Monday, January 4, 2016

Dúnedain Spear and Forward Hopes


This winter has been strangely mild and grey. Many days have been unusually warm, full of life and joy spent with my wife, and amidst our family and friends during the Christmas/New-Years season. But there's also been some very cold days filled with pain and grief.
I've always found it unhelpful to sugarcoat life by only acknowledging the "warmth". Instead I try to be honest enough to know that true lasting joy is often found not only in the warmth of life, but also amidst the pain and the cold. Sometimes true joy is far more meaningful, rooted, and genuine when found in and through life's pain.

Thankfully, I am certainly by no means in a place of life which I would call "painful". I am far more blessed with health, love, and peace than I deserve.

But I still try to keep this understanding of pain close to my heart and mind. And lately I've found myself applying it to my art in different ways.

I've always loved Professor J.R.R. Tolkien's description of the Dúnedain people.
They are often described in somber and dark terms, as a remnant people, and as forgotten yet kingly wanderers exiled from their home.
I find these descriptions extremely evocative and inspiring artistically. It has manifested itself in many ways throughout my art this winter, and one of many projects that show this is a spear I am currently crafting, The Dúnedain Doombreaker's Spear:

This spear is a collaborative project with some of my best friends. Most of the initial core-work to bring the spear to life was accomplished in an intense 16 hour work day at my workshop with the combined efforts of: Nate Runals, Robert Burns, Jason Kraus, John Page, Pete Braspenninx, and myself.

You can see a short documentary of the day here, which shows our efforts on two additional collaborative spears as well:

 The Dúnedain spear and the others were inspired and conceived at a rapid pace of energy and enthusiasm amongst us. We woke up with a fiery dream of crafting three spears, and ended the day with three roughly forged and successfully heat-treated pattern-welded spear blades.

After our time working together the group then left the spears to my care, in order that they could entrust me with the responsibility of grinding and polishing each one to their final shapes. Etching the steel surfaces to reveal the patterns, and fashioning their carved haft-handles to completion.

After grinding and polishing the the Dúnedain spear my next goal was to design intricate decorations, which I am currently planning to engrave and carve into the surface of the blade soon.

The construction of this spear is a 3 layer laminate "San Mai" method. With carbon steel in the middle and gnarly wrought iron sandwiching the outside flat faces of the blade. This will allow me a softer metal to carve as apposed to the hardened center.

I  explored different motifs on paper, trying to capture the grim beauty of the Dúnedain culture that Tolkien described:

The finished spear will hopefully carry and depict a grim elegance, worthy of the narrative that Tolkien told about the noble Dúnedain. But hopefully it will also convey the sorrow and grief that they endured throughout Arda's story, a grief that is ultimately fulfilled with joy because of the return of the King.

Many other projects of mine are finally finding their completion on my workbench this winter, all of which I'm excited to share. And many of new projects are being born too, which I'm equally thrilled to see come to life.


Though much of my current work is inspired by themes of pain and grief, I am still more full of joy than I could ever ask for or expect...

A huge change is coming to Cedarlore Forge soon.
Until then,
Best of blessings and true joy to you amidst the cold

- David

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do

Awe is something undeniably crucial to what makes us human. It's at the core of what moves us towards beauty, especially in art and in creation.

Awe seems to be an enigma and a problem for some worldviews that believe we exist merely due to blind meaningless random "chance". Such worldviews absolutely fail to account for the weight, beauty, and majesty that we all feel in our hearts and minds in the midst of what we call "awe".
That's why I believe its so important to challenge our assumptions, especially on the topics of awe in the human heart and our approach to beauty.

Awe is a response to external beautiful truths and experiences, not a created thing out of the void of our hearts and minds.
I resonate with John Piper's words when he says:
"Do people go to the Grand Canyon to increase their self-esteem? Probably not. This is, at least, a hint that the deepest joys in life come not from savoring the self, but from seeing splendor. And in the end even the Grand Canyon will not do. We were made to enjoy God. "

I'm thrilled to hear and read author Paul Tripp's writings on these topics, as he approaches them with humility, honesty, and a sharp eye to challenge our self-focused assumptions.

Paul has been an author who has greatly encouraged me in my path as an artist.
And so for anyone who is at all fascinated about the topic of awe, beauty, and truth, no matter the worldview or background you come from: I encourage you to dig into Paul's new book: Awe: Why It Matters for Everything We Think, Say, and Do

Friday, October 16, 2015

Echos over Éire and our footsteps through it