Monday, 13 March 2017

Shaping Bronze



Don’t splash,

Don’t spill,
Contain the excitement as the crucible lifts,
A magma pool in a mug.
I understand Incandescence now.

Shaped in sand and oil,
Pressed and hammered,
Malleted into form
And bound,
A dungeon for a trickle of dragon blood,
Or maybe a chalice to receive the waters of the sun.

It’s over in a moment.
A long, slow pulsing burn,
Sighing bellows,
Well-worked muscles.
A long, slow melt,
A long, slow gathering of hope,
The fierce intention of ceremony in this.
Concentrated consideration.
Listen to the hot breathing of leather lungs.

Charcoal glows,
Building heat upon heat,
It must build, it must grow,
The heat must hold
To incubate an infant sun.
We know what we are doing,
Well taught.
The promise held and guided.
We are told, informed,
Sensible 21st century people, us,
And we can feel the wonder,
Sense the enchantment,
The sheer excitement of metal melting.

We pour our molten bronze
A brief libation to Vulcan, to Hephaestus
To the Dwarves who shaped the Brisingamen
To Goibniu in the Hollow Hills
To Wayland in his Smithy
No wonder blacksmiths became special people.

And in seconds,
We’ve poured.
Fire drawn into metal.
We’ve cracked the mould.
We’ve cooled the bronze,
And in seconds,
It lies.
Treasure and glory and wonder,
In our hands.

fresh from its mould

We made bronze axes!
A workshop at the Dove Valley Centre with James Dilley and Sally-Ann Spence (with detours into dung beetles, which is really another story for a different day)
I could have written up a sensible text but the experience was such an emotional one, I thought I’d just post the piece above!

Comments from participants follow
I was so excited to find out about this event and it has exceeded my expectations

I’m fascinated by prehistory and couldn’t miss the opportunity to create my own artefact and sounded like fun.

At the beginning:
Welcomed, Interested, Excited, Curious, Happy but also Cold and Wet.

By the end:

Ecstatic, Proud, Exhilarated, Thrilled, Fulfilled and Tired.

Great setting and food. Should do more of this sort of thing.

And a thousand thanks to:
James Dilley
Sally-Ann Spence
Dove Valley Centre who hosted us so hospitably
Karen Merifield for the participants' feedback
And Buxton Museum’s Collections in the Landscape project who got it all going in the first place! You can find out more Collections workshops either on their blog or follow the links below for this blog

Dove Valley Centre