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Traditional blackmsithing.

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Shall we toss in connotation as well as denotation?  In my experience many people who use the term "traditional" are using it to exclude the work of other people who do not meet their criteria.  However many times what they believe is "historical" is actually an amalgam of popular culture from movies, TV shows, books and the internet.

For instance we know women worked in Medieval blacksmith shops---because there were guild rules stating that they only could work in the smithies of their Father, Brother or Husband.  Generally you only make rules for problems you are experiencing...So an earlier post about women in the craft is actually ahistorical; but so was the reference in "A Knight's Tale" (Guilds had quite a lot of power to squash interlopers. An  example is mentioned in "A History of Western Technology", MIT Press about a red metal turner in Nuremberg that kept inventing better metal lathes against the will of his guild...)

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50 minutes ago, gote said:

Words that are loaded enough to be used in this way usually has several meanings. Of course some meanings are more common than others but since we are talking about spoken languages mot programming languages all meanings can be valid in certain contexts. The speaker really has the right to choose. What would happen to literature if the author must chose his words after a standard. 1984 is long past but the era may still be in front of us.

You're quite right, @gote, although I would say that the speaker/writer has the absolute right and freedom to choose within the range of standard (i.e., commonly understood and practically agreed-upon) meanings, but that while they have the further right to express what they mean through a non-standard usage, they have thereby imposed upon themselves an obligation to make that meaning clear, especially in cases where they are using one of those words (like "Traditional") that need a context (as you rightly pointed out above).

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Agree absolutely. However, we sometimes encounter words that are not generally known but "rediscovered" by authors and public. My English is not good enough to give Engish examples but there are many Swedish words current in my youth and used by good authors which are unknown to my children not to talk about my grandchildren. One reversal is that some Swedish terrestial orchids used to be called "Nyckelblomster" (Key flowers because of the shape of the lip. Same word in German Schlüsselblume). However, a famous Swedish poet ( Erik Karlfeldt (Nobel prize)) referred to them as "Yxne" which was a very local name but fitted a poem. Now they seem to be called yxne by everybody. A local forgotten name is replacing the "standardl" one. Of course, as you write, Karlfeldt made it quite clear by context that a rare flower was meant.    

Thomas. I am always amazed at your erudition I rise my hat (when I get it bak from where I mislaid it) and bow deeply.

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Then of course you get the issue of ideological language and coinages. My favorite example of the former was the proposal to replace "lieutenant" (which was seen as having an "unacceptable" non-Anglo-Saxon derivation) with "steadholder", which is identical in literal meaning, but which few would recognize as denoting a particular military rank or function. My favorite example of the latter is my own "homofoliate" (from the "homo-" = "same" and "folio" = "leaf" or "page", thus "on the same page"), which has the advantage of being both an adjective ("in the state of being on the same page") and a verb ("to get on the same page"), while the process of becoming homofoliate could be called "homofoliation".

In both of these examples, however, the words in question are made from roots with agreed-upon and widely understood definitions, and thus one could tease out their meaning from those roots and the context of their usage without requiring authorial explanation.

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Here in the USA we also see words that have nothing to do with popular hot topics getting "banned" because of people making bad assumptions about them and not being competent to look them up and allow them to be used correctly. They are evidently competent to make a big stink about them in the Media. (I had hoped the Media would be for the expansion of the common vocabulary not it's narrowing; instead they channel Diana Moon Glampers!)

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On 8/9/2017 at 6:46 AM, ThomasPowers said:

(already on it JHCC)

Traditional means you have at least 3 to 5 people in your shop working for the smith.  Having only 1 person doing all the work is *MODERN* *MODERN* *MODERN*!

Many people use traditional to mean no power tools ignoring the fact that having strikers to assist hammering and for other tasks goes back all the way to the beginning of smithing.  (You can see examples in the Shire Book "Egyptian Metalworking and Tools") The earliest power hammer I've seen good documentation on predates the year 1000, (Medieval Technology Conference, Penn State.)  So the powerhammer predates the use of coal in smithing for instance...

