News and Announcements

--News & Announcements--

Over the next 6 months, I won't be getting much time in the shop, or anywhere else for that matter due to a change in work schedule. However, there are a number of posts I have already worked out. In the coming weeks, I will hopefully have enough time to get them out there.

Watch for--
Excursion into Onesquethaw Cave
Ascent of Mount Washington
Iron Age bellows build

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Painted in Light

Rarely does the reach of man extend out into the untapped vastness of the universe, to the soundless depths of the ocean, or there beneath the land that we call home. Light fails and where the sight would guide us, only the lure of mystery and the call of the unknown serve as our guide. To many, the weight of the world pressing down upon them and the closing walls are the seed of nightmare. Yet for thousands of years, countless passages have wormed their ways in the hidden depths of the earth. In the early years of time they were created, sculpted, pushed and pulled just so, until what we can remember was left behind. So little travelled, delving into the cavernous depths of the mountains, beneath the labyrinth of roots that hold life to the forests, abandoned paths of rivers worn in their course, in a word, relics of that which we can no longer fathom beckons us to them like a siren's chilling call.

In this generation, there are precious few places that one can travel which have never been travelled before. Places that have never been explored, whose secrets remain hidden even after the passage of ten thousand generations. To many, the thrill of adventure is curiously- or perhaps depressingly- absent. However, to those who have been taken by a singularly unique and powerful sensation, the possibilities abound. There are more opportunities around every corner of the world than could be taken in a lifetime. In a dozen lifetimes. All that separates us from them is the willingness to venture into a place where the comforts of familiarity are behind us and only the unknown wilds remain.

Buried beneath the mountains lie countless tunnels and passages hewn by the Hand of time and the breath of nature. Earlier this year, in absence of my ability to pursue my love of the mountains to the north, we turned to another muse.  How often it is that we fail to see what is around us, the beauty of the world as it rests in its so fragile state, and even rarer still to what lies below.Or rather, between.

Incredible worlds exist beneath our feet that no eye can ever see, unimaginable in character and unfathomable in beauty. But beside the countless lands we cannot visit there are precious few which, to man, will still remain invisible. Twisting sculptures of rock, claddings of minerals deposited by the steady drip of water, shreds of subterranean life which cling to the surfaces like glittering veins of gold. Of these, there are many recounts, of which I have added one of my own in the previous excursion into the underworld.

This trip, however, brought about a different reflection of the humble caverns. Never in their lifetimes will they see the light of the natural world, for it is defining of their nature. Only by the whims of humanity can these shadowed walls be seen, through the flickering light of candles cradled in the hands of our forebears, the ethereal, pale light of the modern Age, or in this instance, something quite different altogether.

Only in the deep places of the world when all lights have been put out does the weight of our size and the frailty of our age press down. To some, such a revelation might come on the shifting tides that separate life from death. Here, only life could bring it about.

Painted in light, frozen in time, our coming was but a blink in the life of the world. Never again would our footprints be crisp or our breath held in a silver white nimbus. Never again would light pierce that absolute darkness in such a way as to form a living beast all its own.

Upon a canvass of black, the only to which such a creature can survive, something mesmerizing happened. That which was hidden became known, and that which was known faded away in the wake of infinite undiscovery.

Purple, blue, green, yellow, colour in its purest form untainted by the radiance of the sun each woven together to form phantasmagorical illusion.

As quickly as our time in the passage of the earthen splendour had come, it too was at an end. Countless generations of our kin have come and gone without our presence, and as many more will pass without a trace, as it was ever meant to be. And there in the darkness lie the spirits of the dark, presiding over the darkness of a world unseen.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


                    Ere the silent shadows mourn and daylight fades to night
                         Beneath the watching eyes of heaven long hours turn to light.
                         A shapeless form, a heedless stare, a body birthed by moon,
                         Living, breathing, gone to all but memory he rises by ancient rite.

Call of sparks, fanning flame,
          far and near together come
     brotherhood to brothers and brothers found.
     Aflight a fleet of ship and horse,
          they round the shadows home
     and in the coming passes Eldgrímr upon the starlight ground.

Returned to the halls of the Golden land
          where in the twilight finds
     three suns, four moons, and the hymns of the
          midnight gone.
     Into the wood of an ancient mire did Eldgrímr
          journey forth
     for the triumph of the hunt.

                    Bow ahand, firetongue o're back, sword for the belt to hold,
                         into the undergrowth venture forth towards a host unknown
                         in company and kinship for feast midday to bear.
                         Beneath the summer-green canopy towards the winding depths
                         of rivers run and bends of brink
                              towards a silent throne.

Atop the flames in triumph rest the spoils of Eldgrímr come
     to feast and forge a rightful cornerstone.
Seated beneath the billowing smoke
     bare beasts arise from mists
And in the succulent herbs contend
     with the hunger of hammers and thirst of steel
For the mead of Poetry and sinew of Swords abound to fare.
From the nectar of the fathers of old, a mighty
     draft forth spring,
to the spark of creation hums and again begins anew.

A forest of swords from iron grows
     in the breath of dragons' might.
Hammer in hand and anvil strong, hammer
     between throws sparks red, orange bright.
Callused hands and coarse wiry beards
     bear witness to the morning blade
As shadows flee the steel soft, and in oil
          finds its strength.

Weary in the hours come, a rest so welcome sound
     to the tune of the forefathers, ember sing
     and into the night song flows.
Song of sorrows and song of joys, song of elder times.
     Song of remembrance Eldgrímr sang
     to legends fallen so long ago.

Come the dawn and flee the sun, the rhythm begins again.
     beneath the forgefire coals, far down the pot
     an an ancient way brought life anew
     to the axe of Danskere, in flames the irons brew.
Cleft in halves the edges join,
     a union brought by hammers hard,
     drink in the anvil's might.

                    Before the great golden sun finds home atop the sky,
                         Eldgrímr takes flight once more.
                         Towards foreign lands with swords in hand,
                         to the raiding of Hlaðadór.

                    Forgotten treasures buried beneath the decay of time
                         and the passing of an Age.
                         Easements lost in sleepless night, slumber upon the floor
                         while eaves creep farther warding the weary intruder's step.

Wreathed in the smoke of pipes alight,
     the midnight grindstone wears away
the armour of rust and cladding of scale
     that holds back the beauty of steel's soul.

                    Long last the dawn rises once more and Eldgrímr fades
                         back into the pages of the remembered days
                         Through flame and forge beneath heaven's light
                         Returns to the idles of the world's sight.
                    Yet not without the brothers' bond, and the memories of those rare old times.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A Farewell to Troy

It is not too often, or perhaps more often than we would like, that we are uprooted from our lives and forced to say farewell to all that we have come to know in comfort. Four and a half years passed since I first moved to the great city of Troy, and in a beat of a heart, they have gone. Looking back I will never cease to be amazed at how much has come to pass through those formative years and the impact they will have on the rest of my life.

I have come to know the company of friends who will remain, if not in presence, in the company of thought, for a great many years to come. Since my ignorance of first departing the midwest to the wilds of the north, I have found an education in ways that no books can tell and experiences that no vicarious use of technology can replace.

When first I stepped out of the door and undertook the deceivingly innocent quest, it was not without its trials. Theft from the uninvited hand plagued our caravan, and even before it all began, everything had been turned on its head. Several thousand dollars later, a semblance of balance had returned, and just in time for a whirlwind of unexpected journeys.

Troy is the birthplace of 'Uncle Sam' and is naturally a hero of the city. A meat packer during the mid 1800's, Sam Wilson became a small legend that eventually transformed into the image commonly portrayed in the recruitment posters during the first World War.

Beneath the shadow of his legacy, the city shaped me in its own unique way. Early during my stay, I joined a local swing band, and through it I was able to perform in the Albany 'Egg', a performing arts venue that one night held a silent auction to which I livened, and Rensselaer's Experimental Media and Performing Arts Centre (EMPAC), which is pictured below.

In the small hours of the night, I realized my love of the stars, using one of the largest public telescopes in the northeast. Being able to see the craters of the moon and the cataclysmic destruction that rent its surface Ages ago was not only mesmerizing but also a curiosity I saw every day without every paying the respect of notice. Due to the moon's lack of atmosphere, smaller gravitational field, and unique composition, the largest of the scars bore a fascinating anomaly. When a meteor collided with the surface, the rock was liquefied and, like a droplet of water, pulled back towards the centre from the surface tension. As a result, the crust hardened in that position, leaving a needle-like island in the middle of a tremendous crater.

Although there are countless treasures nestled in the city, one of my favourite places in Troy is The Brown Bag, a small burger joint that serves the best food I have ever eaten. Combined with the friendly faces that make it like a second home, The Brown Bag stays open through the night, making it one of the few places for a midnight meal. The owner, Terry, became a friend and served up the last meal I had in Troy.

While not in the city, Troy offered something else to me that I will never forget. The mountains. Part of the Appalachian range, the Adirondacks became a place of calling for me, and in the two years I ventured out into them, I hiked 15 of the 46 High Peaks. Fostering both my love of the outdoors and a growing interest in photography, they were my first real taste of mountaineering that has only just begun a lifelong passion of adventure.

When I could not make the long drive north, the last four years also developed an old hobby of climbing. In my youth, climbing was one of my favourite things to do. Whether rock walls or trees in the back yard, it did not matter. Around a year and a half ago, a few friends and I became more serious with climbing when we found a great local wall. The Edge, outside of Albany, is the best I have ever been to (admittedly few as they have been). With over 50 top roped walls and a bouldering island, we grew from climbing 5.7 and 5.8 walls to 5.11+ in the time we had. Being able to find the control and patience in the sport is something I will surely miss in both the absence of the sport and the friends who joined me in it.

Contrary to the mountain heights, delving into the depths of the underworld became a more recent but no less appreciated passtime. Caving is a curious thing. Approaching a crack in the ground and knowing that an entire world exists beneath your feet is simultaneously terrifying and exhilarating. Wrapped in utter darkness, supported by pillars of rock and carved by water of the centuries, so much lies there that so many will never experience. In the span of the past two months, we visited three caves, each of which holding their own special beauty and lure.

Looking back on those four years, I realize now that I have come to do things which I never would have imagined possible when first setting foot on the road that led me there. Three years ago, and I find it difficult to believe so much time has already passed, I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in DC, which to this day is one of the most surreal memories I have. Running beside tens of thousands of others along the National Mall was like nothing I have ever experienced before or since.

In those years, I have travelled three countries and sailed both the Atlantic and Pacific, 15 states and a dozen others between. Through the opportunities afforded to me I embarked on warships and flew in attack helicopters, rode in nuclear submarines and ran in bomb suits, trained with the Marine Corps and with them, was able to fire M203s and AT4s.

Encouragement from the greatest professor I have ever had, I was able to undertake the writing of 4 novels and, more importantly, develop my own sense of identity. Although she left the institute over a year ago now, the impact she made on me will remain for the rest of my life.

Beside the friends I have made and the countless experiences I have had, there remains one that will ever be more than that. Three years ago I had a second calling to the world of craftsmanship. More specifically, smithing. Blacksmithing and bladesmithing, cartography and to a lesser degree bowyering and leatherworking, woodworking and armouring, have opened so many doors into the most soul nourishing experiences of my life. The craft itself fills something that, in its absence, I feel hollow, but it is the people- the brotherhood- that has made the most significant difference. In the passing years, I have made friends who have made such a profound impact on my perspective on life and spirituality, on understanding and in the sharing of this journey with humanity. Despite the condemnation of experience to fade into memory, the bonds they have formed and the foundation they serve as will never be forgotten.

The last four years have led me to the corners of the world, to knowledge and wisdom and life experience that is worth to me more than words can describe, and now I must move on once again. Out into the wilds of the world and the corners of the oceans, to wherever the winds blow, to those who I have come to know and must now leave behind, though our parting is but an ending, it is not the last.

I bid you all a very fond farewell, and may we meet again.