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Mittwoch, 7. Mai 2014

Fimbulmyrk in paradise-Of new acquaintances and meeting with friends

 So, this is just the beginning of a series of posts about one of the best times I have ever had at the Solingen Knife Fair, which took place this year on 3rd and 4th of May. Willi fetched me at a gas station near my home, and we drove out to Solingen. First it was some work to be done;-), for we bought some coal for Volker, at half the price he normally gets... talk about bargain! Then we were ready to let the fun begin.
 Off to the "Deutsches Klingenmuseum Solingen", a must-see for any knife- and swordhead. Quite apart from the expo, the museum hosts artifacts from the bronze age up to modern ages, and offers all there is to know about blades, be they big or small.
 We arrived early, so there was ample time to listen to the jibbering and jabbering of the guys and gals;-) waiting to be left in. There was quite the tech talk going on already, not all of which shone by competence, but that was no problem really. It was simply great to see how easy those owners of the essence of EVIL, a.k.a as knives socialize in a friendly manner. Typically the visitors were highly educated, middle-aged ladies and gentlemen with a medium to high social background. I do not want to comment on this any more, but I guess the point´s made, is it?
 One of the first booths I visited was the one of the Steigerwalds, a friendly couple offering all you need for knifemaking. Plus, they are just likeable people. We had but a brief chat this time, but I hope that we´ll meet again sometime soon.
 Leather punches ...
 ...and dye.
 Blades and pins...
 ..and raw handle material.
 This is interesting, in that this is a knife they now produce in a small series. It was the winner of a tactical pocket knife design contest by the German Messermagazin. Now it´s made by hand by Stefan, and I must say, even if it´s a bit tactical, I really like it. I just hope there will be a cheaper version sometime soon...;-)
 The booth next to the two was Peter Abel´s. Now Peter´s always a joy to meet, and we traded some jokes and had a chat, and, as usual, he gave me some valuable input on blacksmithing and bladesmithing.
 He makes some clean-looking blades out of unusually composed damascus and damasteel, and he has got a very distinctive style. And, this you can rely on, he knows his trade.
 Then suddenly Rainer loomed into my focus, gah!*ggg* Rainer is a knifemaker I always meet unexpectedly, and suddenly he stood before me.
 As usual, another nice chat was had, and he showed me his latest work, a knife with a Karesuandokniven blade. Turns out the missus was yelling at him, so he withdraw into his shop. Lad, if that´s what comes out if you have arguments with your wife, you should have more of them, just kidding of course;-).
 Then it was off to Pekka´s booth. Pekka Tuominen is a very accomplished knifemaker and a nice guy from Finland. Excuse the lousy photos! Pekka is the designer of the Spyderco Tuominen, and in the brief chat we had, I learned a whole world of knowledge about this traditional Finnish tool.
 But he had lots more on display than "just" Puukkos. I must say I fell in love with this seax. I simply find it insane, for it´s not etched, but polished to such an extremely high lustre that the pattern shows!
 He also showed me an article about a Finnish military knife he made a reproduction of. Visit his website, he´s also got a blog worth visiting!

The booth next to Pekka was occupied by Anssi Ruusuvuori, another Finnish mastersmith. I could not find a website, but an excellent article by Mr. Moshtaq Khorasani, who is in himself an authority concerning Persian swordmanship and an author of many books concerning the topic.

 Many traditional Puukos were on display, extremely well-made.
 Mammoth tooth handles with silver steel blades...
 Then it was back to Germany, and I had the privilege to meet with Kilian Kreutz, a young but very accomplished and formally educated master blacksmith. He makes very appealing knives out of a very special damascus. Out of barrells from the WW II V-Flak and tool steels he composes badass blades with flowing aesthetics, often inspired by the flow of work itself.
 Just my piece of cake, really. All of his blades were already sold at 11.30 am! That tells a story, does it? Anyway, Kilian is a nice, somewhat shy guy, and since he practically lives "next door", I look forward to visit him one day in his smithy.
 Then it was off to a guy I really looked forward to meeting:
 That crazy Finnish master:JT Palikkö;-). He had some great work on display again. I was enthused to see this small Khukhuri, and the Kopis / Yatagan style is a big hit with me, too.
 He can´t only do the big stuff, though. He also had some meticulously crafted hunting knives on display, too.
 But what impressed me most were his swords. First a somewhat fantasy interpretation of a hand-and-a-half sword.

And then he offered me the privilege to do a study of this "Katzbalger" from the 16th - 17th century, a style of hunting sword used by the "Landsknechte", soldiering in the 30-years war in Germany.

 I especially loved the work on the hand guard and pommel.
 That goes without words, does it? He also said that many originals had a hollow pommel to aid in balance. He did a lot of research on this sword, and I daresay a historical soldier would have been proud to own one.
 Nice Finnish, JT!*ggg* The blade was polished mirror bright and felt alive in your hand. There is an almost eucharistic feeling you get when you hold a well-made sword.
 The handle scales were made from reindeer antler with brass liners which I found very interesting. It gave the sword some Northern appeal without overdoing it.
 It was also an eye-opener looking at the sheaths of those swords, which were not in the least a second-thought item, but crafted with the same care as the blades. We traded some more jokes, chatted some, and then I was off to the next booth.
 There Maihkel Eklund had his works of art on display. This viking- style axe I found most impressive for the modern interpretation of viking-age iconography.
 Maihkel makes some very delicately engraved and gilded blades, certainly no users to baton through hardwood or do paint-stripping;-), but a delight for the eye.
 ...lost for words...
 I find it very remarkeable and it tells quite a story how diverse his style is.
 And, I simply like his friendly, laidback manner. Maihkel, it was but a brief visit, but I hope we meet again next year!
 Then it was off to the booth of Mr. Ladislav Santa. He makes great knives in Slovakia, and I already own one of his damascus knives like this. This is a more compact size, which was a novelty. They really come at bargain prices, at just 75€!
 I am also fond of this striker knife.
 Also in a set.

So, this is the first layer of Solingen... much more pics will come. Stay tuned!

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