Bloom iron

In the latest issue of ABANA's publication "The Anvil's Ring" (Volume 39/Number 3/Spring 2011, pages 32-35) a fellow by the name of Lee Sauder
wrote an article titled 'Journey Into Medieval Ironmaking'.
Being a novice at blacksmithing, I'd never heard of bloomeries but the thought of trying to make my own iron had crossed my mind over the years I spent thinking about instead of starting blacksmithing. Sauder's article was a real eye opener for me.
This isn't an ad, but it may read a bit like one. I know other folks are doing this kind of thing, but Sauder is the first I'd run into.
Obviously I checked out his web site, which is at:
<http://www.leesauder.com/maxpages/Home
...and I wound up purchasing a 1/8 slice of one of his blooms a week or so ago.
Yesterday I finally got around to trying it out in the forge and on the anvil.
I won't drag this out too long, but man, what incredible material. Compared to the small amount of actual wrought iron I've worked with it's far more malleable, far easier to work. Compared to any steel - shoot, there's almost no comparison.
Is anyone on this group making bloom iron? I'm thinking seriously of getting to one of Sauder's two day teaching sessions.
Bert
--
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cause of freedom in peace or in war at home or abroad, thank you. “Let's
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(snip)

I'm usually involved with some of Ariadne's iron runs, usually at Pennsic War (an SCA event). We've been doing decent runs with crushed magnetite for ore. I think she has been doing it for over 20 years, and I've been involved for about 13 years or so.
Todd / Torin in the sCA.
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On 07/16/2011 07:53 PM, Todd Rich wrote:

Hello Todd,
Do either you or Ariadne have any photos of the process posted on line?
Bert
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She does, but you have to be logged into facebook to see them. Here is the one photo I can find that was saved from hard drive crash about 8 years ago.
http://i166.photobucket.com/albums/u90/torin3/shop/iron2.jpg
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On 07/17/2011 10:42 AM, Todd Rich wrote:

Great photo, thanks, Todd. Hope you find some more! I scrounged around on facebook as best I could, not being a member any longer but didn't find Ariadne's stuff. Went to YouTube and of course didn't find her there either, but was really surprised at how many people are doing various forms of bloom smelting.
Starting to come to the conclusion that I'd love to give it a shot, but not sure I've got the energy for it. If either of my two sons weren't so busy with their own lives, I'd enlist one of them to help out. Lacking that, I think discretion's going to be the better part of valor here. Regular work and smithing on the side are beating me up enough I think. Ah...wish it were 30 years ago!
Bert
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I don't know where you live, but there are many people in the various abana affiliates who are involved with the direct reduction iron making process in one way or the other. I'd start by contacting my closest abana affiliate and asking questions. If you don't think you want to do it all by yourself (I wouldn't), you can certainly become part of a group that is already into it. There is plenty of grunt work to be done to pay your entry fee. If you are more interested in the process than in the actual low carbon product, several knife makers are into producing their own takahagane (sp?) steel for Japanese style swords.
Pete Stanaitis
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On 07/18/2011 12:00 PM, Pete S wrote:

Great advice as always. By the way, I'm in the Western New York village of Palmyra - about 20 miles east south east of Rochester. Had I looked into things more thoroughly a while back, I would have joined the New York State Designer Blacksmiths group first instead of ABANA itself. But, I'm budgeting for the additional membership. There's a guy within that more local organization who hosts a number of basic smithing teaching sessions - when I join up I will be getting in touch with him.
As far as the process versus the resulting material, to be honest, I think mine's a 50/50 interest; definitely want more bloom iron to forge, but also would love to produce it myself.
Thanks for your time, sir.
Best regards, Bert
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I applaud your budgeting to join the New York group, but I don't think you have to wait. Contact the guy anyway and ask your questions. Also, there are many folks around who do these things, but are not associated with a specific group. Use the time before you join to do your networking. Contact Lee Sauder directly and ask him for contacts in your area, too.
In my 72 years, I have seen and attempted many a new-to-me process, but the direct reduction of iron at a back yard level is one of the trickiest yet for someone attempting to do it on their own. There are SO MANY subtleties to consider. And so much preparation-----
Pete Stanaitis ---------------

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On 07/20/2011 09:57 AM, Pete S wrote:

Sage words, Mr. Stanaitis. One of the things I've learned to if not resist, at least approach with caution over the years, is trying to absorb a complete new trade or art just for the sake of a single new project, venture or adventure. Life is short and though the words of an old friend of mine always ring in my memory (i.e. "I want to know something about everything and everything about something.") that thought has to be tempered with the wisdom of knowing one's limitations - both in time and abilities.
In any case, the main reason I'm posting to this thread again is a discovery my wife and I made in our side yard a couple of weeks ago.
Bonnie is working on adding a new garden beside our side entry steps and she was using her little tiller to do some edging along our driveway in that area. The tiller ran into a large rock, Bon knew enough to stop before the tines were destroyed and she tried attacking the rock on her own. What she uncovered she decided to leave for me to deal with when I got home from work.
Well, once I got home, after a half hour of aggravating digging, pick axing and work with my largest wrecking bar, I really started to get excited.
The pieces of this monster rock that I was bringing up were loaded with long, wide streaks of rust. The substrate was very black coming out of the wet soil, but the rust was unmistakable. In my mind, it had to be some form or iron ore.
I guess it's too late to make a long story short, but I'll try. I wound up breaking up enough of the rock to satisfy Bonnie's plans for the garden and we covered it all back over. The sections of rock that I'd busted out of there I saved in my garage. I took a few photos of some of the samples, sent a couple of photos to my daughter who has a geology degree and a couple of photos and an actual sample to Lee Sauder.
Lee has written back saying, yup, it's iron ore - and probably bog iron.
My daughter - even based on only the photos, concurs.
My wife is not happy about my plans for the side garden.
Bert
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peace or in war, at home or abroad, thank you. Si vis pacem, para
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