What does a knife maker do on holiday? Go and visit other knife makers of course!
Last year a friend told me about this little village in North Spain that is famous for its folding knives and this year it was top of the list to visit.
Taramundi is a beautiful old village surrounded by green mountains and crystal clear rivers. Knife making has been carried out there for centuries and it was good to see it still going strong with several factories and independent makers still in the village.
Most of the knives made are small folding knives and a trip to the museum showed that many of the designs have been the same for generations.
While the majority of the knives are now made in small factories using machines each of the handles is individually decorated and the marks are unique to the different makers and I really liked the way it gave much more character and personality to the knives than standard factory knives.
Independent maker Pedro Bermudez and some of his knives...
One of the most interesting things about Taramundi was that many of the machines used to be powered by water and one of the makers had even built a fully water powered workshop. He had saws, drills and grinders all running from a single water pipe. It was an amazing invention and one I’d love to replicate one day if I ever get a workshop with a source of water nearby!
I had to get a few knives of course and my little boy is now proudly showing off his Taramundi knife to his friends!
It’s a beautiful little village, full of history and knives of course, well worth a trip if you are in that area!
As you may know I don’t normally take on custom orders but when I got an email from Trudi about a knife for her son’s 21st birthday it was such a lovely story I couldn’t say no!
Trudi was incredibly proud of her son Russell, who had worked really hard to become a successful chef at just age 20, winning numerous awards whilst still at college and currently working at Michelin starred restaurant Moor Hall. His 21st birthday was coming up and she had an idea for a really special present.
When he was just 5 days old they planted a blue cedar tree and she wanted a knife made with a piece from the tree. Now I can’t resist a bit of wood with a story and with a year until his birthday I agreed to make it.
Blue Cedar wood turns out to be a bit tricky to use, it’s quite a soft wood so I decided to try something a bit different and set some of the pine needles in resin. I asked Trudi to post me a box of needles which she told me was the strangest package she had ever posted especially when asked about the contents and if they needed insuring.
I set them just in time as soon after they went as brown as a January Christmas tree and as crumbly as apple crumble! I then fitted slices of the cedar wood on either side and matched it with purple stabilised maple. The handle is an unusual design, it has a convex grind and I squared off the end, not something I normally do but something that fit with the style of the knife.
The knife was picked up on the day of his birthday by Russell with his family, not a bad present for a 21st and one that I think he was pretty happy with!
In his own words...
I really like this time of year when I can look back and see all the knives I’ve made, it’s a wonderful sense of achievement and I like to think of all those meals that have been made with my knives satisfying hungry bellies and minds! It’s hard to pick the best ones but these are my top five handmade kitchen knives of 2018.....
Number One - Cloud Fortress
7” Handmade Santoku
The oak in the handle of this santoku was from an ancient tree that grew in close to Castell Dolbadarn in Llanberis, North Wales. In 2005 there was a huge storm and this great oak fell and was carefully salvaged by my friend Merlin who kindly gave me a piece when we visited this year. Check out his work @woodstonemetal
Number Two -Grandfather Time
7" Handmade Santoku
This was quite complicated to make and had 18 separate parts in the handle plus the brass timing cogs from an ancient grandfather clock. It served its purpose for many years keeping time and now has a new life creating memorable meal times.
7” Handmade Santoku
Before I was a professional knife maker I used to teach survival skills. Making fire in difficult conditions can be a real challenge and the bow drill method certainly takes some practice especially when it’s damp! This knife was inspired by the pattern of the bow drill and hopefully it’s being put to some good use kindling the fires of inspiration.
Number Four -Hero
8” Handmade Chef’s Knife
This one was probably my most popular knife of this year and certainly was the most difficult and took the longest to make! It started as a single piece of copper that I split and then forged into a double helix like DNA. You can read more about the inspiration and making of this one in my blog post from March 2018.
Number five -Neptunes AXe
All my knives are hand forged but on this one I decided to forge it with a specially profiled old fireman’s axe so the forge marks are really unique. The handle is sculptured olive which fits perfectly in the hand with a blue resin infill along the live edge.
Bonus two as i couldn’t leave them out!
7” Handmade Santoku
For this knife I chose a really beautifully grained piece of olive wood and I decided to leave the live edge on because it was a great example of how nature provides shapes we couldn’t design. The mosaic pin has layers of copper, brass and nickel silver.
4” Handmade Paring Knife
This one was one of the most complicated parer’s I’ve made. When I brought it home my little boy said ‘Dad it looks like a dinosaur’ and hence it got its name. The velociraptor was a fierce predator but only the size of a goose.
Let me know what your favourite handmade knife has been in the comments!
Thanks to all my customers and supporters this year, wishing you all the best for 2019!
More knives will be going up for sale in my online shop on Sunday 27 January 2019 at 8pm.
