Donnerstag, 13. Februar 2014

Fimbulmyrk in wonderland - report from Jagd& Hund Expo 2014

 Now this is it again. Many of you have waited for one of those posts and the related pics. Jagd und Hund exposition in Dortmund is one big event on my schedule each year. Last year I had a bout of the flu and could not go, and I really looked forward to this year´s expo. And what can I say - I was right to do so! This last week has left me with many impressions I want to share with you, good and not so good. To start with the not so good, I met with this gentleman.
 We really had a good-natured chat, and the knives he had on display looked very appealing to me. Looking at the prices, I was being impressed and asked in what Pakistan manufactory he had them produced. Do not get me wrong: To me many Pakistani smiths are very remarkeable craftsmen producing high - quality knives, even if they are sometimes a bit rustic, but that´s no problem with me, for I like the look of the handmade. He had these German ritual knives (Drudenmesser) on display. They were beautiful, and also came in a nice-patterned damascus variety at a bargain pice. I contemplated for a long time and finally got myself one. he told me the damascus and the knife were made in the Bayrischer Wald region out of leaf spring steel. I also purchased one of the three-layer-laminates to the right, which looked good to boot. He told me they were made from tank armour from a Czechian tank (T-55) and white paper steel. I simply cannot believe that at least the Drudenmesser is actually leaf spring steel. Having forged some of those myself, and knowing how it it looks when etched, I suspect it is forged from a machine-welded billet blank with 420J2 and 440steel, which does not mean any harm. He insisted it was leaf spring steel. Currently there´s a hot discussion amongst German knifemakers about the authenticity of his products. Of course, there´s a lot of language going on, and many custom knifemakers are doing this quite aggressively. Culprit is, I do not know if they are actually made in the Bayrischer Wald region. I do not even know what steel they are made from. I paid 70 € for a damascus blade, and people who know me might know I like to put my blades to extreme testing, and as far as I can say now, they perform quite okay. They come wickedly sharp for a blade that I suspect is mass-produced, and I like these knives well.   
 One thing remains, however. At first he said that all the knives on display were made in Germany, but it was obvious some of the knives he sold were actually identical to some knives labelled by a famous German import corporation specializing in Chinese and Pakistan blades. (Herbertz). Please get my notion well: Those are excellent knives for the price and there would be no harm done whatsoever if they´d be called by that name. But why is it everyone wants to appear more than they are? I would recommend these knives to my friends, if he just could find it in him to call them what they are: Excellent remakes of a traditional German knife, made to order out of love for tradition, that perform well enough for a price twice that high. As is, I do not believe him one word any more unless I am proven wrong.

 He also had these relief sculptures on display which I found quite interesting, too. Made somewhere in the world and maybe in Germany. Again, no harm would be done if the truth be told.
 And some felt items. Again, I cannot say where they are made. Man, they are simply okay, even if they would be produced elsewhere. We have a free market and anyone can sell anything as long as he keeps things fair to customers. I also talked to Peter Pfaffinger afterwards (pics down there). Now Peter is a very accomplished craftsman making knives meticulously by hand, in Aschau in the county of Bayern. He knows everything there is about the cultural aspect of those German ritual knives, and his homepage shows this. He told me that the gentleman above stole a design on his homepage, a magical symbol named the "Drudengatterl", to use as a master´s mark. To prove it he pointed out a pixle error in the picture on his homepage that is identical to a flaw in the mark and the corporate identity. Unfortunately I must say that he is right, and this, in my humble opinion, is very unfair. I have talked to Peter a lot and I would think he would offer any help he could offer if someone would be really interested in making ritual knives lovingly and promoting an aspect of German culture. It is a sad thing that the gentleman above would not have asked.

