Cut down to Size

I love idiomsrapier. They often have very wonderful beginnings that we are not aware of.

The idiom “Cut down to size” is exactly one of those idioms.

And it refers to the length of a rapier. Or more accurately a rapier that is too long!

In 16th and 17th century London rapiers were very popular. And men would wear them on the streets. But they got to the point where they were getting too long and they were a danger to passers by and visitors.

So, when entering London, men wielding swords would either have to turn them in or have them “cut down to size”.

 

 

 

 

Walking the Dogs and Finding a polearm!

Well! Got an email from a web visitor. (Chris) who was walking his dogs when he stumbled upon this weapon. It was a long polearm but the pole was broken in half and the other half was rotted. So, it must have been there for quite some time! My guess though is that it was there for a few years, not a few hundred! The cut and shape of it lead me to believe it is relatively modern. But…. if you have some experience with polearms and can shed light on this weapon please message me!!

And this was found in Ireland in the Cork/Waterford area. Nearby is a town called called Youghal.  And people have been speculating that this could be from the Cromwell era because he occupied this town for many years.

Chris will be sending along a better pic of the markings on it.

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Had a wonderful spring day setting up a beehive

It was a beautiful spring day and I got a call from a friend. The shipment of bees had come in and she went and picked them up! Yay! So, today we set up the new beehive.

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Let me tell you a little bit about setting up a beehive. It is an easy thing. And if you want to learn more about it I have a tutorial on my website right here. How to set up a beehive.

It all starts out by buying three pounds of bees and a queen! Yup, that’s how it is typically done. You buy it from a company and at some time in the spring they will contact you to let you know your bees are ready for pickup! The exact days will vary based on the bees, the queen and the weather.  This thing you get with the bees and the queen is called a  Nuc.

That screened box is the Nuc.

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Inside that is a smaller cage with the queen locked in. That is to protect her and to allow the bees to get used to her. You take a cork out of that cage to allow them access to her.

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So, Now you have free bees and soon to be free queen. You put these in your hive and put it all together. Voila! You have a beehive. There is a bit more to do, but not a whole lot. The bees do most everything for you.

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Having some fun with a secret project

This is a fairly ambitious project and it is going to be an important part of my youtube channel. ANd I am having a whole lot of fun with it.  It is a Wizard’s Lair video studio that I am building in my house. We have most of the major work done and now we are working on the furnishings.  Here are a few pics of the progress.

 

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Blacksmithing and Stamp Collecting

After a 30 year hiatus I have finally returned to stamp collecting. When I was a kid and teen I used to love the hobby. It was something I really enjoyed. But life got in the way. Now that I am enjoying it again there are some differences. The first difference being that I have the money to buy stamps! lol! good feeling to not have to figure out how to spend ten dollars for a packet of stamps. Back then it was a big deal.

The second difference now is that I am finding all these wonderful overlaps between stamp collecting and the rest of my pursuits. For example, there is one stamp in the United States collection of stamps about Blacksmithing. Yup! There is one. And I have it!

 

blacksmith-stamp-soloIt was issued in 1977, which was right around the time I was actively stamp collecting. So, I probably had it then too. I just don’t remember because blacksmithing wasn’t one of the things I did as a kid.

But I am glad to have it now.

 

 

It is part of a set of four stamps issued that year. The four stamps were called “Skilled Hands for Independence”. And they commemorate the skills that helped us achieve our independence. The other three stamps were seamstress, wheelwright and leatherworker.

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A quick blurb about the stamp is that the blacksmith shod horses and constructed metal fittings for the cannons. Kind of cool 🙂

Anyway, It just is one of those wonderful things about stamp collecting. It isn’t just about the stamps it is also about the history of the United States and the things that the stamps commemorate.

 

 

 

Getting the Hobbits to Make things

When I was a kid growing up in the 1970’s we made things. That is what my friends and I did for fun. Since that decade the world has changed a whole lot. Computers, internet, cellphones, online movies and many other things absorb a lot of our time and attention. While these things are all very wonderful, they have replaced some of the simpler things in life like the art and craft of making things.

Kids in today’s world have a whole lot of instant options vying for their attention and every parent or grandparent knows that it can sometimes be difficult to pull the kids away from an electronic device and get them to do something different. But, rather than fight the technology we can co-opt it a bit by understanding and tapping into what interests them.

And the newly released hobbit movie is a great opportunity for this. What kid isn’t excited about the hobbit book and or the movies? And what kid wouldn’t want to have the iconic Sting sword from the movies?

A transformation occurs when a child makes something. He or she crosses the line from a consumer being entertained to a creator. His imagination is ignited. He no longer watching Frodo carry the sword, he made the sword himself and carries it off to fight Smaug himself.

And this time making something is a great opportunity to spend simple time together talking and collaborating on a project. So, if you are looking for a reason to get the kids away from the television think about using a movie or a video game as the catalyst. Here are some suggestions from the Hobbit movies of inexpensive projects that you might want to make with a child.

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Sting- the glowing sword that Frodo and Bilbo carry. – You can even use the non-toxic fluid in a glow stick to make your Sting glow.

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The Dwarven Windlass – This is a unique type of catapult that is used to bring down the dragon Smaug. You can make your Windlass shoot straws or cotton swabs.

Our Merry band of Dwarves all carry unique weapons from a hammer to a bow, slingshot and polearm. These are all very fun projects that can be made cheaply with foamboard and a broomstick or dowel.

And the list of possibilities is endless. We don’t have to choose swords and weapons. The hobbit movies also offer us lots of other options. You can also make a hobbit terrarium complete with hobbit hole and live plants. This combines a child’s interest in hobbits and in gardening. It is a nice synthesis of subjects that gives us the opportunity to make something.

HobbitTerrariumComplete_lAll of this applies not only to the Hobbit movie but it also applies to video games. If your son or daughter has a favorite video game you can certainly find something within the game that the child would like to make. So, with a just a few questions you can target in on something that your child or grandchild might like to make and turn it into a wonderful Saturday afternoon project.

 

Dreams of a knightly life

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About a year ago the Higgins Armory Museum (In Worcester Massachusetts) closed its doors for good.  What a shame.  They had such a beautiful collection of weapons and armor. I wrote about my trip there on my website here. I also have pictures: http://medieval.stormthecastle.com/higgins-armory-of-weapons-and-armor.htm

Well, a company in London was assigned to auction off the assets. And I got on their mailing list. Once they got everything sorted and figured out they put together an auction and sent me an auction list complete with pictures, estimated prices and the days of the auction.

Of course lots and lots of things caught my eye. There was so much good stuff going up for auction. But two things caught my eye in particular. Stained Glass Windows. (They are both in this post).

And I thought to myself “Some people live an enchanted life, unlike the most of us”.

This is what I mean.

stained-glass-higgins-2There are people out there that would say. “Hmmmm…. I love these two stained glass windows going up for auction at a famous London Auction House. Let’s fly out to London for a few days, go to the auction, bid on those windows, spend a few of days experiencing Great Britain then come back – stained glass windows in hand.”

Some people have that capability in their lives. There is a flexibility that comes with having money. It isn’t just about buying things. It is more about being able to do and experience what is right in your life.

This is how a knight lives. He masters the times that he lives in. He experiences a life full of wonderful experiences. He sees a goal and goes and gets it -Slaying any dragons that need slaying.

 

Mild Winter perfect for a few extra blacksmithing projects

Well, December and the first few days of January have been unseasonably warm and I am very grateful for that.  Partially because it is quite unexpected and quite welcome. But also because it has given me a few extra days at the forge – Two easy knives

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A railroad spike throwing axe – This is a fun one with some good basic blacksmithing lessons in it, foremost of which is how to pierce an irregular shaped hole in hot steel.

 

 

 

 

 

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The second project is how to make a nice looking knife out of a piece of rebar. In this tutorial I show you a bit about turning metal.erce an oblong hole in steel.

 

 

 

two-man-hammerFinally, I have started but have not yet finished a two man job. We are turning a sledge hammer into an axe. Takes some pretty beefy moving of hot steel to shape this one.

So, been having a lot of fun at the forge. And hoping the weather will hold out for a while longer.

If you are interested in the art of blacksmithing you might want to check out my tutorials right here: The Art of Blacksmithing

 

 

 

Saving a Castle

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In the grand scheme and time line of countries and castles America isn’t that old. There are castles in Europe and Asia that laugh when we talk about things on a scale of a few decades or maybe a century.  Yet, a hundred and fifteen years can be considered a long time – long enough for a castle to have a full life, wane then fall into disrepair. And this is what happened to a small castle in New Hampshire called Kimball castle. 

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ok two years for the president of the Concord and Montreal Railroad to build and it was completed in 1899. And it stayed in the Kimball family until 1960 when the last remaining heir died leaving it to a charitable foundation with the intent of it becoming a nature preserve. The preserve never happened and time slowly, but predicatably, took it’s toll on the building.

Today

I did some research on the castle and what I can tell is that it is currently for sale and the asking price is $799,000.00.  But I haven’t actually talked to anyone about that. It may have changed.

Anyhoo, wouldn’t this be a wonderful project? To take this actual old castle and breathe life back into it? You know it and the stone walls surrounding it was all actually buillt by 100 Italian stone masons! Kind of cool.

It is only about 150 miles from where I live and I have given some thought to this being a big thing in my life but to be honest it is too small! Yup, too small for me. After all the Big castles I have visited in the world I just can’t see myself in this one. It is quaint and cozy but just too cramped!

Okay! Interested in learning more about the castle and the movement to save it? Check out the fa

cebook page about it right here: Save Kimball Castle  You can join the group and to learn more about this undertaking to save the castle contact Darnell through the group. Here is a picture that she sent me:

You can see more pictures of the castle and learn more about it on my website right here:

Medieval Castles and Kimball Castle

Moonlight Meadery

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I spent last weekend on a mini vacation with family. We rented a chalet in New Hampshire and made the drive up there. On the way, just as we crossed the border into NH we stopped at the border liquor store. They sell a lot of stuff there because NH is tax free. So, a lot of people make the trip to save on taxes.

I had seen some things about a new Meadery in New Hamshire called “Moonlight Meadery”. So I figured that they might carry some of this mead in the NH Liquor store. ANd sure enough they did! There was a selection of their mead tucked in a corner of the store.

I was surprised to see that the bottles were the half size 375 ml bottles but after tasting it I understood why. Let me explain.

Moonlight meadery has made some really good decisions about mead and what their mead should be. They are dessert wines. Not to be had in large amounts. More of an aperitif. Something sweet to be enjoyed slowly and in smaller doses.

And… they have captured something really important when it comes to mead.  The ancient tradition of the honeymoon gifting. Yes… romance and love. This is what mead is all about. Or what it used to be about.

You see, in days of yore a newly married couple was given enough mead to last them a month. And this is where the term “honeymoon” comes from. The honey mead that was gifted.

Moonlight meadery has stayed true to that tradition and made their mead sweet, delicious and to be consumed in smaller amounts. Thus the smaller bottle.

Just the names are a clue to this. Here are some of the meads that they make:

Sensual, Je’ taime, First Dance, Slow Dance, Embrace, Flame and Wild!

Yup! Great names and great meads that recapture what mead used to be all about. Love and Romance 🙂

So, even though I drank my meads alone there still is hope for me! LOL

I bought both their Apple Pie and their Sensual and enjoyed them both.

If you are new to Mead I recommend giving this meadery a try. Particularly if you want something for you and your significant other to experience together.

Here is a link to their website if you want to give them a look: Moonlight Meadery