Growing a Web - About this site.
FAST Answers to Questions:

1) I see the 'Latest Revision' is some (older) date. Are you still active / is the information current?


Given the overall size of the site, not EVERYTHING is modified on a constant basis. It is only when new / modified information is required that an individual 'sheet' might be changed.
- Check the main index page if you are really interested in the very latest additions.
- Major modifications are normally made in January and February each year.

2) This site does not contain (insert latest fad trend here). How come?
This site depends on LONGEVITY and CONTENT, not mere flash.

Sorry, there are no 'dancing pigs' and there are not likely to be into the future.

3) Its too confusing! I can't FIND anything. HELP?
Check the 'site index' and consider use the 'search this site' function.

Yes, there is a LOT of stuff in here, and it is often hard to find something specific. Makes it interesting though, doesn't it? (see commentary below)

4) What are next years course dates?

I generally try to keep the same 'weekends' each year for standard courses and events programing

(third weekend in June is always 'Introduction to Smithing' for example). For specifics check Courses / Year's Events. is a *massive* web site.
At time of this writing (February 2011) there were over 100 individual 'sheets' and over 1000 individual images.
The site is organized into three main branches :
The Wareham Forge / The Norse Encampment / Experimental Iron Smelting

The reason the overall site is so huge is two fold:
1) The raw age and development of the site
2) An underlaying philosophy
Not too surprisingly, these two factors are linked.

My earliest exposure to the internet was closer to the beginning, in the early 1990's. Rural Dial-up. Bulletin Boards. On a Mac 512 K (!). The adventure then was *information*. Content was considered more important than format. Most of the newly developing 'web sites' were plain text on grey or white backgrounds. There were few images, these were small and usually took too long to load up. Dramatic layouts consisted of different sized lettering. Only boldest had adventured into the world of colours.
The original version of the Wareham Forge was launched in 1996 (!). At the time it might very well have been the first Blacksmithing related web site in Ontario. (Other early entries were David Robertson (Hammer & Tongs) and Robb Martin (Thak Ironworks)). There was not very much commercial development of the internet in those days (a lot of hype, but not much actual sales activity).
My intent with the Wareham Forge web site has always to have it act basically as an on line portfolio .
Now those who know me are quite aware that 'frustrated teacher' is a good description of my character. I never seem to be able to answer a question without going back to the underlaying based principles, to use one word if ten makes the answer clearer (?).
As an artist, you have to 'sell the sizzle, as much as the steak'. Something else I knew from right when I sold my first object. People are just as interested (if not more) on the legend of the object and the myth of the artisan, as they are in the design and craftsmanship of the object.
So as well as simple descriptions, there are many deeper insights into individual objects. Often these have been expanded into longer commentaries on related historical prototypes, physical techniques and discussions on the creative process.

The raw age of the site leads another factor - total volume.
I started metalworking from an interest in historic objects, back as a student in the late 1970's. I have always been prolific, even before I was a full time artisan blacksmith. The earliest objects described on the site date back to the early 1980's.
Of course the scale, complexity and (hopefully) craftsmanship of the pieces has increased in those years. I no longer make the simple table candle holders which supported the Wareham Forge in its earliest years of operation (officially registered in 1992).
Intentionally, I have kept images and descriptions of older work in place. Hopefully this will give the viewer some idea of the development of skill and style over time. Increasingly, this web site is a record of a life's work.

In keeping with my 'hippie wannabe' viewpoint of the world, I think sharing information is critical. This viewpoint was heightened by my own experience in blacksmithing, trying to re-invent a shattered chain within a traditional skill. I've always just added to the expanding content on the site, rarely removing anything. Some of the earlier pieces are still present in their original form. In its present form, the site is the result of at least three complete re-designs and re-formattings. However, I consider one of the major weaknesses of the internet is its often transitory nature. For that reason there has been a specific effort made to keep the primary areas of the site as consistent as possible. Although the specific 'sheet' locations remain constant, the degree of interconnection between them is under constant revision. The cost of increasing the available 'flow' is increasing complexity.

The current trend is to strip to the bare bones. Those who prefer that ease, and simplicity might also might want to consider if what you are looking at is mere advertising, the triumpth of form over substance. (The classic test for a blacksmithing site - If they claim 'wrought iron work' you had best ask 'Where do you get the iron from?')

For good or bad, the Wareham Forge site represents myself. If you hate the way information is presented on the site, odds are pretty good you won't like me personally either. Maybe I'm not the artisan you should be consulting?

In an internet world were 'Sturgeon's rule' is more and more dominating, I like to think that the Wareham Forge web site represents a stable entry point into an ever expanding (and interesting) vision.

February 7, 2011

All text © Darrell Markewitz - the Wareham Forge