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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 1:38 am    Post subject: Light from Within         Reply with quote

Dear forumites,

It was now long since I last made a post. This year has been a bit different because of the work preparing the upcoming exhibition at the Deutsches Klingenmuseum: The Sword - Form and Tought.

It will open on the 24th of September, in just a few days.
Most of the work has been the documentation and analysis of all the swords to be exhibited, some 48 swords in all. They will be presented with photographs and drawings with analysis of their proportions. Their dynamic properties shall also be presented in a new way in diagrams to facilitate side by side comparison of handling characteristics. The work on dynamic properties has been done together with Vincent le Chevalier, who has invested much work in honing the models of calculations.

Another aspect of this exhibit that I personally find exiting is that the museum was interested in displaying the work of contemporary makers alongside the ancient swords. This is to highlight the craft aspect of the sword though the ages up to current times.
The makers Ralf Hoffmann & Sabine Piper, Jake Powning, Petr Florianek and myself were invited to create swords on the interpretation of the Word Xiphos as "Piercing Light".

Being part of the team that develop this exhibition, it wa very exiting to me to se the progress made by the other makers. I was constantly astounded by the creativity, dedication and skill displayed. I think their results are something very special, showing the potential of sword making today.

And now, finally, my own contribution has been finished and delivered to the museum. My take on this theme was to make a sword of the mind. The blade that embodies critical decision, clear insight and sudden revelation. The name of the sword is "Light from Within". This is a section from the text that goes with the sword in the catalogue:

"An instant rift in the well established understanding. A bright spark setting alight unknown networks of associations, starting an unstoppable chain reaction. Like the fire of a peat bog it smoulders under the surface of intuition and suddenly bursts open in a white hot maw that consumes all normal expectations. It rots away steadfast convictions from underneath, living a parasitic life on comfortable truths making them hollow and insubstantial. Like a reflective globe rising from the dark it increases in size as it rushes towards the surface. I do not yet know what this quivering thing is that reaches out to me from the scorched fragments that flake away after the blinding flash.
For a while now it has been here right beside me and I should have known. A friend, probably, tearing down all I knew when I least expected it. Brittle bones snap under my bare feet as I walk laughing towards the prospect ahead of me.
Taking the shape of a sword, it hovers over the surface of a dark pool in the heart of the forest, reflecting light from within. Right before the moment of crystallization it splits the covering veil, knowledge glinting along its edge."



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Juan Federico Gonzalez




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 4:07 am    Post subject: Light from Within         Reply with quote

That is crazy good work.
One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.

George Orwell - Homage to Catalonia
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 5:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pretty nifty. Simple, yet a number of things are going on. Really aesthetically beautiful; as each
separate element or detail, if you will, pulls one another together into an artistic whole. And just
enough roughness lending antique-like historical appeal, kinda rounding out the package's
character and personality ...

... form and thought, indeed. B-)
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Scott Roush
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 5:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter this is remarkable. And so very inspiring....

Also ... I sense a very subtle touch of Japanese aesthetics? The carved fuller and textures.. not to mention the 'saya-like' scabbard.

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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 6:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you Juan, Matthew and Scott!

I think it the sword express several different sources of inspiration. It was important to me that it did not look like any type of sword that could be exclusively associated with any specific time or any single culture. At best a mix, but most of all I hooped to reach for the archetype of the sword, in any what way I could manage. Inevitably, it is coloured by the content of my own subconscious.

Here is some further text from the catalogue:

Into the forest

From the outset it was a matter of bypassing the well known paths to find a place not visited before. Making a sword is relating to things that are familiar but often slightly misunderstood. This sword must find a shape that was outside history and recognised types. The sword is such a strong image that it can blind us, making us see only what is widely accepted. It is a weapon of course and charged with conflicting ideas and ideals. But it is also an archetype: a function of our mind. The old stories show us how it is an unavoidable part of dramatic moments of change: points of no return. In the hands of gods and slaves, heroes and villains it becomes an extension of their personas, the sharp point of their destinies bringing victory and defeat.

