One of our greatest pleasures is educating the crowd with what we call, "What they don't teach in the history books." I have explained to my students over the years that teachers are required to cram about 5,000 years of history into 10 months. Not an easy feat.
Last weekend we joined our Viking Warband, Drafn, and spent a weekend showing off the great artisans of Drafn. We debuted to the public a working Bronze Age smelting furnace and cast over 200 pieces of pewter tokens. We also discovered, tongue firmly inserted into cheek, why the Bronze Age never arrived to Southern California. With heat well over 90-100 degrees last weekend attempting to bring the furnace to over 2000 degrees to melt bronze would be like a re-creation of Dante's Inferno. So, we stuck with melting "pewter" instead which melts at a lower temperature. In the United States lead pewter is illegal. Most pewter now is a combination of tin and zinc aka plumbers solder or tin and antimony.
The Master and his Apprentice. In the center is the brick smelting furnace that held the crucible full of lovely "pewter".The white pipe led up to the bellows faithfully pumped by our awesome Apprentice. Hidden behind the hay bails and out of picture are the large buckets of water, modern fire extinguishers and water hose. The populace was not allowed to walk into the inner circle for safety reasons. We used wood charcoal aka BBQ briquette and refined coal aka coke.
There is a collective agreement amongst the historians that the Vikings used soap stones, oiled sand and wax to make many of their items. There has been some experiments with wood molds for swords and axes, but the molds are one use items. During this event we used soap stones to make cross and Thor's hammers. We did attempt a sand cast on Saturday, but due to the heat the oil in the sand dried up.
On the other side of the path was Drafn's bread ovens. Yum! We smelled freshley baked bread all day. They are a popular site during the event with freshly baked bread to taste and experiment with different flavors. I think I heard one of the bakers say they weigh over 1,300 lbs a piece. The bakers start the fire early in the morning with actual fire wood. The bread ovens are modeled after ones used at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. However, these types of ovens have been found all over the world and in various time periods dating as far backs as the Egyptians.