Sunday, March 27, 2016

Making needles.

Saturday was spent working in the basement ... a bit more cleaning ... and then something new ... period hammered sewing needles. I have a source on Anglo Saxon iron needles ... it presents the idea that iron needles in period were possibly hammered from long thin tapered strips and not formed by drawn wire. Iron's properties (especially period style bloomery iron) did not lend themselves to being drawn out into wire as easily and consistently as copper, bronze and other non-ferrous metals. So in analyzing the tool and needle finds at sites like York, my source presents the case for hammered needles ... so I thought I would try it ... however I tried it with sheet bronze because I don't readily have any sheet iron handy (future attempts will be made with sheet mild steel which
I think will be the closest I will get to sheet iron ... unless I pound the iron sheets myself ... which may also happen in future projects)
So first came the making of the tools ... I repurposed my old stump anvil into my needle anvil and I used a piece of antler to make a "pinner's bone" - the anvil and pinner's bone both have grooves in them to hold the needle straight as you shape it.
I then needed to make a piercing chisel to punch the eye and a round and square reamer to finish shaping the eye. I still don't have access to my smithing equipment, so I improvised by using large framing nails, my grinder and a propane torch to fashion these tools - the reamers have reindeer antler
handles. The last thing I needed was a lead backing-block to pierce the needle eye on and a grindstone to do the final shaping (both of which I happened to have in my collection of stuff).
The first 2 pictures show the finished bronze hammered needle on the lead block and the remainder of the tapered strip it was hammered from (ready for the next needle). I was really amazed at how well it turned out (I've been wanting to make Leslie period hammered needles for a while) and I'm excited to make more bronze needles as well as iron/mild steel needles and maybe even some silver needles (for that extra special touch) ... I have decided that all my needles will be hammered - everyone else makes bronze/copper wire needles
- I want to be different ... I'm glad Leslie likes her new needle ...


I've been trying to organize my basement workspace ... I call it basement tetris - it's a game crafters play where we move stuff around in the basement to try and convince ourselves we have more space ... it's not as fun as it sounds.
I finally got around to organizing my sheet metal stakes.  They're going to need a lot of TLC - they've rusted over the years in the basement - but now they are better organized. 
The basement adventures continue ...