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Aaron Schnatterly




Location: New Glarus, WI
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PostPosted: Tue 29 Nov, 2005 8:15 pm    Post subject: Wicked-cool Thanksgiving         Reply with quote

I just got back from a really awesome holiday break - spent Thanksgiving week in New Glarus with the entire Albion crew and their families. Mindblowing.

Thanks to everyone - a MUCH needed break, great to catch up with old friends, and finally meet some new ones - at least finally meeting everyone face to face. (Yes, I must admit, John, Eric, Joel, Gabe - you guys do rock like Satan. Wink )

I could go on and on - so much wild stuff happening in that shop, and some killer surprises coming up. No, I won't let them out of the bag... I suppose the best thing I can do is hit some highlights, though...

I got the grand tour and general introductions first. Huge maze of a facility. Quick pass through, then landed in The Far Side taking with Jody and Shan-Aan. Wild stuff happens back there... those two have some neat projects going on. One can't help but feel almost overwhelmed with creativity back there.

Started off the next day running straight into Peter. I had a brief chat and finally the oportunity to shake the hand of a good friend I hadn't had a chance to meet face to face before, and he and Harlan were off to a meeting. Some time talking with Howy and Amy, and into the shop I went. Over the next few days, I got to see nearly every aspect of taking a sword from Peter's concept sketches to a finished sword, packed for shipping. It's easy to say "yeah, pieces come in, get fitted to a blade, gripped, and there you go", and on a very superficial level, that's a good summary. It is WAY more involved than that. The skill of each of these craftsmen and the teamwork and effort that goes into these swords is nothing short of amazing. I loved my swords before - now, they're even more amazing.

Here's the quick rundown of the process - even this won't do it any justice...

The piece is researched, and a concept is made up, then refined.
The blade is prototyped, and fittings made.
The design is reviewed and tweeked.
Once the piece is given a green light, it enters production.
Waxes for the hilt components are made, then molds to replicate the wax are made - this is a very neat process.
Waxes are made, and each one is hand finished, cleaned up to make good castings from.
Castings are made.
Blades are made, ground, heat treated, finished. All blades are QC'd by at least 2 sets of eyes...
Castings are cleaned up (castings are well done, but they aren't nearly as pretty as they look on finished swords - we don't think about this - also, the better the mold, the better the waxes. The better the waxes, the better the castings. The better the castings, the better the finished piece... everyone depends on/builds upon the efforts of the rest!)
Cross and pommel are fitted to the blade - a lot of care is put into this to get things right... gentle persuasion.
The swords then go to get grip cores put on and get the leather grip applied. Each one is done with hand cut leather, risers applied carefully...
Once complete, the swords again get a careful look before going to the shipping area.

Bottom line - your sword comes from a very insightful and knowledgeable concept, passes through a lot of very skilled hands through a lot different processes before coming to you. I thought I appreciated this process before I saw it happen. I didn't know the magnitude and complexity... Now, I'm pretty impressed.



Another amazing part of the trip was spending Thanksgiving with Eric and his family, Harlan and his daughter, and Peter. Over a ton of Turkey, every kind of pie I could think of, and some good cognac, we really had a blast discussing swords, WMA, history, and generally solving the world's problems. First holiday I've had off in about 8 years... this was a very special way to spend it.



Pieces I saw in progress or finished - Lady V (finished - NEAT, quick handling piece), SoSMT (saw the first waxes from the mold, and the sword mocked up), and the messers. Oh, God... those messers... pure, truly insane, delicately evil dance... These are NOT hackers... they are wicked finesse pieces, with which a skilled swordsman could simply take an opponent apart at the hinges with a graceful display. I've got my order in for the Knecht, which totally, totally won me over the instant I held it. This one won't be around long...



At any rate, I can't begin to say how wonderful the trip turned out to be. I learned so much from everyone there... from the vision and business through Mike, Howy, Amy, and Harlan, to the forging and grinding lessons from Jason, Joe and Harlan, to the waxes and casting from Peter and Carl, to the cutlery work from Eric, Joel, and John, to the gas welding, metal fitting and scabbard discussions and lessons from Peter and Kevin, to the historical and theory discussions with Peter, Eric, and Harlan... Unreal.

A very heartfelt and sincere thank you to all my friends in New Glarus!

