In Taramundi were not only forged blades and knives, also scissors, and one of the masters who made and we dedicated tribute today after being retired is Antonio Diaz Alvarez.
Antonio was born in the small village of Batribán, located in the municipality of Villanueva de Oscos, near Taramundi, where he now resides.
He was born in Batribán village, council of Villanueva de Oscos in 1948 learned the trade of Pedrín de Bres, Pedro Bermudez, who was his brother in law, and began developing knives in early 1975.
By then, weekends used to spend Galician resellers. They bought goods to sell at fairs and shops. One day a reseller proposed to Antonio «if I could made scissors for him». Although he had never done, he had seen countless times to Samuel Arruñada – a great craftsman, teacher and resident of the village of Nogueira – and he knew they were done perfectly. When the retailer offered about 1.000 pesetas per piece, of course, he accept without hesitation. Please note that with practice Antonio could do in one day about 12 pieces.
One day my wife came fascinated from Antonio Díaz Bermúdez workshop, son of Antonio Diaz Alvarez. He had seen Antonio’s Father doing scissors. From what I had read, I knew in Taramundi some craftsman had done scissors, but I thought there was no one making them now, so I told my wife it was a unique opportunity to make photographs, and that’s peers, we organize the story that we share today. We had stayed with him in Vega de Llan, which had been his workshop, where now his son Antonio Diaz, known forges his knives.
It was a beautiful sunny day, and son Antonio was working non-stop for a second, as usual. Upon seeing us, saluted and shot saying, «I’ll tell my father that you have come.» Instantly both generations entering through the workshop door. Antonio father came to leave sheep grazing. We turned, and while I prepared the camera he headed a dark wall behind the forge, and reached a dismantled scissors. Were gems forged by Samuel himself Arruñada. He had seen a picture of the work of Samuel, but it was smaller, sewing scissors. These were larger, such as tailor Antonio in photography holds in his hand.
He began to organize his «ferramenta»(tools); ordered the hammer and «talladeira» over the anvil, introduced a steel sheet in the fire of the forge, and after a while he was shaping the steel.
Already with the first hammer blows, revealed the security acquired over the years.
After a while he started toward the entrance and started a mechanical jewel, an ancient mechanical hammer which he had rescued from oblivion. – «I had a fellow Pontenova disused fixed it until today.»
After a few bumps in the mechanical hammer, went back to incus beginning a stage of slow and precise process that took time.
Blow after blow with great skill began to glimpse a cutting tool.
Once satisfied, he placed on the preform «a talladeira», wedge cut that fits on the anvil, and applied a couple of blows with great intensity that marked the sheet, and then break it by applying a little bending.
The hand grips
After heating the preform again in the furnace to soften the metal, he used the mechanical hammer to lower the volume of the back, gradually forming what will become the handhold of scissors.
Once the form has been lowered about an inch thick, back to the anvil, where he begins to hammer while turning the piece with tweezers and make small adjustments to the angles and straightens the lines of form.
Now starts a unique stage of the scissors development of which gives it one of its most recognizable features thanks to which we can get them.
Begin to bend the tapered shape using the tapered end of the anvil, twisting it around with small and insistent beats.
And voilà, unaware one counts, and almost suddenly, out of nowhere comes the shape of the handhold where’ll grab the scissors.
Unsigned, no author or recognition.
Truly, one of the moments that leave footprints, it’s definitely marking it on with the unmistakable stamp of its author.
In this case a symbol in Taramundi, and like everything else, has its history. As a graphic designer, I am compelled to said that the «A» surrounded by 12 points used by this family is to me pure harmony.
Antonio advantage that the sheet is still hot, for marking the axis of scissors pivot with a punch.
Antonio has wandered into the window, grabbed a heavy block of iron with the size of a brick, that seemed to come from a stretch of railway track. He placed it on the anvil, and supporting the blade of the scissors on a split, began to form in a concave surface blade hitting the tip of the hammer.
This form will help the court to occur without resistance at the contact point of the sharp edges.
Once terminated yield concave shaped leaves, he then addressed to the end of the workshop and launched a small whetstone desktop.
Using a small handy with a notch, to keep the blade of the scissors against the grindstone, began to shape the leaves. It was a good time flipping back and forth, from one side and another, until satisfied killed the engine.
He then addressed the other side of the counter that runs the window; of course with incredible views of the Llan valley; adjusted the two sheets as would work together with a caliper brackets set, ordered the assembly under the drill press, and drilled the hole through which the rotation axis would run makes functional scissors.
Of course there is no hardness without quenching, as well he introduced the leaves again in the forge, and one by one, dipped in hot oil pan, causing a whistling sound when firing temperature.
Already consolidated and laying a beautiful bluish color, leaf seemed to feel fresh and relaxed waiting their turn to be sharpened.
Dressed with his raincoat and riding his whetstone, Antonio remained a good while sharpening the blades.
With good weather and hot is appreciated the fresh water that is thrown by the inertia of the wheel, but in winter with wet and cold in the area, is another story.
Once finished sharpening, he dropped the leaves in a bucket of lime to prevent the oxidation of the carbon steel, and after removing the raincoat and dry a bit, he grabbed a handful of sawdust from the floor of the remains of the handles, and he rubbed the sheets to withdraw moisture.
The provided sharp leaves a glossy shine and a very special contrast highlighted by the sun from the window.
With the blades very dry and sharp, it was time to put them together forever. Antonio reached a small cardboard box containing window washers and a nail cut to size, which would function axes.
He agreed both leaves holes, placed a washer centered in the hole, introduced the bolt, and on supporting the whole on a gag, he crossed the washer between both leaves with a hammer.
Then he grabbed the protruding end of the shaft with the clamp, and cut the excess with a hacksaw. He slid another washer and with the hammer finally clinched the head joining scissors.
We could not miss a first hand sharpened edge for a precise and clean cut. Of course this ritual should be performed periodically with delicacy and precision to maintain a prefect fit cut.
Antonio came the scissors to his ear and while he opened and closed, he listening the sound it made contacting both sheets along the entire route. Music to he’s the ears.
Finally, and as a finishing touch, a varnished to protect from moisture and highlight the metal surface.
Without proof there is no crime, and the scissors was undoubtedly guilty of limpid, and precise cut that violated for no easy cutting a tissue.
This experience has been unforgettable for us, considering that this master of Taramundi is now retired.
Here is this shared knowledge peers.
Thank you very much Antonio.
Photos by Carlos Riera
Texts by Florence Cornille and Carlos Riera
Sección de Tijeras