Sparky And The Wheezles

The Glen Meadow Chronicles

NaNoWriMo is Halfway Done

Two weeks down, two weeks to go!


I hope that I can finish as strongly as I started out.  My word count isn't quite at the halfway point though, this last week has been very busy with other life-events that have taken up my writing time. But I have a great story and I am confident that I can pull through in time to get those 50,000 words by November 30.

Here is a little writing sample of what I did manage to get written.

Setting: In this segment, little Sabine has started her apprenticeship along side of her father Benji, who is also finishing his apprenticeship in wagon building.  Sabine has already been introduced to the blacksmith's forge where she learned how to craft the nails used in building a wagon.  In today's lesson, she is learning how to form brass fittings used in the harnesses used to pull the wagons.  She is particularly fascinated in the decorative harness bells that are requested by some customers orders.  The foreman of the foundry allows Sabine to form and pour a brass harness bell using the lost wax process.  Enjoy this little vignette I call Sabine's Bell

After a breakfast of toast with honey, eggs, potatoes, freshly squeezed apple cider, bacon, and sliced tomatoes, Sabine and Benji reported for duty.   It was still dark in the early morning twilight, they were early by fifteen minutes and they took that time to watch the night crew finish up their work.  The big chandelier high up in the rafters was burning brightly and it filled the shop with soft  bright light.  The night crew consisted of the leather workers and the wheel makers as their work didn’t create quite the noise that the blacksmiths and carpenters did.  Sabine observed the young apprentices who had just finished slitting large pieces of leather into long thin strips.  They rolled the leather strips onto a spool to be used later for making harness and straps that the teamsters would use to pull the wagons with.  Each apprentice wore a short shop apron and a razor-sharp knife in a scabbard at their side.  She wanted to converse with them, but they looked tired and she decided she would ‘talk’ to them later.  One of the apprentices, a young beaver fellow, looked up at her, squinted and gave her a strange look as if to say he didn’t feel she belonged.  Sabine just smiled back.  She wasn’t going to let a beaver-lad ruin her day.


The instructor for the day was a river otter named Belinda Bearclover, the foreman of the foundry crew.  She was a journey-level II crafter who specialized in casting all the brass parts used in making the buckles, fasteners, and decorative devices used on the harnesses.  Some of the customers often requested brass fittings on their wagons or carts such as shiney brass hinges or pull handles and Belinda’s crew could make them as fancy as the customer wanted.  Today, they were going to cast decorative bells for the harness of one customer and Sabine was instantly captivated.


Most casting was done in molds made of very fine sand mostened with oil or water.  The molds were made in two parts so that the mold patterns could be taken out before the hot metal was poured into the mold.  For making bells, the mold was formed in one piece around a wax pattern of the bell.  Plaster was used to make the mold and once the plaster set up around the wax pattern of the bell, the mold was heated to melt the wax pattern out of the mold, and to dry up any water that remained trapped in the plaster casting. Sabine got to mix the plaster and pour it around a small wax pattern for the smallest bell the shop made. When the mold was ready, she got to pour the melted brass with Belinda’s help into her mold.  The hard part of the whole process was waiting for the molten metal to cool enough to break away the mold from her bell. 


At last, Belinda handed her a sledge and showed her how to break open the plaster mold so that the brass bell inside wasn’t damaged.  Once free of the plaster, Sabine picked up the newly formed casting with foundry tongs and dunked it into a bucket of cooling water.  It was still so hot that it made a hissing sound for several seconds and sent up a plume of steam.  When it was finally cool ehough to handle, Belinda helped Sabine brush away the remaining plaster and clean out the inside of the bell.  On close inspection, Sabine noticed that the small loop inside the bell where the clapper was hung was missing and she showed Belinda. “Awe sweetie, I’m sorry, the bell is misshapen, it won’t have a voice.” She looked at Sabine and stroked her head to comfort the child. “It’s OK though, we can melt this one down and try again.”


Sabine shook her head no, took out her pad and pencil and wrote. “It is like me. There are other ways.”


Belinda was humbled by the child’s simple logic and she got choked up. “That’s right sweetie, there are other ways to make a bell have a voice, just like you.” She gave Sabine a little hug and took the bell, “Let’s cut the waste metal from the bell and I will let you clean it up and polish it on your own time.  But we still need to make a proper bell for our customer.”



Late update : I managed to push past 25,000 words by the evening!  So, I'm past the half-way point for NaNoWriMo!

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