with livid monsters,
its eager edge
aiming forwards.
“I am an eagle
with this icy feather.
Through this battle
it will bear me swiftly
to catch you fish
and carry you off.
In coming here,
you have caused your doom.”
The fighting was fierce
but the foes were beaten,
and songs were sung
in celebration
under graven gables,
glad to be whole.

čtvrtek 18. října 2012


Storm in anglosaxon, is the name of the 6th century spear head i forged for my good customer. He came with the idea of old pagan saxon spears with interesting profiles. While these profiles itself are very striking visualy and very interestin deviation from the norm, I immediatly started to think how this will look done in wrought iron, where you can literaly see how the hammer formed red hot metal. The strings of materials follow the lead of the smiths hand and tell the story of its birth.
The spearhead is of the type used in early saxon England, it has fullered blade, split open socket, which is bound with a bronze binding ring, bearing ornamentation in Salin I animal style. In this case, beastman is crawling around the socket circumference .
The spear head is also a part of bladesmithing narrative project I collaborate on with great poet Myles Mulkey. He had realy hit the right feeling with this one.
 It speaks about times when the safe world was ending at the willage fence, where the fire lit meadhall was symbolising ancestry, pride, continuity and safety. And if you happened to face the unknown horrors of outer world, to watch for danger and protect your folk, you would love to have an ashen shaft to grasp and a cloud grey spearhead bound with the ring, as you are bound to your lord

In a high hall     there was happy feasting.
Waiting outside,     a watchman stood guard.
He knew not     what night-lurkers stalked him,
wretched raiders     borne on roaring seas,
or greedy beasts     with gaping maws,
but he felt no fear,     fiery of heart,
for in his hand     he held Abrecan.
That doom of men     was decked with a ring,
the price of his promise,     pledged to his lord.
He regarded that gift     greater than silver,
and burned or buried,     he would bear it with him.

pondělí 8. října 2012

Meadhall guardians

Just as i wrote in previous blog, i am in the middle of the work on two pieces from 6th century.
First one is Swedish styled seax, with 35 cm long blade, welded from ancient stringy iron and steel edge. I am just making the hilt for this one - quite complex work with sheet brass fittings and wooden carved handle in Salin II style
 the style of the fittings and actually overall style of the seax is hugely inspired by a seax from Bjars in Sweden.

There is a lot of work ahead on this one, making upper bolster and pommel, and carving the handle. But for those seaxes, sheaths were often much more ornamented the entire seax.

Second piece is very interesting saxon spear, also from 6th century. It has two unusual features - the split socket which will be terminating in bronze Salin I style ring with Tiermensch motive, and the blade which is very strangely corrugated, it has depression on left side on both faces of the blade. The cross section is therefore of the S rune shape.
The spear is forged from very same piece of wrought iron i used for the spine of previous seax. It was very usual not to have any steel in spear heads in this period

I hope i can make Myles to write poems to one or both of them :-)

úterý 2. října 2012

Digging deeper

My most prominent inspiration is and alway was the viking age Scandinavia, and i fell in love with late viking art styles (especially Mammen and Ringerike) but after an awesome collaboration with my friend Jeff Helmes on spear from Vendel,

i found myslef digging deeper in time for splendid material of Migration Period and Vendel time.
Most of my current works are in Sallin type II style. Very elegant flowy but also very dense and sometimes crowded.

The distribution of those items embelished in this style - across all the Europe is stunning. It was in fact the style of Germanic ruling elite.
Now i am working on the sax in this style, strongly inspired by a find in Bjars in Sweden. The blade is welded from ancient iron and the hilt and scabbard will be highly ornamented in Salin II style

This is obviously scandinavian example, but because i find autumn to be very anglosaxon in the sense of mood, and because i am just reading excelent book by Stephen Pollington Wayland´s work, i hope i will manage to create anglo saxon 6th century spear with bronze ring in Salin I style very soon! So i dig even deeper...

Swordsmith and Wordsmith

Earlier this year, in summer, i was working on the stag hunting spear for a customer, my friend Myles Mulkey feeled inspired and wrote an awesome poem about it. It struck a long tuned string in me, so i asked Myles if he want to collaborate in a project, once again tieing spiritual and material culture of long gone ancestors.
We made the deal, that when i will tink that some of my pieces is somehow worthy of getting poem about it, Myles would compose this poem.

Here are pictures of 3 of our first 4 endeavours. Enjoy!

This is the above mentioned spear with Patternwelded blade and bronze socket

This one is tied to the line of knives i make, all with the wildboar motive. Their name is Hildiswin

And finaly, the big patternwelded knife i made, Emblar brodir

Myles has also blog - you can see it here: By the Red Embers