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Meeting the Devil’s Blacksmith

I’ve bee involved in the Devil’s Blacksmith documentary only in its post-production phase until now. I have translated and narrated for my friend the filmmaker. However, I have never met either of the blacksmiths involved in this project. To be honest I have never met a blacksmith in my life, full stop. This however is quickly going to change as I am going to go to the BathIron festival this weekend! Before the trip I thought it’d be a good idea to meet one of them, Mr. Devil’s Blacksmith, Walfrid Huber himself. So I bought a train ticket to Vienna, Austria last weekend, and spend a day with the most humble and incredible guy there is!

Imagine my surprise when I was invited in to his most sacred lair, his blacksmith workshop. I thought there would be coal, dust, dirt everywhere. However, this is the most organized, and clean workshops I have seen in my life!
Each hammer (and all his tongs laid out in a similar fashion in an adjacent shelf) in the shop was made by Mr. Huber himself. Some are “general purpose” ones, but there are a few that were made specifically for one piece or project only.
Rows and rows of hammers. Their handles are smooth from use and all the love and care they receive.
Mr Huber’s latest projects, a more down to earth one compared to the Notre Dame hinges he recreated for the documentary film. This anvil was not cast, rather welded together from six (!) separate pieces. Unfortunately for the owner the horn came off. I cannot even imagine the force that is needed to do that!
And this is the future horn for the anvil. It is attached to an iron bar until it will be the right size and fit for the anvil. Then it will be cut off and welded onto the anvil.
And perhaps the most astonishing find for me. THE Anvil. The top of this baby reaches up to my waist. And for reference I am a 6 feet tall gal.
Mr Huber at work. Photo courtesy of Tamás Lehoczky.

I think this one day trip to Vienna was one of the most exhausting ones of my life. And it was not the train ride that drained all my energy. It had more to do with the fact that every single brain cell, every single pore of mine was in such high focus, I wanted to absorb every single detail, that at the end of the day I had the Internal Storage full error message. But at the same time, this experience has meant the world for me. To get to know such an amazingly talented person, a true artist happens only so many times in ones life! And honestly, I cannot wait to spend this next weekend with him, and artists from all over the world at BathIron!

If you are in the area and are interested, do come along and say hi! I will be taking part in the screening of The Devil’s Blacksmith documentary’s screening and will be hosting the Q&A that follows. See you there!

The Devil’s Blacksmith

I did something unexpected and exhilarating, I did the English narration of a teaser video for a documentary film my friend is making. The film is about an Austrian blacksmith who has discovered the century old secret of making the hinges of the Notre Dame cathedral’s portal. A secret which earned a blacksmith the name The Devil’s Blacksmith in the middle ages. The teaser video is one in a series that was made to call the attention to the cause and help raise funds for the post production of the documentary film (more information can be found here).

I did not plan on doing something like this, it was quite unexpected in fact. My friend asked me if I’d do it, and almost as soon as I said yes, he showed up on my doorstep with two huge suitcases. The suitcases ended up containing (excuse me here, because I know nothing of these technical intricacies) the stuff with which we did the recording. Several laptops, pedals, thing with flashing lights and buttons (I told you!) and a huge microphone converted our cozy living room into a recording studio in no time. I felt like JLo all of a sudden. The spotlight was definitely on me.

I never narrated anything in my life. OK, if reading a fairy tale to my nephew counts as narration, then I have some experience. But this was quite different. What was it like, you are asking? It’s strange when you are told you have to face the microphone and read at the same time, but the dang thing is covering your view. It’s also strange to hear that my “p”-s sound like I’m spitting. And it’s even stranger to rethink how you pronounce that “p” and come up with another way of doing it so to avoid that spitting sound. And the frustration because you are recording something for the 10th time because you keep laughing at yourself. But all in all, it was an amazing experience! I loved every minute of it! 

After the recording session was over my friend left without me hearing what the end result sounded like. So when he sent me the above teaser video, I was amazed. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that this is my voice. I realized I never heard my recorded voice before, which is strange considering I gave speeches and held trainings as part of my job for years. It is also strange to present a part of myself to the world which I feel is quite personal and which I never have before.

So what’s next you’re asking? Today I heard the wonderful news that the documentary  film is going to be presented at the prestigious, New York based Robert A.M. Stern Architects’ firm in December. My friend has asked me to help with the narration of the version he is preparing for the viewing. Cannot wait to do this!!! Will have to work on those “p”-s, though.

