Norse Knock-offs

A Multitude of Mendacious Mjolnirs

 

Here’s the first Thor’s Hammer pendant I did, back in 2009.

I feel I’ve done better ones since, but this one strikes a chord with people. Not a month goes by that someone from the internet doesn’t track me down and ask if I’m ever going to make more of them – preferably at about $20 apiece. I always say “No”. I made a big deal over my promise that I’d only ever make 9 of them, and I haven’t had time to rework the design.

But market forces are as immutable as gravity, and where the original is placed beyond reach they inevitably give rise to imitation…

Behold! My very first knockoff!

Awfully familiar, no?

Awfully familiar, no?

I was more surprised to see it than I was angry. It’s flattering in a way – confirmation that it’s at least good enough to bother stealing! I do wish the “artist” took a bit more care with his model and the finishing. It’s a painstaking copy in many ways, with some lazy knots slapped on where my original photos were obscure or where finishing a smooth section would take too much time.

Took a while to track them down – some are distributed out of NY, others from Sweden, some from Bangkok. I have a hunch they’re cranked out somewhere with cheap labour and skilled artisans – Russia maybe, China probably. The most honest distributor I spoke with told me that he bought his cheap brass copies on a trip to China – the least honest one (pictured) claimed it was his own direct copy of an archaeological relic, which is nonsense.

When I cast this pendant in 2009, there were very few decent hammers available at all, and nothing comparable in quality. Now that Vikings have become a mainstream fantasy, there’s a great deal more to see. Many of the higher-end pieces are quite good, from a technical standpoint anyway. There’s still a lack of innovation, a great deal of artistic laziness. Most pieces are either copies of dug-up originals – usually simplified to speed production – or adolescent fabrications that look like they belong in an issue of Heavy Metal. Very few seem willing to devote the necessary effort to creating new forms within the ancient styles, and far fewer seem willing to finish them to the appropriate standard.

Eesh.

Oh, I found another knockoff, of my Mk III in cheap brass…

 

 

 

 

But what’s wrong with my Mk II mjolnir? It’s not good enough to steal?! I’ve always liked it the best of the bunch.

Philistines…

Iron in the Blood

I am a blacksmith. I earn my living through the strength of my arm and the sweat of my brow, hammering out tools and works of art as our ancestors did for two-thousand generations until the steam-engine sealed our fate and liberated humanity from a life of constant toil. Make that “The rest of humanity”. The hours for a modern blacksmith are as long as ever.

There is iron in our blood, for blacksmiths doubly so. Some, like me, know that it is the greater part of their being, the source of an all-consuming quest to be followed wherever it leads. I keep telling my friends to ditch that silly Ph.D. and come pound steel, but have no takers as of yet. To call yourself a Blacksmith and mean it – to be an honest artist of any kind – takes a kind of dedication that is almost a lost quality in this age of distraction and self-doubt. A dedication that chooses steel to work with over food to eat. A dedication that works through meals and into the early morning hours, and is found by the apprentice next day, asleep on the layout table.

Ours is an ancient and noble craft. One with much to be proud of and much to answer for: The noble Knight’s sword and the axe of the tyrant’s executioner; The surgeon’s scalpel and the Inquisitors thumb-screws; Shackles for the guilty rapist and the innocent slave, all were forged by my forefather-smiths.

Don’t ask why I do it, I’m not sure I even know. I can give you a list of the steps I took in pursuit of knowledge, masters studied with and schools attended after being thrown out of a third and final college; but what drives me on in my quest is hidden even from me.

The blacksmith’s is not an easy path. The hours are ridiculous, the labour often grueling, the pay is low or lacking entirely and the only retirement plan involves a deep hole and a long, narrow box. Still, I have not seen any life that I would trade it for. The black creases in my leather apron, the dozens of burn-scars on my arms and hands, the smell of a coal fire through the damp morning air and the searing heat of a half-finished, yellow-hot forging – Any of these mean more to me than all of the precious stones I’ve set into gold rings or silver sword-hilts.

It is a deep, indescribable, atavistic satisfaction to forge hot iron. Some call it a fulfillment of purpose, or a connection to the lost ages of the ancient past. Myself, in the midst of a swinging hammer and a roaring forge, gritty and dripping sweat, I have known moments of peace and contentment without compare, equaled only by the release of coitus, or a long stalk in the evening woods.

Metal-working pre-dates the written word, so there’s tremendous depth. As a blacksmith, your creativity will never be limited by material, style or even technique.

Ours is the King of Crafts, bearing the ancient motto: “By hammer and hand, all art doth stand”.

My Work

Heimdall’s Coffee Mug

A Viking coffee mug with Jelling motifs.

Surt’s Razor

A big knife for a big serviceman. Parkerized
5160 steel with a cloth-resin grip.

Fenris Ring & earrings

Pieces commissioned to match the Mjolnir MkIII. More than 6 carats of black diamonds in matching finger- and ear-rings.

Gun-Barrel Tomahawk

Pipe tomahawk forged from a .45 muzzle-loader barrel. Pierced blade, pewter and brass accents.

Fire-tool Stand – Detail

Detail of a stand for fireplace tools,
showing complexity of finials.

Hartree Wedding Band

Norse-motif platinum wedding band.
Weight nearly one ounce

Birch-leaf Fireplace Doors

Hand-forged in their entirety,
from leaves to rivets.

Epona Among the Scythians

Scythian horses adorn this ornate 1" pendant,
a tribute to Epona, Rhiannon and potnia theron.

Oak Leaf Fireplace Doors

Copper and steel fireplace doors, to match and complete a 1920s marble fireplace. Some very simple repousse, modern and traditional forms.

Colonial Fire Tongs

From a set of 18th c fireplace tools.
Wrought with precision.

Mjolnir Mk III

Third in the series – a dramatically reworked, unlimited vorsion of the Mk I. Articulated wolf-clasps grasp the troth-ring.

Rococo Pipe Tomahawk

Pipe tomahawk with light engraving
and pewter accents.