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Tue 29 Nov, 2005 8:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm glad you had a great time Aaron but I knew you would. Big Grin
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Tue 29 Nov, 2005 8:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, envious and jealous would be understating it: WOW, we will have to pump you for information and fun stories for a while.

Seriously the envy is friendly and under control: Only wish we could all have been there ! ( Well me mostly. Razz Laughing Out Loud )

One serious learning experience and really cool getting to put faces and voices and smiles on all those long distance friends.

After all that Hurricane business I'm really glad that you got to have this much fun.

Any pictures ????

Well, I'm really happy for you. Cool Big Grin

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




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Tue 29 Nov, 2005 8:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Did they take you down to the dungeon?
"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Aaron Schnatterly




Location: New Glarus, WI
Joined: 16 Feb 2005
Reading list: 67 books

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PostPosted: Tue 29 Nov, 2005 9:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Well, envious and jealous would be understating it: WOW, we will have to pump you for information and fun stories for a while.

One serious learning experience and really cool getting to put faces and voices and smiles on all those long distance friends.

It was a heck of a lot of fun, and man did it open my eyes to things on a totally different level.

I learned a ton - I literally had to decompress each night and sift through all the things I learned... some of which, I hadn't even realized I had learned until later... some of that assimilation going on, seeing connections and a flow of things...

Funny thing - it's really true, Jean... all of these folks have been friends for a while - some of them I just hadn't met or spoken with before. Now, I'm looking forward to September, when I get to catch them all again... if I have to wait that long.

[quote=Jean Thibodeau"]Any pictures ??[/quote]
Don't think so... really didn't cross my mind until late yesterday when Amy asked...

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Fortior Qui Se Vincit
(He is stronger who conquers himself.)
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Aaron Schnatterly




Location: New Glarus, WI
Joined: 16 Feb 2005
Reading list: 67 books

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Posts: 1,244

PostPosted: Tue 29 Nov, 2005 9:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
Did they take you down to the dungeon?

Eek!

Like 9 stories down into the pits, I think. Gets a bit... spooky down there.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Allan Senefelder
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Location: Upstate NY
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PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov, 2005 7:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't forget the true highlight of your trip and night out on the town with Mr. Mikey!
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Aaron Schnatterly




Location: New Glarus, WI
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PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov, 2005 12:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Allan Senefelder wrote:
Don't forget the true highlight of your trip and night out on the town with Mr. Mikey!


Mike's idea of a "small" Captain and Coke is about a half gallon... knock back a handfull of those... Razz

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Fortior Qui Se Vincit
(He is stronger who conquers himself.)
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Patrick Kelly




Location: Wichita, Kansas
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PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov, 2005 12:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
Mike's idea of a "small" Captain and Coke is about a half gallon... knock back a handfull of those... Razz


I'm familiar with that phenomena. Eek!

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Aaron Schnatterly




Location: New Glarus, WI
Joined: 16 Feb 2005
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Posts: 1,244

PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov, 2005 12:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Patrick Kelly wrote:
I'm familiar with that phenomena. Eek!

I'm sure you are... we almost called you, but it wasn't 02:00 hrs, and we weren't at Sportsman's... Wink We did think of you, though.

There was another "event" that I'd love to make a tradition... Otard and pie with Peter and Eric.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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M. Taylor




Location: Chesterland, Ohio
Joined: 01 Mar 2004

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PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov, 2005 3:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron, that sounds like a fantastic time. You definitely deserve it after what you went through. Can't wait to see those 'surprises'.

Nathan, I think you need to add an 'insane jealousy' emoticon so that we can express our true feelings. Happy

"Only people not able to grow tall from their own efforts and achievements seek to subdue their fellow man."
"Only people not being able to find comfort in their own mind seek to silence others. " - Per Bylund
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Aaron Schnatterly




Location: New Glarus, WI
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PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov, 2005 4:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Taylor wrote:
Aaron, that sounds like a fantastic time. You definitely deserve it after what you went through. Can't wait to see those 'surprises'.

Most definitely was a great time - both in and out of the shop.

There is a lot going on behind the scenes there, with some projected offerings for '06 - '07 that should be awesome. What I will comment on, though, are the Messers, Falchion, and SoSMT.

