Welcome to the Wareham Forge, the work of Artisan Blacksmith Darrell Markewitz of Ontario Canada. Here traditional hand forged techniques are blended with original custom designs to create distinctive objects for garden or architecture. (What is called 'wrought iron work' by some.) A specialist in the Viking Age, creating reproductions for Museums and re-enactors. Offering training courses various aspects of Metalsmithing, plus instructional DVD's.
                Wareham Forge

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The Burgess Shale in SE British Columbia is an absolutely unique deposit, rich in fossils, which dates to roughly 500 million years ago. First, the fine silt which eventually turned to stone has faithfully recorded even the soft tissues of the animals that once lived there. And what animals! Creatures from the 'Cambrian Explosion' show a bewildering array of types and body plans. The result of sudden evolution after a major extinction event, most types never survived into later ages. Some are so strange, so outright bizarre, that to our modern eyes they look to be the product of a crazed dream. The pieces in this newer series are inspired by these wonderful fossils.

A reconstruction of the Burgess Shale site during the Cambrian explosion. Painting by D. W. Miller
Loading from a posting by John Brunno on the Climate Shifts blog.
With all the Series pieces, earliest work is placed at the top.
'Sea Bug' - Hallucigenia No. One
Summer 2009

(this object available - $500)

This was the first piece in the Hallucigenia series. Although not nearly as wierd as the real Hallucigenia (artist's interpretation to the right), it is strange enough. A set of overlapping plates make up the torso, ending in a long segmented tail. Are those legs or tenticles? Is this some proto crustation, ancestrial insect, or just what. This monster is about 90 cm / 35 inches long. It has been left un-treated so it will naturally weather with time.

'Spine Bench' - Hallucigenia No. Two
Summer 2010

(this object available - $700)

The inspiration for this piece started with seeing fish skeletons washed up along a bearch. Imagine a series of curved ribs, linked along a spine. But here the creature has not yet develped a boney spine like modern animals, but instead has a cable like nerve cord, twined together to permit maximum flexibility. The individual ribs are made from aggressively forged flat bar. To finish, the metal is painted a dark chocolate brown.
Initially the piece had as a top a heavy piece of solid pine, some three inches thick. On the advice of friend and fellow smith John Burton, I replaced the massive slab with a thinner wide plank of African Paduk wood. One end of the plank had been eatten away by termites, a distortion that adds to the primitive feel of the table.
The finished table stands about 18 inches tall, with the top about 15 inches wide by 48 long (38 x 40 x 120 cm)

Burgess Crab - Hallucigenia No. Three
forged mild steel bar and sheet
Summer 2011
This is the third in my ongoing series of pieces inspired by the fantastic creatures found in the Burgess Shale. The overall design inspiration was the spine and body of a horseshoe crab.

This piece was created specifically for the 'Joined by Joints' category at CanIRON 8. I decided work from the *concept* of a joint, rather than the *function* of a joint - in this case the 'loop and wedge' technique. I also wanted to aggressively forge each of the elements, so much so that the profile of the starting bars would be completely transformed. The individual shell pieces are the only element that use a completely modern tool - these were torch cut from plate then ground to smooth lines. The folding technique here uses rivets to secure the lines. The two shell pieces and the spine are also riveted together. The curved 'antenna' elements work as wedges to secure in place against the central hoop piece. 'Burgess Crab' has been finished with a satin varithane coating, to preserve the natural fire scale colours.

'Burgess Crab' is now in the collection of J. Koza Ttee, who decided to purchase the work on its very first public showing.

'Crinoid' - Hallucigenia No. Four
f orged mild steel with commercial glass, natural stone base
Winter 2012

The starting point here was a set of small thimble sized glass holders for long thin 1/4 inch diameter candles.
A big influence was also some unique limestone pieces I had picked up just off the ferry dock at Port Bay Mouth on Manitoulin Island two years back. The soft stone bears half circular wear patterns, which makes the stone appear sand blasted and full of one inch diameter pits. I had been considering making some smaller sculptural pieces using these stones as bases.

The completed sculpture sits about 12 inches tall. The three arms are forged from 1/4 inch square stock, although no part of the original profile remains. The metal work has the original forge scale surface covered with a clear lacquer coating, giving it a dark 'wet' looking appearance.

It was a big surprise for me that this piece was purchased almost the same day I placed up a short commentary about it on my blog, and an image on Facebook!

Images to the right:
Platycrinites niotensis - Diminutive Crawfordsville Crinoid
Taken from ' Famous Crawfordsville Crinoids' on the Fossil Mall web site
Artist's impression of fossil criniods
Taken from Guide for ' Beginning Fossil Hunters ' on the Illinois State Geological Survey web site

'Hallucigenia' - Hallucigenia No. Five
Summer 2012

(this object available - $500)

The starting point here was actually a pail full of offcut pieces of forged pipe, left over from work on the architectural project on the Reade-Maxwell House. Returing to the various illustrations of the defining 'Hallucigenia' organism, the sauceage shaped tubes were attached to short forged spikes to form the legs. A body was formed by agressively forging a lenght of channel, plus two pieces of angle. The short pinched pieces became the ridges along the spine.
The whole scupture runs about 36 inches (90 cm) long. Like most of the series, it has been left un-treated so it will naturally weather with time.

'Pentapus' - Hallucigenia No. Six
Winter 2013

(this object available - $300)

During a workshop session with Kelly Probyn-Smith, I started playing around with using various dies and surface texturing tools to alter the surfaces of bars. One prototype that emerged from this suggested a line of suckers down a long tenticle. I had a number of smoothly polished beach stones I had picked up somewhere on my travels, intending to incorporate these into forged pieces.
One of the stones forms the body of 'Pentapus'. In keeping with the general concept of alternative animal body plans in this series, this playfull creature has five tenticles, not the eight of modern squids and octopi.
This sculputure stands about 35 cm (14 inches) tall. Again it has been left with the natural fire scale finish to allow it to weather with time..

'Roller' - Hallucigenia No. Seven
Summer 2013

What if it was not legs, but wheels, that Burgess animals evolved? 'Roller' has a flexible spine, which may prove a bit of a reason why ease of motion (only sideways!) is why this creature never survived to the modern age?

The starting point for 'Roller' was my accumulation of those clear plastic disks that come with every package of blank CD / DVD's. A series of short cut tube pieces space individual disks along a section of wire cable. Both ends terminate in a long forged spike. Overall about 60 cm (24 inches) long.

Who is Darrell Markewitz?


Unless otherwise indicated :
All text and photographs Darrell Markewitz, the Wareham Forge.