Saturday, June 27, 2015

Pocket Knife & A Ring

Not much activity lately! These two items were made a while back and I'm just getting around to posting the images. This knife was made as a birthday gift for my wife's young cousin. This time he wanted a folding pocket knife, which I've been getting into lately. It's a simple friction folder with an oak handle. This was another quick one, but it's got a great little heft to it, and I hope he enjoys it.


- Aldo's 1085 blade
- Oak handle with some traces of medullary activity
- Measurements are long forgotten haha

I also made a very simple silver wire ring inspired by an Anglo Saxon example at the British Museum. These are pretty fun and easy to make, and when using dead soft wire, you can do most of it with your fingers.

Thanks for reading! I'll have some free time to devote to this type of work very soon, and more posts will follow.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Some Quick And Dirty Work

Here are a couple of quickly forged items that have been left rough with no polishing. The spear has an unwelded socket in the Anglo-Saxon style, and it's overall form is inspired by Petersen Type K spears, though it does not follow this exactly. It was forged from mild steel and was lightly carburized on the outside surface of the steel, but this does not appear to have gone very deeply. Just tinkering. The "polish" is just a light scraping-off of the burnt oil with a coarse file. The shaft is a maple stave cut last year that I straightened with the heat of a bonfire, and it has been seasoning indoors since. The hinges are inspired by those from the Mästermyr chest, which will adorn a similarly inspired pine chest in the future. Humble enough objects, but I enjoyed making them as I always do. And it was nice to be able to forge them and be done with them without having to spend so much time in the later stages of work. All in all, very fun and refreshing to make.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Pocket Knife, A New Handle For An Old Blade, And A Sneaky Peaky

New pocket knife, small and overly thin but I will use it to clean my nails with, whittle, etc. Maple handle, mild steel insert, wrought iron spine, recycled coil spring edge steel.

The handle for my first folding knife broke, turns out this design with the hinge pin and the stop pin so close together is not a good one. It creates too much stress on too little area of wood. I went with oak this time, hopefully it will hold up a little better. Supporting the spine of the knife with my thumb more will also help reduce the forward stress on the stop pin.

Sneak peak at one of my three groomsmen knives that are in the works. Wrought iron spine with 1084 edge steel. These will also feature my makers mark, seen here prior to the final polish and etch.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Beorning Poem

My good friend, Petr Florianek ( ;, has done some beautiful work creating a material culture for Tolkien's world. One of his efforts has been in creating a Beorning culture, circling around everyone's favorite big, boisterous bear-man from the Hobbit, Beorn. Petr has his own inspirations behind his work in this style, but I find the work itself to be the inspiration. He's done a great job creating this and other Tolkienian art styles, and I hope to one day explore this area myself. He asked me to commemorate his Knife of Beorn with a poem. It's not in the usual Germanic style, but I think it's appropriate. I hope you enjoy it.

Where once a bear
had made his home,
a man now lives there,
all alone.
Mead he drinks
and honey eats,
and runs faster
than any beast.
But now and then,
some men have said,
the bear returns
to his old bed.
And sleeping there
beside the fire,
his hunger grows,
his growling dire.
And forest-men,
when passing there,
are terrified
of that old bear.
With unstrung bows
and heads hung low,
they softly walk
through the meadow.
They do not dare
to hunt with hounds,
and are careful
to make no sounds.
And when they see
the fearsome bear,
they know they are
alone out there.
For never when
the beast does roam,
can the bee-man
be found at home.

Copyright © 2014 Myles Mulkey
Images courtesy of Petr Florianek (

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Art Versus The Machine

"There is the tragedy and despair of all machinery laid bare. Unlike art which is content to create a new secondary world in the mind, it attempts to actualize desire, and so to create power in this World; and that cannot really be done with any real satisfaction. Labor-saving machinery only creates endless and worse labour. And in addition to this fundamental disability of a creature, is added the Fall, which makes our devices not only fail of their desire, but turn to new and horrible evil. And so we turn inevitably from Daedalus and Icarus to the Giant Bomber. It is not an advance in wisdom!"

- J.R.R. Tolkien

Thursday, January 30, 2014

First Casting

First post in quite a while! I must preface this one by saying that the activities discussed/illustrated in the below post are not safe, I am no expert so you shouldn't use anything from this post as any kind of guide, and you should not attempt to do any of this yourself. Now, enjoy.

I have been metalworking here and there since my last post, nothing really productive, just tinkering. It has been unseasonably cold here in Georgia, just had some snowfall this week, and the winter gloom has been making me yearn for summer again. This past summer, I managed to find some time to try casting bronze. It was a learning experience, a trial and error affair to put my theoretical knowledge into practice, and it is another example of making something new and bright with little equipment.

My goal was to cast a copper-alloy bolster for an ongoing collaboration I'm doing with Luke Shearer ( I was lucky enough to meet Luke in person at this year's Oakland Axe'N Sax-In, which I thoroughly enjoyed and will discuss in another post.

Like most of what I do, I wanted this process to be natural and enjoyable and done close to the earth - literally in this case. I tried casting the bolster twice, both times using open-top molds. The mold used in the first attempt was made from a haphazard mix of clay, sand, and grog and was contained in an old saucepan for ease of carrying. The one used in the second attempt was made of soapstone, which I enjoyed preparing and much prefer for this kind of activity. I wasn't happy with the results of either attempt to cast the bolster. I ended up forge-soldering it from two pieces of sheet bronze, and again, I will save this for another post.

As an impromptu part of the casting experiment, I made a small Mjölnir pendant as a test casting before attempting to pour the bolster. I impressed the hammer shape into some leftover clay using a broken twig, and quickly dried the resulting mold using embers from the fire. Moisture and casting do not mix, and I probably wasn't working with "safe" levels of moisture in my molds. I'm sure if they weren't open-top molds, gasses could have been a problem and popping, bubbling metal could have jumped out at me. Luckily that didn't happen, and while I wasn't happy with either attempt at the bolster, I did end up with the pendant and I had a lot of fun.

Here are some photos of the process. Looking at them again makes me feel much warmer.

Here, I'm preheating the crucible outside the hottest part of the fire. I also warmed my tongs in this way and rotated the crucible periodically until I was sufficiently satisfied it was preheated and moisture-free.

I was melting a variety of metals - silicon bronze, pure copper, and the zinc-laden yellow stuff, brass. I wore a ventilator with fume-proof filters since I am paranoid about zinc intoxication, and rightfully so I think, as it's very dangerous. I drank plenty of milk before and after this process, which sounds like an old wives tale, but it allegedly helps the body filter out the zinc and other metals.

Putting on my Fire Boots, or moving the crucible around, my memory is fuzzy.

Here, the metal is starting to melt and get a slick appearance.

My patented saucepan mold-holder. 

Here's the failed pour into the failed clay mold. You can tell from the photo even that the metal was too cool to pour. It's more the consistency of honey at this point, and it should be much less viscous. Live and learn.

Here's the result of the failed pour. Not much of a bolster, but bright hot metal is always pretty to look at.

And here's the only survivor, the pendant, after a little cleanup. Despite its simplicity and unfinished character, I think its a pretty neat, charming little object, and I had fun making it.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Fjording Around

Some photos from my honeymoon in Norway with my favorite person in the whole world, my wife, Amber.