I left Oregon and made the drive home, allowing myself a luxurious two weeks off before having to pack up and head off to my next adventure. This one, however, took me to the terrifying foreign wasteland of Quebec. Unfortunately, my cell phone camera was broken and so almost all of my pictures are blurry, or partially blurry.
While I spent a month in Canada, I'm only going to cover the two classes I took with Fusataro on this particular entry.
Traveling up to Canada was about what one would expect, especially trying to enter a foreign country with a couple of blades to have your teacher take a look at. Yeah, lots of standing around waiting for security people to carelessly unpack my pelican case and open every single wrapping or box. After making me stand around waiting on them for an hour. That was fun. Oh, you need to walk off with some of my expensive stuff to talk to your supervisor? Yeah, I'm ecstatic about that.
Once I am officially allowed into the country with my tools, stones, and pointy objects there was the next challenge: the special hell that is Montreal traffic. We're not going to talk about how many wrong turns and reversals were needed.
I specifically arrived a day early, because the "first" day of class was an optional period of setting up the shop and helping to get ready. Really, that mostly means chopping an insane amount of charcoal to a proper size, sorting it into bags for the class, and blowing the black shit out of your nose for the next week. Honestly, this rather tedious (but necessary) chore is actually enjoyable if you have a bunch of folks working on it together and can socialize during the process. This would be my first introduction to some of the students as well as staff of Les Forges De Montréal.
Despite arriving late (again, we're not going to talk about the wonders of being lost in an unfamiliar city) I did what I could to help out until we bailed for the day.
The actual day 1 of the class was pretty laid back; Taro spent the first part of the morning talking about the overall class goals, the first day goals, and everything else. We all had a chance to talk a bit, and received our tamahagane (and anything else ordered for classes). I want to take a moment and point out that I bought enough steel to make a katana, but with the intention of making a wakizashi and having some steel to take home for later projects. I'm still hoarding this now, waiting for a special project to use it on.
Honestly, other than my pictures, I don't have a lot of recollection of the events of class besides specific details. There was a lot of evening drinking and celebrating, as well as a wonderful heat emergency mid-way through class. What I do remember is this:
The last day there was an event at Les Forges, so we only got an overview of the smith's polish and signature phases. But, I also got to watch and talk with a professional knife sharpener there for the event, which helped reinforce some of my existing knowledge base of stonework.
All in all, I learned a lot about the process and myself during the ten days of the sword forging session and successfully left with a heat treated blade and some leftover steel. Thankfully, I had done this (on a smaller blade intentionally, anyway) back in 2016 so having gaps in my memory and photos isn't as terrible as it could have been.
I remained at Les Forges for a second class with Fusataro, but this was a more sedate knife making class using shirogami steel. Since most of the folks were veteran knife makers interested in trying a new steel and learning foreign (hah!) methods, it turned out more as a collective jam session.
We forged a test knife out of 5160 to decide on a shape we liked. Then I spent a good amount of time with my nose stuck in some reference books deciding on the shapes I liked, and ended up forging 3 small blades for the class.
We heat treated them with a coat of clay, thinned to a wash, and quenched in water. They were tempered the same way as the tamahagane blades, over the forge using a splash of water to help gauge temperature. All 3 survived.
With no time to relax, I headed out the following morning from Montreal to Floradale, On which was a 7-hour drive. But before I left, I swung by and helped clean up the shop from our two classes, and gifted the guys beer and my thanks.