 

Weekly board game roundup – 7

It’s been some time since I took a couple of days off. It felt refreshing to stay in bed a bit longer, go for a stroll and not rush to work, cook some dishes that take just a bit longer to make and play more games.

During the week we dropped in to Gémklub. We really wanted to try two games, so decided to give them a try. So we built a bit of a bird sanctuary and laid some eggs (aren’t these the cutest?) then traveled to the Far East to … well, play a Mahjong inspired game.

Imagine our surprise, when it turned out that a game we back-ordered turned out to be waiting for us in the store. We brought it home, busted it out and played it. Played it. Then played it some more. I don’t think we’ve ever played something so many times in a row!

I have to say, WOW. I never liked D&D, I am not an RPG girl, but WOW! I fell in love so hard with this game. The story it tells is so tongue and cheek. One minute you are a lunatic-monk-halfling, the next a compassionate-wizard-dwarf. Then the next moment I am the son of a blacksmith. I mean, really? With all the work I did for The Devil’s Blacksmith project? We had such a laugh! If you get a chance, it is a must to try!

Games top to bottom: Wingspan, Dragon Castle, Roll Player and Roll Player: Monsters & Minions


BathIron – Among blacksmiths

The first sentence, the opening phrase is always the most important one. So help me out here! How does one start to describe that for which there are no words? OK, I have words. But what I struggle with is to put them into coherent sentences. It’s like when you have the most amazing experience of your life and your brain stores the information in bursts or flashes and not one continuous movie. Your feelings are that of the adrenaline pumping at high speed and an extra dose of euphoria and that clouds everything! So how should I put THAT into words?

Imagine me arriving at the festival site of BathIron and without warning being swept up and immersed into the strange world of the blacksmiths. Imagine 2 metric tons of coke for the forges. I was surrounded by smoke, acrid foul smelling thick smoke that enveloped me and held me in its arms for three days. Imagine being surrounded by close to a hundred blacksmiths and aspiring students (even children) who were united under one generous cause: to rebuild the balustrades of the band stand in the Parade Gardens in the center of Bath. Imagine blacksmiths folding a rigid metal right in half like I fold gnocchi pasta on Sundays. Like there is really nothing to it! Imagine these very same demi-gods – because by now I am sure they cannot be human! – coming one after another and shaking hands with my companion, Mr Huber, and me translating every word, thought, anecdote. And imagine that I have never translated before in my life! Imagine that at the screening of the documentary there are close to a hundred people holding their breath and looking with awe at the film. And these very same hundred people bombarding you with questions for an hour,, hour and a half afterwords.

Translating and explaining what a blacksmith does was both a challenge and a pleasure. I learnt more than I can say about the characteristics of iron, the fire, and mundane things like sand.

Mr Huber’s masterpiece on display at BathIron.

The younger generation having a go at the trade of the blacksmith.

At the end of the day I was sooty, smelled like a smoked trout and was exhausted beyond anything I can describe. Yet I felt so incredibly happy! Each one of the blacksmiths was the most humble, unselfish person I have met. Ready to help and share those who want to learn the trade. All in hyper focus, working in unison and doing their very best and beyond to achieve the goal of the festival. And the balustrade they created is beyond any beauty I have seen. I felt humbled.

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So why all the musical related pieces? For one, because the balustrades are going to be on a band stand. But also, because a young musician wrote a piece which was immortalized by forging its notes onto the balustrades. So, if you can read music and you circle the band stand you’ll be humming the below melody. Brilliant!

 

Go take a look at the other pictures and footage which were taken at the festival. If you look closely you might even find me explaining details of The Devil’s Blacksmith documentary. Better yet! Go look for a blacksmith festival in your area. It is worth it!!

 

Photos by Niki Jewett for BathIron @bathironfest and NHIG@hertiageironwork unless otherwise noted.

The barefoot narrator

I’ve share with you some time ago (in this blogpost) my involvement in my friend’s documentary film on forge welding. I am really happy to report that the project was quite successful, and many professional and amateur blacksmiths and enthusiast of the craft have asked the film and the project to continue. That is how the idea of an instructional video on the subject of forge welding was born. As I was the voice for the original film, my friend asked me to help with the new documentary as well.

Tamás Lehoczky, the creator of the Devil’s Blacksmith documentary, yours truly and our sound engineer, Balázs Katona

This time the recording took place at a professional studio with a professional sound engineer instead of our living room.  It was strange to be there. Serious guy and an even more serious looking studio microphone and pop filter looking me straight in the eye. For a second I got dizzy and almost burst out singing Crazy in Love but lucky for the guys around me I quickly realized that I only sound like Beyonce in the shower.

I found myself taking a sip of water and taking my sandals off. I started getting more and more relaxed. I found the voice and style I used for the previous narration and just let things roll. The recording turned out quite good. It seems I still have some problem with my p-s, or rather as it turns out, the software has some problems with my p-s. But it is not something that cannot be worked around.

So what is next? Oh, things are going to be busy! In June I am going to go to the BathIron festival in Bath, England, where I will be taking part in the screening of the original documentary and the Q&A that follows it. I am super excited! Hope to see you there!

One step at a time

Now that Ms. Procrastination has been banished from my life I found an even more dangerous opponent, Mrs. Rushmore. Calendar in my lap I was trying to figure out how I want the coming weeks to work out, what are the tasks I want to achieve, and I found myself cramming more to-do-s into a few hours, days than is humanly possible. I felt I was breathless just writing down my list. So I decided to take things easy, one step at a time.

collage 2One of the things that keeps nagging me is my 77 day fitness plan. I am on track. Except for one day (when after a really long day at work I collapsed onto my bed at 8:59 and was fast asleep by 9 pm) I did all the exercise sessions I prescribed myself. I feel stronger, but more importantly really motivated to continue. And I think here lies the problem: I feel my motivation has started to feed the seed of impatience in me and I am rushing things.

If I have one set of exercises in my plan, I want to do (at least) two. If I told myself I’ll climb the stairs and go up to the 2nd floor I feel the little devil urging me to go up to the fifth. I know I need to slow down, but that little devil… Therefore, I decided to be more lenient with myself, more forgiving. To take a breath and just breathe… literally! And (in style) I wrote this little list to remind myself

  1. to trust that my plan will take me all the way to my goal.
  2. That sidesteps and bypasses are not always shortcuts and could take me on the longest route.
  3. It is OK to take a rest. It is OK to watch a football match or play a board game and forget the big ol’ plan for a second.
  4. I need to say no and admit that I erred. My world is not going to end if a Plan B needs to be put in place.
  5. And if only the 2nd floor is prescribed, I have to trust that at the end I will get to the fifth. Only, it will be another day.

P.S. Just remember to take one step at a time. They will add up to a million at the end!

 

 

Pairing it up

The more I think about it, I prepped myself for this second hen. It started with a definite understanding that my French hen will have little eggs for Easter. And then my subconscious (call her the little devil on my shoulder) kept eyeing the other colors in the pattern and before I knew it all my ideas about eggs were scrambled into nothingness. I was dreaming about the endless possibilities that I could have with a pair. So I made up my mind (subconscious strike one) and decided that I will have two. Because it is going to be symmetrical, more balanced. Because they could be facing each-other and gossip their hearts out… oh, who am I kidding? I just wanted to make one more!French hen aqua greenLooking at the color combinations I decided to make the aqua and green one at the end. Primarily, because I wanted some harmony between the girls. I think incorporating this into the wreath will make the door ornament more balanced, more inviting.

French hen aqua green headHowever, harmony comes in only the presence of some of the colors. I still wanted to make them unique. That is why I opted for this hen to have translucent sparkly beads as a necklace instead of the pearls. I really like how these do not take away rather direct the attention to the aqua colored neckline.French hen aqua green wing

For the wing embroidery I decided to take a simpler approach then for the previous one. I wanted to use only one color for the leaves, because I think the bird is colorful as it is. If the threads would be multi-colored, I felt it would be too much and take away the attention from the vibrancy of the hen itself. As the multi-colored embroidery works for the white and blue, so does the simplicity work for this one here.

And talking about the vibrancy. It took me a bit more time to get used to the color combination of this hen than to the white and blue one. Somehow the contrasts were more extreme, more out of place. Yet in the end I realized that no matter how weird it is, it is quite beautiful. And what is strange is that although they are just two, their presence is such that they make quite a pair!

 

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