JT Palikkö, a master knifesmith and master swordsmith from Finland. JT had a lot of extremely well-made swords at hand, highly polished to a high lustre, and I was actually amazed to learn that those were made from high-layer damascus. He recycles a lot of high - carbon steel, too, and many of his damascus blades are actually made from historical spring steel. This is a craftsman to be mentioned in the same line as those ancestors who forged swords. Plus, he´s a friendly, crazy guy, and I really liked to chat with him.
JT, this was a jolly meeting! Thanks for that!
The guy next to him was of the same stamp;-). Maihkel Eklund from Sweden presented his extremely well-finished damascus, three-layer laminate and mono steel knife blades, knives, and axes / hatchets, among the latter this outright crazy interpretation of a mini hatchet:
Matthias Maresch, a former student of Uli Hennicke, and his lovely companion. I really like the fluent lines of his knives that are aesthetically appealing but not impractical.
Mr. Lasky, a Hungarian maker, and what did I find there?
Visit his shop here.
He also makes nice art knives, not my piece of cake, but there´s a gallery here. Again, we had a nice talk, and blimey, I did not manage to see all there was to see. One day certainly is a bit short with all the people to meet!
Peter Abel, and I can say, he has a kind of humour that is illegal as felony in 48 states of the US*ggg* no offence meant, by the way. I simply like him, for he´s a friendly guy, and a master smith ready and eager to share his knowledge. He always answers questions, even if you don´t buy anything and linger around with a camera to take lousy pics of his booth. He offers blacksmithing tutorials and material for gas forges, forges, knifemaking and a lot of special knowledge. Here he offers everything you might possibly need as a knifemaker and goodies for the blacksmith.
Mr. Fazekas, meanwhile a kind of aquaintance of mine, for we meet several times a year, and always exchange some politeness. Mr. Fazekas is a friendly man with a calm air and amazing skills as a knifemaker and blacksmith.
Peter Johnsson. I missed his lecture on sword making, and I regret the fact, but not the fact that I missed it while talking to JT Palikkö and Maihkel Eklund. However, Peter is another very great individual that I had had the privilege to meet several years earlier, a very reflected person with-must I really rant on endlessly about his skills as a swordsmith? He is a legend, but well down-to-earth. You can get his works as functional replicas at Albion amoury at a reasonable, albeit not cheap prices, but I daresay it would be better that not every punk can afford one of these weapons;-), for they are as deadly as their historical ancestry. Most interesting, however, are his theoretical works, which have thoroughly enlightened my technical understanding as well as my understanding of medieval martial arts, culture and literature. It is always funny to ask visitors in the smithy how heavy they would estimate a medieval sword. The funniest guess I got was 25 kg! I once did not know the correct number, too, but Peter Johnsson was the one shedding light into the topic years ago. And even if my guess was much closer to the mark, I would never have understood there were swords as light as 500-700 g, and the physics of swordplay were far from the clumsy dance we are led to believe from stage combat. Learning from his scriptures certainly has made me rethink utility knife design, too. So, Peter, you have influenced me very much, and thanks for that!
On I went, and came towards the booth of Gerhard Wieland. Ever since I saw his first official works;-) in the early Messerforum, I was amazed by the harmony of his design, the flowing, almost art nouveau - like lines and the meticulous craftsmanship. His knives preserve the air of the archaic while being far from rustic.
Andreas Schweickert is famous for his very eloquent Wootz-knives, but also his simpler designs. I was amazed by this knife. If you have read my blog, you know that I am quite fond of this style of knife. But to date I have never accomplished something as eloquent as this! My respect goes to the maker, for I know what stands behind it!
Kyudo demo going on. It was fascinating to see the meditative air of the drawing and shooting. Hitting the target is a goal, but not of priority. Even as important is the process of breathing, aiming, and concentrating. It is commonly known that Zen archers are able to hit the target blindfolded, and I relate this to the setting of different priorities. One could say that the target is secondary, because it will be hit in any case. It was simply great to see meditation in practice.
Achim Wirtz, Norbert Bahls, and my own personal mentor and tutor, Matthias Zwissler, where they had a Tatara oven running.
Norbert Bahls, then Mrs. Wirtz (presumeably), and Achim Wirtz.
Then suddenly we went outside, and Willy and I had a good chat in a nearby café, and we talked a lot about what we had seen, about old times and the times that are yet to come. It was a great day with great people, with old and new aquaintances and, more important, a feeling of being someone and belonging somewhere.
Face it: I am a freak of nature. Be it in my job, in my social life, in my leisure, I have always been an outcast, and the so-called normal people have not held back their opinion about the value of my doings and whereabouts. I have been mobbed even in the Kindergarten, in school, in my job, even in the clubs I founded and helped found.
But fire and steel is something else than leisure. It goes deeper and deeper into the deepest regions of my soul. It would not stop if I could not forge anymore. For I, for one DO have a soul. I do not belong to the people I met, and they don´t belong to me, and most of them would laugh at me for trying to find these words. But they, in turn, belong to fire and steel. There´s not much more to say about that. If you cannot feel it, every word is futile, and futile it is also to tell it to those who can feel it. If you work with steel and fire, if you allow it to scar you, to burn you, and don´t give up fighting, chance is, you will eventually be able to hear the song.
The song of steel, as pathetic as this might sound. But I cannot say it in any other way. The expo was full of people trying to listen. I have to apologize to them for trying to speak about something which is not to be spoken about, for talk is cheap.
To the forge, then.