A sword of piercing light seemed to me to be the sword that resides in our mind. The part of ourselves that is able to split the gordian knot of confusion and slay the Jabberwocky of fear, snicker-snack. The blade of the clean cut that is at hand when we need it. It is connected to those powers of change that are at work inside the chrysalis and in the lightning that tumbles the sky high tower to the ground. We fear those powers and we need them through out our lives, passing from one age to another. A sword offers no promise of survival, but at best a fighting chance. It is the best offer we are going to get.

Sketches were the path to finding this sword. The journey lasted twelve months and passed reliquaries and altars for an imagined presentation of the sword and visited various eras and cultures to find inspiration. In the end the shape that emerged was simple: a sword with proportions that come from the human form and a protecting scabbard where sparks can be seen rising from the dark. In the pommel is set a moonstone fitted so that it seems to shine with a blue light from within. The iron of the hilt seems to have emerged from a sacrificial lake, while the gold of the grip remains untarnished. The blade is worn down by a trickle of insights to a keen edge, light bouncing from its surface.
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Blaz Berlec




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 7:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Strange and beautiful!

Extant 15th Century German Gothic Armour
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 11:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott Roush wrote:
Peter this is remarkable. And so very inspiring....

Also ... I sense a very subtle touch of Japanese aesthetics? The carved fuller and textures.. not to mention
the 'saya-like' scabbard.


... SR, I was actually thinking more along Egyptian-like accents, for whatever reason.

You are welcome, PJ ... though I'll readily admit when examining your posts, past and present, and their
included offerings, I find formulating suitable comment and insight ... daunting, at best.

But there are times, like this, when it is impossible not to -- well, maybe that's overstated a bit, but so ? B-)
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B. Stark
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 1:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I must say Peter, your contemporary interpretations are awe inspiring....excellent as always.
"Wyrd bi∂ ful arĉd"

Are we at last brought to such humiliating and debasing degradation, that we cannot be trusted with arms for our defense?

Patrick Henry
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 2:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A stunning and beautiful piece of work that effortlessly pulls elements and aspects from all over the place and melds them together to create something very new - fabulous work.

Well done.

Tod

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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 3:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter, is the hilt material wrought iron? That's become my favorite hilt material, I love the look and texture it provides. Awesome piece all the way around.
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Joe Fults




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 5:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really way over the top art there. Its great to see things like this that just appear from an unexpected direction. Its just stunning.
"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
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Tim Harris
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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 8:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is a jaw-droppingly beautiful piece of work. You have re-set the bar on what a contemporary sword can be.
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Gary Gibson




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PostPosted: Wed 09 Sep, 2015 9:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter, this is an amazingly beautiful piece, very different from a historically-accurate reproduction while being organically awe inspiring. Its the sort of artwork that leaves one speechless...
Gary Gibson
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Maciej K.
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PostPosted: Wed 16 Sep, 2015 1:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter - I can see that your concept on this sword is very worked out and carefully designed.
I can see of course many references to ancient swords, japanese art and techniques, etc. - you know what I am talking about...
but I wanted to draw attention to something else.
this is combination of art - and weapon.
but also - this is in my opinion some kind of meeting of ancient way of thinking with modern approach of talented artist, which you are undoubtedly. - and this "meeting" - is most interesting in my opinion. it needs a great knowledge about edged weapons to design this.
many times we all can see the level of your skills. now you show something more - true art. it is not only Light from Within - but also artistic enlightenment.
there is also something strange in this - something inexplicably appealing. something to contemplate - just like a sculpture, painting or "open book". ...and when we will contemplate more on this - we will find unexpectedly the primitive nature of the real weapon - where subtle decorations are not really to decorate it - but to create the nature and character of this swords.
probably not many can see and appreciate what level of craftsmanship you show here with these subtle details.
truly interesting work...
the idea with the fuller wavy line is great - it reminds me a river - or snake... but there can be more interpretations. when we looking on this work - the imagination is awakened. I can see the pommel is combination of many real types of medieval pieces plus your artistic concept. simple guard remind me viking and norman age pieces - simple, plain - but strong and important element of whole composition. the blade shape is very interesting - very simple, obvious and deadly form - combines a few ancient forms and... nothing more but the structure of steel...
I can see and write more, but ... let the sword itself speaks to us Happy

Medieval Swords - www.artofswordmaking.com
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Thu 17 Sep, 2015 1:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear all,

Thank you for your comments and thoughts. It is very much appreciated.

