If you had told me even a year ago my daughter would be the young woman she is today, I would not have believed it. She has done remarkable things and learned much about who she is and who she wants to be that she didn’t know even as recent as 9 months ago.
I have always made stuff. For as long as I can remember (back to age 3) I have always been driven to take things apart or make things. By the time I was 6 if I didn’t have projects I was working on or things I was thinking about making, I would go stir crazy. I think I was 7 when I declared I wanted a pet snake and had the money to buy it. My mother asked what I would keep it in, and I confidently declared I would build a cage. I seem to recall she chuckled a little and said, “Ok if you build a cage you can have a snake.” With the scrap pile out back and the tools in the shed, I think it took me most of the next day to design and build the snake cage.
Unlike me, my daughter did not appear to have such a drive. So I made sure not to push my interests onto her, and always encouraged her to explore things and figure out who she was. I always had things I was working on and have always had quite a bit of tools around, but she never seemed to take much more than a passing interest in what I was doing. Then the last semester of high school, out of the blue, she decides to take wood shop and metal shop. She had decided to “try something new.” Much to my surprise and delight, she loved both of those classes. In fact, she enjoyed them so much she went out of her way to spend extra time at school working on projects.
Since she graduated a couple of months ago, she has been trying to figure out where she wants to take her life. The full force of being done with mandated school and the reality of being in charge of her own destiny dawned on her. As can be expected, it was a bit overwhelming. In passing I mentioned I knew where she could take a Japanese sword forging class in August, if she would be interested. (I did this knowing that she would have to drive herself 7 hours away, camp for a week, and completely take care of herself while being distracted from this by the lessons.) I was a bit surprised by how enthusiastically she took to the idea of learning to forge swords. Within 2 days she had decided to spend most of the money she had in savings and had signed up for one of the 4 spots in the August basic forging class at Tomboyama Nihonto Tanren Dojo.
Last week, she spent the entire week operating outside of her comfort zone. She returned a much more relaxed and confident young adult for the experience. Not only that, but she did a wonderful job on the sword she made in class. It isn’t easy to forge and grind swords. It is very easy, when you start, to twist them, and keeping all the flats straight and neat takes some skill. I was very impressed by the level of workmanship displayed in the sword.
By my daughter’s account, Michael Bell is a wonderful instructor. (I know this to be true as I had the pleasure of watching him demo at a local hammer in many years ago.) Also from her stories, it is evident that Mr. Bell and his family were a pleasure to be around, and this is from my daughter who until now didn’t like going to NEW places or doing NEW things. As I said above, she spent a week outside her comfort zone.
In closing I give you a picture of the end product from her week of class:
NAGASA: 18.5 inches
SORI: 7/16 inch measured 16 inches from the point
NAKAGO: 5.5 inches
I have no idea on the style of HAMON as it is still in foundation polish
[as usual click the thumbnail to enlarge]: