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Pointy Things: An Introduction

I am a smith at a renaissance faire. When I'm there, I mostly do ornamental ironwork and fun little things I can make in an hour or so. snakes, bottle openers, coat hooks, belt knives, etc. But inevitably people ask me about swords. It's just as well... my fascination with blades and the mystique surrounding them is what got me in to metalworking in the first place, so I'm in a pretty okay position to answer.
I never get tired of talking about pointy things. There are a lot of questions people have about them, and there are many more people who are terribly misinformed on the subject.
Myths about swords have existed for as long as pointy things have been around. It makes sense... Virtually every culture that developed the blade considered it a holy symbol, an extension of an archetype that was part of the very structure of reality. The blade has tremendous power, explicit and inherent, and has become so ingrained in our unconscious mind that we dwell on the idea of the thing, even when the reality is largely obsolete. There are many people who are fascinated by this archetype, and learn what they can about it. But there's a lot of myth and misinformation around swords that obstructs a would-be scholar's progress. This spurious data is then propagated further, to the point where it seems that the majority of common knowledge on the subject is entirely apocryphal. As many who are strangely fascinated by the archetype of the sword, are those who think such fascination silly, even childish. As something so inherently part of human civilization and history the world over, I believe such interest could never be rationally discouraged. It's not geeky (okay, it is, a little...), It's simply in our nature.
Blades are a subject I've been obsessed with for the majority of my life. As a youth, I was reading scholarly treatises on the subject as fast as I could find them. As a smith, I've had the humble honor of taking classes with renown blademakers such as Michael Bell (http://www.dragonflyforge.com) and Don Fogg (http://www.dfoggknives.com).
What will (hopefully) follow are a series of posts about swords from around the world. keep in mind that I'm not a professional, just an educated layman, so I'm bound to get things wrong. feel free to comment with with corrections, questions, what have you. I'm going to try to turn this into a weekly thing, focusing on the history, forging, and usage, and culture surrounding of all kinds of blades.

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Random: I miss you here. I wish we both posted to LJ more. ;p

February 2010

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