Or I guess you could use traditional to mean you only work with real wrought iron, the "traditional" material of the smith. Mild steel, a product of the Bessemer/Kelly process and then the open hearth, BOF, etc, dates to the mid 1850s for Bessemer and books written 35 years later were still talking about the "new" material and how it worked different from what they were used to. The Great Depression marked the common end of use wrought iron as it was more expensive to make...

Or you could mean you work only with charcoal as fuel as it has 2000+ years of being used for forging versus less than 1000 for using coal...

Or you use two single action bellows with a thrall to work them...

So in reality "working traditionally" really only tends to mean "I'm doing it right and everyone else is doing it wrong!"---There was a discussion once about "true path" blacksmithing to which a smith replied that he was a "twisted path" smith; and ever after I have used that term to refer to my work as well.

You can be a truly great smith and not need to have studied the history of the craft; but only how to use modern materials and techniques.  Far better to be that way than to mislead people making claims about how things were done that come from Hollywood, video games and fantasy books...

 

if you look at what is sold in the shops this days, you will see why someone would call his work traditional blacksmithing. 99% of lamps, gates, outdoor furniture, beds with some attempt at shaping them in scrolls, are made with hebo or similar machine and have never been heated, all worked cold and slapped together with bad electric welds that still have the spatter under the paint. 

I think that whoever sells his work as traditional blacksmith work, is simply attempting to differentiate forged from cold metal work and has no intention of going into intricate definitions or pretense of perfection. 

Sure, one can speculate ad libitum what constitutes traditional and this thread is proof of it. If to warrant the title of traditional one must use coal and can not use gas, I say pull the other one. What about steel? or we must use wrought iron or bust? The list goes on and it becomes immediately rather obvious that one can do a piece of art, forged in a way that the masters of 300 years ago would be proud, and use modern steel, gas forge, air power hammer and a Hofi hammer cast with modern methods. 

I am positive that the name "traditional" is used simply to say forged in fire and not twisted by a machine in India. That is my take :)

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In a thousand years someone will dig up my anvil, tools and propane forge...then they will find my creaky old bones laying against my slack tub with the fingers of my left hand firmly wrapped around a hammer. Will I have become an ancient traditional blacksmith that people spend inordinate amounts of time and energy to exactly emulate? Will they learn to forge left-handed because that was how it was done traditionally, with my example as proof? I think we often misinterpret and over interpret “traditional” because our collective memories are so short. We think of the Vikings as old or traditional when they are, in relation to the span of human history, likely as "modern" as us or any generation in between. Innovation and change are more traditional than a snapshot in time that we decide was the way things were done "traditionally".

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Traditional? Like The Blacksmith (no that is not a typo) selling authentic period correct hand made MIG welded squirrel cookers at ACW re-enactments traditional?

Or the many, many folks online selling "rot iron" traditional?

In a hundred years, folks will be bragging about their great grandpa who was a REAL blacksmith, with a hunk of RR track, a brake drum forge burning briquettes, and just, well, EVERYTHING!

 

And Thomas, *I* would certainly never call you niggardly in your post count!:o

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I new someone would catch that.

I personally don't have to wait a thousand years; a couple of decades ago a fellow needed some projects for a kid's "Viking Summer Camp" in Finland IIRC (TBI)  I sent him my instructions for making Viking style Penannular Brooches from heavy copper grounding wire.  He sent me a newspaper clipping as it was a big hit at the class---kids actually making Viking style *usable* items!  He kindly provided a translation and the paper mentioned that they were making these viking brooches using the instructions of "the ancient smith wilelm" (My SCA name mentioned in the instructions as I used to teach it at SCA events...)

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2 hours ago, Mtnstream said:

In a thousand years someone will dig up my anvil, tools and propane forge...then they will find my creaky old bones laying against my slack tub with the fingers of my left hand firmly wrapped around a hammer. Will I have become an ancient traditional blacksmith that people spend inordinate amounts of time and energy to exactly emulate? Will they learn to forge left-handed because that was how it was done traditionally, with my example as proof? I think we often misinterpret and over interpret “traditional” because our collective memories are so short. We think of the Vikings as old or traditional when they are, in relation to the span of human history, likely as "modern" as us or any generation in between. Innovation and change are more traditional than a snapshot in time that we decide was the way things were done "traditionally".

