Viking-Era Smelting: Iron-Age Technology in the Modern Era
We’re no stranger to taking materials back to the source: woodworking courses regularly head out to harvest birch; basket makers can be spotted in local ditches cutting willow, sweetgrass and cattail; and we even have the occasional sheep on campus for the fiber folk. But taking metalwork straight to the source—that’s something new around here! Enter Wayne Potratz, well-known sculptor and ironworker. In this unique experience, Wayne will lead students in building two types of smelting furnaces, a Viking-era style furnace and a brick hybrid furnace, then use them to make steel through the direct reduction of Minnesota Magnetite Iron ore into high-carbon steel. Additionally the workshop will build small "Aristotle-style" furnaces to consolidate some of the smaller bits of steel produced into more workable blooms. The resulting steel blooms can be consolidated and hammered into billets suitable for tool and blade making. This course will be of interest to knife-makers, blacksmiths, sculptors, metallurgists, and students of the history of technology. Each student should come away with a piece of high carbon steel in an amount suitable for a small blade or other tool.