>Smeltfest 08 Rockbridge Bloomery - Lexington Virgina
A Draft Report

Lee Sauder again hosted an intensive 10 day long session of iron smelting and related activities for a small invited group : Skip Williams, Mike McCarthy, Darrell Markewitz, Jake Keen (who flew in from England). Jesus Hernandez dropped in for two days. Shel Browder and Steve Mankowski (and their team) hosted a couple of days at Colonial Williamsburg latter in the week.
Lee and Mike were working on a special smelt to sculpture project. (I will not attempt to describe the details, and hope they will report.) Over a series of smelts (I think it was four) they smelted new bloom on top of the existing mass. The end result was a bloom totaling some 175 lbs. One of the single additions resulted in 75 lbs of new material created in a single smelt - a new record for the team.

(Working over the boom after the 75 lb single smelt addition)
Skip, Jake and Darrell undertook a total of three smelts, working on the 'bellows plate' furnace Skip and Jake had seen at Enderhoven last summer. Much was learned about this set up (mainly from trying to snatch victory back from the jaws of the fire monsters!) The series included a test of the DARC Dirt 1 bog ore analog, which proved 'proof of concept' at least.

(Set up of the smelter with bellows plate and gap in air blast)
Skip, Jake and Darrell spent three days with the team at Colonial Williamsburg (while Lee and Mike finished the sculpture project). Browder and Mankowski lead a very sucessful smelt using all Colonial Era methods.

(The smelter set up at Williamsburg.)
We also built and demonstrated the small 'Aristotle Furnace' developed by Williams.

(Jake mans the bellows, Skip inserts a piece of scrap wrought iron, while a Williamsburg smith looks on.)
Other activities included a day trip to the Jamestown Archaeological site to view artifacts related to the first American iron smelting. We also were taken to visit gunsmith Jon Laubach and allowed to gather several hundred pounds of the Jamestown/Williamsburg iron ore.

(Land of Riches! Good quality ore just inches below the sand surface.)
This years session was especially packed with smelting, and everyone felt they had not only a wonderful time, but learned and achieved a great deal. Thanks again to Elizabeth and Lee Sauder for hosting the workshop. There should be upcoming reports on all the various smelts and related experiments from the session.
Text and photography © 2008, Darrell Markewitz