Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Mostly recovered

From Medieval Fair, that is. It usually takes a few days. It usually goes like this:
Thursday, take the big stuff down to the site. That means the forge, stump, anvil, toolbox, coal and water buckets, and assorted steel barstock(I should have a picture of the setup, I'll post it when I can). Find my spot, get it all unloaded and secured, then go see people I haven't seen for a while and lend a hand if I can. After I head home, get some edibles and drinks together for the next day. I drink a lot of iced tea and water these days.

Friday, take the stuff I've got made and the ice chest and such and set up for the day. Friday is School Day, and usually has enough rug rats running loose to make me long for a taser. Most aren't too bad, but some are a genuine pain in the ass. I've got a couple of people who help me out; necessary, because there's no way I can run the forge and watch the table at the same time. So I spend a large part of the day heating and hammering and talking. End of the day, secure the tools and pack the small stuff into the truck.

Saturday & Sunday are busy. Estimates of the crowd for last year were about 300,000 over the three days, and at times I felt like I'd talked to at least 1/4 of them. End of the day Sunday means pack it all up, load it all up, clean up, and go home. As Sunday progressed it started clouding up, and I thought "Crap, if it's going to rain tonight I've got to unload the big stuff TONIGHT!" Happily, just clouds, and a friend helped me unload and put away the stuff Monday.

I love doing this fair. I always wind up sunburned and/or half-frozen, dead tired, and dirty enough to make think about hosing myself off before I go in to the shower. Some people annoy the hell out of me- not just kids- and I'm thirsty enough to drain a pitcher all by myself. But...

I really like demonstrating this stuff. I like showing how things were done, and in some cases still are. I like showing the kinds of things that can be done with fire and tools and metal. I like answering questions about it, and the history connected with it. And I really like it when Grandma or Granpa or the parents come by with the kids and say "I used to/your Grandpa used to/your uncle used to do this on the farm/ranch". I like seeing the eyes of the kids when they hear that, and-sometimes- the look when someone says 'those things are still out in/behind the barn'.

I like taking a piece of spring, turning it into a flint striker, and using a piece of flint to throw sparks as some kids watch. I like showing how someone can take a piece of rusty crap, put some work into it, and create a gleaming blade, or a new tool for the forge or something else.

Weather, for the first weekend of April can run anywhere from 80 degrees and blowing like hell, to 30's and blowing-and sometimes sleeting or snowing- to just beautiful. And sometimes it can go damn near from one extreme to the other in that three days. A couple of times I've spent the first day mostly turning out tent stakes- heavy ones- to keep tents from blowing away. I've had people come by with 'can you make this?' or 'can you fix this?' on all kinds of things. I've given 'how to get started' lectures to I have no idea how many people, everything from what books you can read to where to get coal and tools to how to find/put together a forge and anvil. And except for the occasional jerk, I enjoy all of it. To the point of dehydrating or blistering because I don't take rest breaks when I should("You need to rest." "I know, but I'm supposed to be demonstrating!" "Take a break and a drink, you idiot.")

I don't think I could do the full Fair-circuit, I like living in one place too much. But I can understand the attraction of it.

More on this nonsense later, I just noticed I need to put something on a burn.

1 comment:

Bane said...

Is there a single book ('Smithing For Dummies'?) where one could find good start to finish instructions on what you need and how to work metal?

Two other things I'd like to learn before I die is how to make arrows, and how to chip stone tools and weapons.