What makes me sad is that they both make knives that shall mean more to their owner. The knives are, from a material aspect, only different in that Peter produces one-of-a-kind works of art, and the gentleman above reasonable user knives at a bargain price. But there´s something more to it. Those are ritual knives, and thusly they are more of  a story told than an everyday artifact. One tells a story of traditional spirituality, the other bows to Mammon. We could do with more honest stories apart from the lies of the moneygod. So, in my opinion, we should stick together instead of quarrelling about lawsuits, if we are craftsmen that want to tell a story in a cold world. Peter does. The other seems to be bending the truth. If you don´t know the difference between a story and a lie, contemplate again. 
 But that was the only grain of salt, and I strolled on through the aisles enjoying myself.
 Afterwards it was very refreshing to meet with Mr. Weber again. He sells parts for knifemaking and simply well-made knives. He sells blades from Pakistani damascus and German - made damascus from Tirpitz armour alongside. He calls them what they are: The ones are bargain user knives, the others high-perfomance custom blades for the conoisseur. No problem with that. I got myself some mosaic pins.
 Then it was on towards the booth of the Hungarians, and there I met withMr. and Ms. Madaras. Janos Madaras is an accomplished knifemaker and representant of Hungarian Folk Art Association. He makes very great knives and tools, highly decorative, but also great users. Owning several of them that I really treasure, I can say, each one of them is a great piece of craftsmanship, but you also are not reluctant to actually use them.
 Folding knives from 440C and 55CrMoV blades, and fixed bushcraft and hunting knives.
 Iron age loop knives and cutlery on display.
 Woodworking tools galore!
 Damascus hunting knives made in Hungary at bargain prices, too.
 I really, really love those Hungarian folding knives, used for aes in Hungary by shepherds, hikers and hunters alike.
 Next to Mr. Madaras´booth there was the display of Joszef Fazekas, chief representant of Hunagarian knifemaker´s guild. And apart from looking at the quality of his knives, which goes without saying and which always inspires me, I always enjoy to have a chat with him. He is always ready to share his knowledge and trade a joke or two. It was great to meet you, and that "Russian superman" just made my day!;-) 
 This is Mr. Fazekas;-).
 Then I met with Rainer Grösche, and he is a perfectionist and full-time knifemaker living in Werl in Germany.
 We had a nice chat, too, and we will hopefully have a hamer-in soon. He makes those fine gentleman folders with zero tolerances and a superb quality. For better photos, visit his homepage, well worth a visit!
 I especially loved those Kwaiken knives.
 Then I met with Mr. Belenczak jun. I admired those very rustic Hungarian folding knives, but alas, I already had spent my money on other items;-).
 I love those knives, really rugged and handmade-looking!

 Then it was off to meet with Gunnar, presenting Roach Sweden and Raffir Company. Stefan, representant and Chief manager of Raffir China corporation had to visit another expo at the same time, so Gunnar asked me if I could come to help out on Thursday. I managed to arrange that and worked for him, and I had a great time. It was very good fun to be able to sell knives, and even if there were some ceramic knives involved, those other items I sold with passion. Mind you, I even sold some Pakistan damascus knives that looked suspiciously as if they were made in the county of Bayern;-).
 I had no problem whatsoever selling Mora knives. They come at a bargain price and the quality is legendary. I actually demoed a Wasa outdoor knife by chopping deer antler. After three hours(!) it finally showed some dents, but still carved iron rods. This was a testing to the extreme, for I demoed it to at least100 customers.
 The booth. All the products I really could relate to, and had a good feeling selling them. If only work could always be this honest!
 Real bargain. Now those plastic handles are dead ugly, but they are also dead functional, and generations of hunters and other outdoorsmen have used and loved them.
 We also sold some Dalhästarna, also as a kit. It was also a right pleasure to work with Gunnar, him being a very laidback and friendly guy, and might be there even was something like a friendship forged.
 Then, at the booth of Mr. Morsbach from Katzek55k corporation Solinge, where I dropped by the other day, I came across those novel knives. You can always rely on Mr. Morsbach to come up with some revolutionary, but always very, very knowledgeable and sensible ideas. Those little hunting knives come with 1.4153 Niolox blades, which are smelted with Niobium to make for an extremely fine grain structure. Mr. Morsbach also is one of the last craftsmen in Solingen capable of doing a "Kesselschen Walkschliff", a high convex bevel to zero edge line. With this steel it is possible forthe first time to do this sensibly to a stainless steel knife. I hope to do a full article soon on this knife!
 Then it was off to the Karesuando booth, and while I was a bit disappointed to not find Ulf, Kurt and Martin there, this had not in the least an effect on the fact that the guys and gals are being very, very nice and friendly, and I was fond of making their acquaintance. This is Per - Erik, Kurt´s son-in -law and new head of corporation.
 They had a load of material on display.
 And, of course, the quality of their bushcraft and Saami knives goes without saying, and what the Moras lack a bit in aesthetics they have doubly so, and are functional to boot.
A somewhat novel idea for a Leuku:
This is the custom lineup of Karesuando.

