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October 2008
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corvi [userpic]
Clack, clack, clack

I'd bought gfish a printing press as a Christmas gift. It's over a hundred years old, and spent the last eighty or so sitting in a barn getting rusty. Self serving gift - someone, and I have no idea who, of course, will have to help him restore it. So Thursday we went and rented a truck, and wandered to the shipping depo to pick up our twelve hundred pounds of printing press. Shipping has been an adventure; I've never had to deal with a freight company before.

Of course, I ran off to Palo Alto for a conference Thursday, leaving gfish, tfabric, and xmurf to try to figure out how to move twelve hundred pounds of metal off the truck and into the garage. Twelve hundred pounds of metal that started up above their heads. Mmmm, tasty tasty danger. I'm such a helpful co-conspirator, no? :)

Still having trouble getting over how very pretty it is.

But glad it's post indutrial-revolution enough to have, say, standardized bolt sizes. :)

A word on a page is where type and ink and paper come together, right? It's a touch, a gesture, a motion. I was paging through a dictionary this morning, and suddenly all the little black words in their neat lines were motion instead of material. Dizzying. This is what having access to a printing press does to you, I guess.

When I first started metal-working, I stopped seeing metal objects as flat surfaces that bounced light, like polygons in computer animation. It had become well and truly real to me; I know its touch, its song, the way scale flakes in pearl-gray eggshell curves out of iron, the wash of tempering colors gold scarlet indigo on a blade held in the flames, the high clear C of a true hit with the blacksmith's hammer.

I am so very much looking forward to restoring the press.


"Sing" is probably too strong a word. I do hum, a lot. The metal makes different notes as it cools, and as I'm usually making a blade of one sort or another, I'm normally working with a very high carbon steel, very brittle. Singing along with it is a very instinctive (for me; I think gfish does this all kinaesthetically) way to keep track of when it's so cold I don't want to hit it for fear of putting stress in the blade.

It's also useful when one is bending metal around the anvil; I'm not all that good at figuring out what angle I want to swing the hammer at, but I always know what note I want, and I can tell how far off I am.

Have you ever worked with pure tin (or even alloys with a very high tin content)? It actually cries when you hit it or bend it; it's a very squeaky metal in general. You could have your own little choir.

No... That sounds odd and unsettling. :)

That's weird and unsettling and only partly why I collect tin. Have you ever read about tin disease? Houses in England would actually catch it from neighboring houses, as the different crystal structure would trigger the transformation of adjacent houses' roofing material.

That's f'in cool! Whoa.

I've heard of that ... fascinating, isn't it? Rather like the Vonnegut novel about a more-stable ice molecule.

That was a great book. Ice-9, wasn't it? Pity my dog ate my copy of the book...

Yes, Ice-9 is the substance ... thanks! ... and Cat's Cradle, the tale.

(Ate the book? I hate when they do that! though I've never had a dog with much appetite for books, after the first few months at least. Shoes, they're another story.)

How big is your anvil?

Yum! Functional sculpture ... all ready for the Newsletter of the Apocalypse. Enjoy!

(Fascinated by your discussion above about the song of steel (et allium ~ or perhaps, et aluminum?); wish I were able to contribute!

If you find yourself in Seattle, drop me a line. I'd be glad to teach you bladesmithing, or at least get you started. The more people who know, the better the universe is.

That would be fun! Thank you. If I'm ever on that side of the continent, I'll keep you in mind.