Steampunk Mythology and the Black in Blacksmith
A smith is a person that makes things using a hammer and fire. A silver smith takes a lump of silver and using a hammer, and heating the lump when it needs softening, to make things out of silver.
A silver worker is all the others that make things out of silver like jewelers, silver-caster or foundry men.
A silver smith will make you a spoon by hammering a lump of silver into the shape of the spoon, Then he will have his apprentice polish it up.
A silver worker will cast you a spoon and have his apprentice polish it up for you.
Both can engrave the work, chase the work, incise the work.
A Blacksmith is something special. Maybe you have heard about the effect of cold iron against magic and magical beings.
Why do they call them Blacksmiths? It’s not because of the soot, or the black scale that flakes of the surface of heated iron. They’re called Blacksmiths because if you take an piece of ancient iron, often called wrought or puddled iron, and bend it the metal will come apart in layers, or sheets. You’ll ruin it if you bend it cold. It takes experience and knowledge gained from generations of smiths, to know how much to heat the iron before you can bend it. You can ruin wrought iron if you heat it too hot. Red-short is the condition where you heat a piece of metal to red hot and bend or hammer it and it crumbles or breaks. A good smith can tell or determine if a piece of iron will red-short. It will take years for someone to figure this out by trail and error. Just watching a Blacksmith will not clue you into the secrets of work iron.
You can still find on ebay the ends of wrought iron bars that have been forged into the head of a dragon. The makers of the iron did this to show that the iron was malleable and not prone to red-short.
Steel can be made from wrought iron by hammering the carbon and impurities out of the iron. Over half (often three quarters or more) of the iron you start with will be wasted as scale and rust by the time the iron becomes steel.
Iron (and steel) can be welded by heating it to less than its melting temperature and hammering two pieces together. The temperature has to be just right, not too hot or too cold. The smith can not hit the metal too hard or the pieces will spring apart even if they were partially welded. The Blacksmith will also use a mixture of sand, seashells, leaves, borax, and other things to aid the welding of the metal.
A Blacksmith uses fire. Fire that is often made with coal that has lots of sulfur (brimstone) in it. He works in the shade so he can see the color of the heating metal so he knows when it is ready to be bent or welded. He uses concoctions to make the iron weld together. Not just anyone can bend wrought iron like you can modern steel. You have to know the right temperature, the right way to make a fire, how hard to hit the hot metal.
So a Blacksmith uses brimstone, works in the dark not in sunlight, uses potions and knows things that aren’t common knowledge. He works the Black arts. He’s a magic maker that impresses his will on iron to make it do what he wants it to. He is a master of the Black arts, he is a Blacksmith.
Stay strong, write on, and go watch a good Blacksmith, there’s more going on than you can see.
Professor Hyram Voltage
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