SoSMT: This is a big blade, neatly executed, and the fittings are also bigger than I had pictured. Should be a neat piece when it's fitted in steel and gripped - all I got to see was the prototype blade (with engravings) and the mock-up with the first round of waxes that Harlan and Carl managed.

Falchion: The Vassal is a bit handier than I had anticipated, and that's without the actual fittings. Balanced out a prototype blade with clay, so I could get an approximate feel. I find it cool, but probably not for me. That's a personal taste thing, and in no way a comment on the piece itself. Blade is extremely complex - Jason and Joe will have their hands full grinding these, but I'm certain they will come through. Both guys are very, very good at what they do.

Messers: The Meister is pretty nasty. It's nothing at all what I thought it would be. Peter was working on the waxes for it while I was working on a scabbard, and we discussed the messers (and a bunch of other stuff Wink ). If this trips your trigger, you will be more than happy. I like the Knecht better - again, personal preference. This is another of the "holy crap, this is wicked-nasty" pieces - the instant I was able to handle this (again, mocked up with clay), I was sold. There is nothing anywhere that comes close to these two (and the Vassal) anywhere else.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Steve Grisetti




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov, 2005 4:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron, was this the Vocation Vacation thing, or just a visit? It sounds like you had a fabulous time, and, like probably everyone else here, I envy you. Happy
"...dismount thy tuck, be yare in thy preparation, for thy assailant is quick, skilful, and deadly."
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Aaron Schnatterly




Location: New Glarus, WI
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PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov, 2005 5:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Grisetti wrote:
Aaron, was this the Vocation Vacation thing, or just a visit? It sounds like you had a fabulous time, and, like probably everyone else here, I envy you. Happy

This was a vacation, a trip to visit friends (all of whom happen to work at Albion). I really needed to get away - this was the first holiday I've actually had off and was able to do something with in about 8 years. The opportunity to explore and learn like I did was a major bonus!

Most definitely, this will be one of the most fondly remembered holidays I'll ever have.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Eric McHugh
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PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov, 2005 7:55 pm    Post subject: The pleaure was all ours...         Reply with quote

Aaron,

It was really great having you join us for Thanksgiving. Thanks for all the nice comments, and come back anytime.

Patrick, we sure missed you. We thought of you often...especially when deer would walk across the road... ;-)

Best,

Eric

Find me on Facebook, or check out my blog. Contact me at eric@crownforge.net or ericmycue374@comcast.net if you want to talk about a commission or discuss an available piece.
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Patrick Kelly




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PostPosted: Wed 30 Nov, 2005 8:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Eric wrote:
Patrick, we sure missed you. We thought of you often...especially when deer would walk across the road... ;-)


You had to go there didn't you? Razz

"In valor there is hope.".................. Tacitus
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Anton de Vries





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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 1:14 am    Post subject: Re: Wicked-cool Thanksgiving         Reply with quote

Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
No, I won't let them out of the bag...

Come on man, you know you want to! Spill the beans! Stop torturing us. Please.
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Aaron Schnatterly




Location: New Glarus, WI
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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 5:39 am    Post subject: Re: Wicked-cool Thanksgiving         Reply with quote

Anton de Vries wrote:
Aaron Schnatterly wrote:
No, I won't let them out of the bag...

Come on man, you know you want to! Spill the beans! Stop torturing us. Please.

Can't. It's not my place to make product announcements - have to leave that up to Howy and Peter.

I'll put it this way, though... Albion has put out a bundle of new models in '05, and there are a good few still in the works in various stages. The pace for '06 and '07 may not be as heavy numbers-wise, but there is some insane stuff in the works which will increase the breadth and depth of their offerings. There's a tangible creative force in that shop, and new ideas are being explored constantly. Skills, knowledge, techniques, research... all of these are constantly evolving. Peter brings some magic to the table, too... can't wait for another opportunity to visit with him (probably next September if not before).

Bottom line - there are some bad-ass things in the works - lots to look forward to.

-Aaron Schnatterly
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Greg Griggs




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PostPosted: Fri 02 Dec, 2005 9:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aaron,
Well, I've waited several days to send you my congrats on what sounds like a wonderful time. Why wait? 'Cause I'm jealous as hell. Haven't had a real vacation in so long I'm not sure what the word really means, ROFL. After hearing about Albion's inner workings from PK I'm really glad you got to see it and meet with all those guys. Be well!

Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
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