For the last 2 weeks SSW has been running the second instalment of our From Turf to Tools project. The project revolves working with master blacksmith and all round ancient dude Darrell Markewitz in the building of Pictish style smelting furnaces for processing ore to create iron. The project has been experimental in nature. We have been attempting to us peat as a fuel and local ore as our base material.
The First experiment, using local ore and charcoal as a fuel produced a small amount of usable iron (called a bloom) with what appears to be a high manganese content we intend to use this material to create a small skinning knife, if possible, that traditionally would have been used to process hides to make leather for bellows. The bloom itself appears to be fractured and brittle, which will make it difficult to compact and forge.
The Second smelting was purely experimental. We used a high iron content ore as our base material, to give us the best chance of creating a bloom and peat as our fuel. We were able to produce a very small bloom. The inability of the peat to give us a high enough temperature resulted in the production of a very small amount of usable iron and an incredibly iron rich slag.
Reflecting on this we think that this was mainly due to the moisture content of the peat. We have plans to modify the furnace and run further experiments.
The Third Smelting was run as a training exercise where the SSW technicians ran the furnace. So with Darrell hovering, we ran the furnace using very high iron content taconite as our base along side some of the iron rich slag from the previous smelt and charcoal as our fuel. Great teaching resulted in a 9kg bloom of super quality, high carbon tool grade metal (SSW tech iron for short!)
We are now moving more into creating objects from the material produced from these three smelts and with our new knowledge base are looking to run more smelts before the end of the year.
TUFT TO TOOLS 2014 :
TURF TO TOOLS 2016 : https://scottishsculptureworkshop.wordpress.com/2016/08/25/turf-to-tools-2016/