Saturday, 8 September 2012

Pure Iron Jewellery: maintenance & care

When wearing iron jewelry, you can take two distinct approaches on how you treat it. Neither approach is better than the other. They are different paths and which one you take is your choice. 

You can choose to let time & the environment take its toll and appreciate the full beauty of the item while it lasts. Eventually the metal will rub against your skin and clothes and start to polish around the edges into a grey metallic colour, beautiful in its own right, but different. This way you can be witness to the natural process of age. Depending on how much you wear your jewellery this can take about one to two years.

Alternatively you can choose to maintain its present state, to enjoy the beauty longer. This article tells you how.

Keep Iron dry

Iron as a metal is not as stable as gold or silver. When it comes into contact with oxygen in the air or water, it will try to combine with the oxygen to create an iron oxide. We know this as rust. This is the reason why you seldom see iron in its naked state.  Iron is protected in various ways: paints, glazes, varnishes, oils and waxes or even using rust itself. 

The material we use, 99.8% pure iron offers one level of protection. The lack of carbon in the metal makes it naturally more resistant to rust. Your body offers another rust preventing aid. The warmth you generate will dry the pendant long before rust can form. This means that you do not need to take the pendant off, even if you go swimming, just as long as you remember to rinse the salt or chemicals off after in a shower.

We use two methods to finish our jewellery: a varnish for the coloured items and a very traditional forge oxide for the black iron.

Black Iron

The black surface is an oxide (rust) that forms onto the surface of the metal when it is heated. As it has already reacted with oxygen it will not rust again.

Rust can form under the layer and at parts that are exposed by wear. This is why the black oxide has been sealed onto the iron by oil quenching, effectively rapidly drying on a layer of oil and sealing the black oxide. This may be the oldest ever method for preserving iron work and it is still used today.

Lastly we give the iron one more layer of protection in the form of a traditional bee's wax polish. It also gives the surface a nice sheen. If you wish the black surface to last longer, you can occasionally apply a similar wax onto the iron. It is also a very good idea to wax the iron prior to storing it for longer periods of time.

Colour & Varnish

The subtle shades of blue, purple and ochre are also formed in the heat. For knife makers they are the indicators of the correct tempering temperatures. The colour is only on the very surface of the iron. 

The colours are beautiful, but transient in nature. I do my best to protect them by using several thin layers of varnish, producing a glossy finish. 

These layers will eventually wear off as they rub against clothes and skin.  You can prolong the life of your pendant by wearing it only on special occasions or by re-applying a varnish as soon as you can see signs of wear. A hard wearing nail varnish can be applied after giving the pendants a wipe with acetone based nail polish remover. Avoid getting either on the cord.

Protecting the Leather

Leather is a natural product and can vary greatly in strength. Strength is greatly affected by how dry the leather gets.

Wearing a leather cord continuously, especially when swimming in the sea or a chlorinated pool can dry it quickly. So it is important to feed the leather as soon as it feels dry.

Specialist leather foods and oils can be bought, but you can also use almond or olive oil. Apply a little bit onto your hands and run the the cord gently through the oil. Dry the excess.  

Our Restoration Service

If you would like your pendant or necklace cleaned of rust, returned back to black or colour, or the leather cord replaced you are welcome to send it to back to us. This offer stands for jewellery we have made as long as we are around and have a place to work. We do not charge for it separately, but we do ask you to pay for the shipping.

If you would like to take us up on our offer, please contact us to arrange a return. We will need to give you specific instructions on how to fill in the customs form. Regrettably we will not be able to accept any parcels sent to us with the incorrect details due to the import costs.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at We love to hear from you and we love to find out ways in which we can improve our product or service. 

All rights reserved, 2015.  Marleena Barran, Taitaya Forge

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Stories: The Great Oak of the Kalevala

When the world was new, the land was bare, and no trees grew. Old man Vainamoinen called upon the seeds to be sown. All the trees took, except for the one: the hallowed Oak. For three days and nights old man Vainamoinen swore and shouted, frustrated by the seashore, but still the Oak would not grow. Then out of the waves came Turisas, the mighty sea monster. He took some grass of the shore and burned it into ash. And Into the ash he placed an acorn and from that acron a seedling grew.

The seedling waxed and grew, it became the Great Oak. The Oak grew so big that it blocked out the sun & moon, it seized the clouds and winds in their paths. The world became dark, still, void of light. Old man Vainamoinen wondered; Who would be as mighty to cut down the Great Oak? No one could do it, try as they might.

So old man Vainamoinen spoke, called upon mother Nature to send forth many a strong man from the Water Folk. It was then that out of the sea a tiny man came forth, all clad in bronze. With him he had a tiny bronze axe, the head the size of a fingernail and the handle the length of a thumb. Old man Vainamoinen doubted. A single man, so small, could not bring down the Oak so tall, but as soon as he spoke the tiny man had grown large, turned into a giant. With just three blows the giant felled the Great Oak.

So it was that who would break a branch of that tree, would gain luck forever. Who would have the top of that mighty Oak would have an everlasting charm. And who would cut the Great Oak's leaf would get love for ever more.

Silver Oak Leaf Bangle

This story is my translation from the Kalevala. As always with translating, it is also an interpretation. 

The bracelet in this post and other Oak leaf inspired jewelry can be found for sale in my Etsy shop.

Marleena Pontynen