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witches cauldron


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I have been asked to make a cauldron for a herbalist in time for samhien (all hallows eve), and am keen to make something water/soup tight without resorting to modern welding techniques.have seen a nice one built out of dished plates riveted together (a bit like an armadillo). reckon i can work out a pattern, but wanting to know if any one has, or knows of anyone who has made one, any tips? the other option isa to dish out of sheet, but ones i've seen using this method look a little bit like woks to me.
any ideas????? Lillith

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Well if you are doing a single piece one don't dish the last inch or so of the blank. it will curve up and draw the top inward so as to be un-wok-like.

Early medieval multipiece cauldrons were rivited but did not hold water until you season them closed. (boiling oatmeal is a favorite). You could also tin the inside that would work to help seal it and make it a bit more food friendly. Note that tinning would have to be done *BEFORE* the inside gets messed up with food.

Hand forged multigallon cauldrons often go for $250+ I hope you know what you are getting yourself into!

Another tip: The curved surfaces make great parabolic IR emitters and it seems it's always has you holding hand as the focal point---make sure you wear a good glove on that hand!

A good dishing hammer for working way inside a cauldron can be made from a RR bolt (not a spike; a dome headed RR bolt. Slit and drift the screw thread end for a hammer handle and it works better if the bolt is bent slightly to follow the curve of your swing. Oxy Tank bottoms make a good dishing form and remember you are trying to work the unsupported metal not the part that's resting on the metal of the form.

When heating with a solid fuel forge a couple of pieces of coke or charcoal placed inside the piece right over the area you want to work next will help to speed and localize the heat.

Don't leave dents they will scale through and leave holes..

Yes I have done a couple of these and have just accepted a couple more to do before next *August* loud, tedious, time consuming they are

Edited by ThomasPowers
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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Lillith,

I am currently trying to make a pot based on a 10th century Viking find (your so called armadillo style).

The picture I am working from of the original is not the best. (hopefully image one I uploaded).

I experimented with heavy paper first in an attempt to get the basic shape of the plates. (Images 2 is a template and image 3 shows the overlap of material for riveting)

Thus far it has been more like armor making than blacksmithing, but I will eventually get it into the fire to both anneal and refine the shape (particularly when it comes to rolling the top edge over).

Image 4 is where I am up to - hopefully you can see where I am starting to sink the overlapping material so that the inside becomes quite smooth at the joints.

And yes we will be using this to cook medieval food when we go away on weekends dressed up and camping like Vikings - what can I say - family hobbies.

Anyway good luck in making your cauldron - post some pics on the way.






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Hi Goldstock,
To be honest I am unsure what you are asking regarding a "3D format" - does this mean a CAD set of drawings or files or an actual 3D object? (If it is CAD then I can't help) - if something other perhaps I can assist.

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At this stage the bottom is not completed. I have in mind to dish out a circle plate (about the size of a dinner plate) to insert and rivet as the bottom (interpretation of the museum's picture).

I am sure the overall pot will leak, "like a sieve", until seasoned using a method similar to that described by Thomas above (oatmeal) - but I will enjoy the journey of discovery along the way.

When I have photos of the bottom I will share (along with the seasoning attempts).

Needless to say it would leak slightly faster than a sieve as it is 'today' - without a bottom.


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I hope you managed to get your piece done by last weekend .sounds like a nice project .I think cauldron are wonderful things and I had not read about the seasoning of them although it makes sense (much like curing a leaking radiator with mustard powder) .Tinning is a great way of sealing them up but make sure you get lead free tinning past that is suitable for drinking water .the joins have to be pretty tight to get tin to flow by capilary action between the plates .

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I, too apologize for not seeing this prior to Samhain.

I found this at a British site that appears to be Pagan and historical reenactment focused.


Typically, these would have been made of bronze or copper, but iron wouldn't necessarily be out of the question as long as it was properly seasoned (not that food safety was a huge issue back then)

As an armourer (I'm in the SCA), I agree with what Thomas said about getting/making a good dishing hammer. for smallish pieces, I have a commercial tack hammer that I've rounded the face on that works quite well for small, tight spaces. It doesn't weigh a lot (maybe 8 ounces) so it doesn't *move* a lot of metal, but she does a pretty good job with patience.

From a Pagan Standpoint, I would probably make five panels (to represent the Elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit), and perhaps cut a sigil in the "bowl" section, as a nice touch. The five panels might be easier to work with for size and shaping as well. :D

I think I'll give one of these a shot too. I need a new cook pot for SCA use...lol


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There are quite a number of these pots extant (well pieces of them) that were done from iron so it wasn't a rare version of them at all.

Note that iron is less of a food safety issue than copper or bronze is; but well seasoned no problem either way.

How about repousee a sigil for each panel? 4 side panels and perhaps "spirit" as the bowl to "hold" them all?

Thomas, (not pagan or neopagan but I can work with symbolism...)

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Thomas, I heard a definition of pagan as one living in the country worshiping the old gods and a neo pagan as one living in the city trying to worship the old gods as opposed to the new gods. Found it odd to be called a neo pagan by an atheist, who believes in no god, to me, who believes in one God. Any way that would be a nice looking pot. I think the one in the above post #11 would be fairly easy to do even with minimal tools.

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Well I used to work with a lot of Hindu's, Sikh, animist, etc folks who's traditions went back 100 generations or more in their families and have been in the SCA 30+ years so the differentiation of old and new is pretty apparent. (Had one fellow I used to work with *horrified* when he learned that we often camped with a couple who were high priest/priestess in a neo-pagan religion. I told him that sometimes the best thing a person can do is to show members of another religion that you can be christian and not a jerk---God will sort it all out in the end.)

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