Blaz: Thank you :-) The experience of strangeness can be a great gift. Sometimes threatening, making us uncomfortable and insecure: afraid to loose what we took for granted. At the same time it has the power to transform us in ways that sets us free.

Matthew: Egyptian influences indeed :-) My favourite book when I was two years old was about the opening of Tut Ankhamon´s grave with fantastic colour prints. Those images made a very deep impression on me. I can still remember the excitement, wonder and awe I felt looking at those sculptures of strange men women and beasts: it was electrifying. I had no conscious thought about ancient Egyptian art when I worked on this sword, but I am not all that surprised that one may see traces of this language of form in the finished piece.

B.Stark: Thank you. This is great encouragement. I shall do more work with a more independent stance to the traditions of the sword.

Leo: Thank you my friend!

Patrick: Yes! it is 19th century wrought iron. Full of surprises with unknown structure and alloy mixes hiding in the interior. You can never be quite sure what you´ll see when you etch it. You have to give up control and welcome the result.

Joe: Thank you for those words!

Tim: Thank you. This is high praise indeed.

Gary: I am very glad that you find this pice is appealing. As a sword smith who may be best known for attending to the the traditional forms of the sword it is a bit of a risk to venture out into unknown territory.

Maciej: I am grateful for your thoughtful words. I see that we appreciate much of the same things in the sword. What you say is very close to the heart of what I try to achieve.
The sword truly has strong narrative qualities that often is expressed by subtle means, just like you say. I have learned to appreciate this through friends and brothers in the craft who are strongly guided and influenced by this aspect of the ancient craft of the sword.
I think that the sword actually must have these qualities to really fulfil its potential. It is easy for us today to overlook this, as we have lost much of the connection we use to have to this object. We see it in a dim mirror of the past. It is not alive to us today like it was. And this is both for better and for worse, naturally. It is easy to make the sword conform to superficial and one dimensional ideas on ethics and ideals like they are reflected in popular media when presenting stories set in historical times or fantastic realms. The swords we see in such situations are very often crude and lack any real power to awe us. They are insubstantial.
I do not mean to romanticise the sword. It is a weapon meant for killing. It is the attribute of self proclaimed righteousness and a tool of oppression and terror.
But it also has other aspects to it.
And we can learn from all of that.
Trying to appreciate the conflicting and paradoxical aspects of the sword may result in a deeper understanding and a richer reward.
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Eduardo Fontenla
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PostPosted: Thu 17 Sep, 2015 9:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A beautiful piece
Curves, lacquer (maki-e skyscape with Stars in the scabbard?)
For me, a Sword-piece of art-symbol object that causing great and strong emotion
(my english is a disaster...)

Dum vivimus, vivamus!
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Thu 17 Sep, 2015 10:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
As a sword smith who may be best known for attending to the the traditional forms of the sword it is a bit of a risk to venture out into unknown territory.


Peter, some of your most interesting work in recent years has come from this "unknown territory". Please continue charting that course.

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Jean Thibodeau




PostPosted: Thu 17 Sep, 2015 7:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Peter, great looking work here that is both a sword and as a piece of fine art sculpture.

Many above have already expressed some thoughts similar to what I was thinking about so I'll just add my first impressions on seeing the sword.

The pommel suggest to me an abstract depiction of some sort of all seeing God's eye inspiring awe and power.

The wavy fuller does also remind me of a snake or river, as Maciej suggested, but I also see the fuller as maybe being like a vein or an artery representing the life force of the blade ?

In any case the exact interpretations are not as important as the fact the the sword inspires interpretations.


I also have a feeling that handling the sword would also be very very interesting it does look like it would be a fast and manoeuvrable sword with good cutting power and effective in the thrust.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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