 Fire steels.
 This is Gabriele, now German distributor of Karesuando knives. She was doing demos all day long, whittling and showing the firesteel skills, and looking quite good at it. In fact, I tried to whittle one o ´those flowers myself and now have some more interesting scars to show off;-). She did far better.
 I guess this gentleman has no such problems, like cutting himself while whittling, for he is the most accomplished master of traditional German/Austrian/Romanian woodworking I have ever met. This is Mr. Virgil Culda from Jagdgalerie. Visit his homepage and enjoy!
 On through the aisles, and there I met a bear...
 ...and this prehistoric gentleman...
 And Mr. István Dorkó...
 ...specializing in extremely high lustre hunting knives.

 ...belt buckles...
There simply were too many great blades to mention them all. What strikes me as peculiar is how lovingly  they make their products out there in the east. We here tend to quarrell and fight and do the cheap trick stunt, often resulting in less than ideal products.
 Silver inlays in stag antler as a bolo - tie...
 ...damascus and mammoth ivory...
 ...and an oooooold deer. Praise be to the hornéd one!
 Mr. Kalmán Szabó was there showing his great hunting knives, custom made to request.
 ...Hungarian folding knives. Those came with a somewhat easy stay in the spring, but were good - looking to boot. I personally like them stiffer, but that´s a personal preference.
 Those linerlock folders were very great. Mr. Szabó makes them with no play and a very light action. Respect!

 One of my all-time favourites, a mushroom hunting knife with a decent blade!
 Antler carvings.
 And hunting apparel by red fox company.
 They are made from real wool with very much attention to detail.
 ...and those little critters conspirated against visitors. Mind you, I only just so came out with my life";-)
 This lovely amber boothreally fascinated me with the warm and golden gleam of the tears of Laima.;-)
 Then it was SCHNAAAAAAAPPPS at the Wilddieb booth, a herbal liquor that is really good for you;-).
 I got some, and NO, I DID NOT DRINK IT ON MY WAY HOME!!!!!*ggg*. As you might guess, I had quite some fun with the gals and the guy.
 On Saturday I took my time to visit the Bogenzeit booth again to dream about one day being an archer myself.;-) A longbow I have already made...
 ...just lack some arrows still...;-)
 But as it seems, you can now shoot without arrows;-)... virtual archery. Weird.
 I met with these gentleman from the Sauerland region, living in the neighborhood of the Veltins brewery, who actually seemed to enjoy himself in spite of being on an expo;-) we traded some jokes and went on our respective merry ways. This was nice! Nice to meet, guys.
 ...bows galore...
 ...and arrows. They also had a lot of gear on display.. but having spent most of my money already, nothing for me, then.
 Then I came across the booths of the regional forest bureau. They do a great job in educating children and adults alike with a variety of programs, not the least being fores arts programs.
 Then it was off to the booth of the order of falconers.
 I simply love those graceful birds....
 But more so it can be said for me: YOLO (You obviously love owls;-)).
 Cuties... we had a chat by owl gymnastics, and they did not like me any. They were annoyed by my jokes.
I have a strong affinity to the owl and the mythology related to them, but myths aside, look into those eyes, and all tales are told.

And this is a great way to get around in the woods... if you tend towards driving...
 Mr Hartmann from Ed Mahony knives
 ...having a load of goodies from 440A steel


 on diplay. Also there was Andy Haas, a German custom knifemaker.
Those are some of Andy´knives, just my style!

Of course, we had a nice chat, and I learned he is currently doing business again after a forced break.

Look above for a continuation!

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