Oh sure, big deal just wait till they find my crusty old skeleton with the tongs held between my legs! Now THAT'S traditional!

There's all the genuine ornamental "rod iron" being sold in the specialty shops. Bummer is the name was accurate it was all 5/16" hot rolled round. I mean, REALLY how can I work up a proper fit of outrage when they're NOT misrepresenting the product? Not even a little.

Frosty The Lucky.

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3 hours ago, Marc1 said:

I am positive that the name "traditional" is used simply to say forged in fire and not twisted by a machine in India. That is my take :)

Hear hear!  I agree.

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9 hours ago, ThomasPowers said:

Here in the USA we also see words that have nothing to do with popular hot topics getting "banned" because of people making bad assumptions about them and not being competent to look them up and allow them to be used correctly. They are evidently competent to make a big stink about them in the Media. (I had hoped the Media would be for the expansion of the common vocabulary not it's narrowing; instead they channel Diana Moon Glampers!)

I think that this was covered in Farenheit 451: According to Beatty, special-interest groups and other “minorities” objected to books that offended them. Soon, books all began to look the same, as writers tried to avoid offending anybody. This was not enough, however, and society as a whole decided to simply burn books . Just you wait Professor Higgins just you wait

We have it here too. A couple of public libraries started censoring books but fortunately they were slapped by the authorities since the practice was unconstitutional.

I have seen someone objecting on IFI to bastard files. Now the medieval use of the word was in no way pejorative. Google "the bastard of Orleans".

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or "bastard swords" .  Libraries here generally will refuse to censor even when their "employers" want them too

(and do you call it St JIm?   We went to the St James Tearoom for our 33rd anniversary celebration; my second visit; but I think my Wife and Daughters call it St Jim...)

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1 hour ago, Joel OF said:

I asked this same question a couple years ago. 

 

It comes up every once in a while. Looks like you got a pretty good response. Our memories aren't so good so we have to rehash things now and then. It's not like we have new guys asking all the time you know. :rolleyes:

Frosty The Lucky.

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1 hour ago, Frosty said:

It comes up every once in a while. Looks like you got a pretty good response. Our memories aren't so good so we have to rehash things now and then. It's not like we have new guys asking all the time you know. :rolleyes:

Frosty The Lucky.

Most definitely, I'm sure I wasn't the first!

There should be a Like button on the site.

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The like button has been discussed more than once too and after a while the general consensus seems to be it just doesn't really make sense here. ON the other hand there could be a row of emoticon like things at the top of each page with the text mod thingies. You know bold, italic, underline, etc. Yes? There could be a series of emoticons, happy, indifferent, unhappy, laughing, red faced and screaming, etc. After reading a post you could click on the appropriate button and it'd keep a tally under each. 

Seeing as how endemic ignoring the stickies is this would be a prize winning elaborate thing to ignore. Maybe with the option the trolls could just vote: angry, miserable, sob, and leave the rest of us alone. Hmmmm?

Frosty The Lucky.

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"Traditional" is just one of those words thrown in there which helps sell something.  Simple marketing ploy to reel in the buyer.   It only mean what it means to the buyer. If they believe they are getting something that was made using "traditional" methods then they are happy.  

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I guess I am not traditional at all. I have mostly hand tools but do have a drill press and a 4 inch hand held grinder so I do LOTS of filing. I have no power hammer or press. I am 100% self taught because there is no one to learn from so no "tradition" has been passed down. I just use what I can make use of to the best of my skill. most of what I make never gets seen by anybody, But I do have fun!

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That's how I learned till I found "The Art of Blacksmithing" on the close out sale table at a local book store, then I had a book too! B) When the internet went public I discovered there are lots of blacksmiths out there and finally started meeting a few.

So, we share a tradition. We passed it to ourselves, it's traditional because we say so. 

Not so lonely now? :)

Frosty The Lucky.

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I like our "traditional"; smelt, buy, find or reuse metal, get it hot and beat it into a shape we like. The rest is details

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