Tags: Best handmade kitchen knives, hand forged knives, artisan knife maker, handcrafted chef knives, handmade chefs knife, Sheffield knife makers.
'The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative'
The word inspiration come from the Latin word inspiratus and means to breathe into, to inspire. Being an artist is having the ability to breathe in what's around, to notice the little details, to develop new ideas and concepts.
I am an environmentalist and one of the things that inspires me most is being outside in nature. I spend a lot of time outdoors with my kids, exploring rivers, woods, and caves and this is what gives me much of my inspiration. Being with children gives focus to the small details; the intricacies of a fallen leaf, the shadows over a wooded path, the pattern on a beetles back.
I am also inspired by light and shadow. The way that morning light shines through stained glass, the sun's rays through fresh beech leaves in spring, the reflections of a stormy sky in an autumn puddle. Shadow changes the view of things and within shadows details can be seen normally hidden from view.
Being an artist knife maker is to be creative, to be inspired and to take risks. Only by using the inspiration in the world to take risks can the boundaries be explored and knife making pushed to the next level.
Handmade Knives, Handforged Knives, Artisan Knives, Handcrafted Chef Knives, Handmade kitchen knives
Wading through the iron River, we discussed the role of the Artist. A proper artist is a Treasure Hunter. What does the treasure look like? That is a question I asked myself as I squinted down through the murky depths into Sheffield's past.
Our eyes locked onto any regular shape or flash of something shiny. Circles always catch the eye. Mostly everything was a dull green brown, even the trout, one of which was so big we felt like the intruders in his territory.
We threw back anything of no value or interest. I realised this process was mostly based on the intrinsic value of materials. Rubbish is defined as plastic, which has done so much harm to the way in which we value things. Plastic usually has negative value, just rubbish on the way to the landfill, cluttering our minds and destroying our natural world.
Below are some River treasures, most of them mystery objects, but please write in the comments if you know what they are!
This was identified by my Dad as an aluminium cover for the engine of a moped.
This seems to be a stone lid...
This was found underneath Skelton Works which sold garden tools, and is possibly the last remaining evidence of four candles by Ronnie and Ronnie.
An Alchemist makes gold out of lead, but I didnt find any lead but I'll see what I can do... Back to the grindstone.
I will make a knife out of a couple of other finds but am already starting my next side project which is about reducing waste plastic and redeveloping the value of an everyday object....
I’ve been a bit quiet lately on social media as I took some time off to go on a family holiday to North Spain. It’s a fabulous place and even though I was on holiday I couldn’t resist picking up a few new pen knives - all in the name of research of course!
This month we've started the filming on a short art film I’m making - Walking the Iron River. It’s certainly been the best time of year for wading (and sometimes swimming!) down the river Sheaf which flows through Sheffield. The river provided the power for the grinding wheels for knife makers of times gone by and is full of old treasures!
Next week will be the last knife sale until the end of September. I’ve been busy making some really interesting pieces for it including this one, using the cogs from an ancient grandfather clock.
The difference between an artist and a craftsman is the Artist puts a little of themselves into each piece. It was a small part of myself that began this project last summer. This part.
As a 3D Artist, complex spirals fascinate me. A gradual uncoiling is what happens when I pull my hair down to see if it touches my belt yet. It always pings back because it is a spring; a season eagerly awaited here in Sheffield.
This copper is from an old truck. I split it into two to create a double helix like DNA. Copper needs constant annealing, but luckily unlike steel, it can be quenched in water rather than being left overnight to cool down. Still, it takes many heats to get the shape you want.
Here are some 'Making of' photographs.
See the Phoenix fly...
II have been making knives for 27 years and my plan was always to make the best knife in the world. A masterpiece can only be achieved with deep understanding of all the elements which combine to balance each new work. Only by boldly taking risks can you move down the road to mastery. A favourite mantra is ‘I don’t mind what happens’. Only by freeing yourself from the possibility of failure or success can you make the right decisions.
Its been a great year for Ferraby Knives. Looking back at all the knives I've made in 2017 has been really enjoyable - I usually only think about the knife I am about to make next! I've put loads in here because there loads that belonged here... scroll through and enjoy.
I closed my custom order book a couple of years ago but I still regularly get asked to make custom knives. I always say no. Almost always. Then I got an e-mail from a guy who suggested a project I couldn't resist!
He wanted me to make him a knife which he could give to his wife for her birthday and keep a little ink memento for himself . I am a bit of a romantic too and was game for a collaboration with a 5th generation Chef and a fellow Artist to make two knives that would last a lifetime.
The challenge was to design and make a 3D knife that would look good 2D, with Abalone shell, to a deadine. It had to fit onto his left forearm so he could pretend pick it up with his right hand ready to slice any pretend food. So a 4'' kitchen knife then....
The all important outline included a hooked handle and forged blade. I wanted to include some recognisably Ferraby details:
The shape changed a bit as it felt better in the hand. The 3D sculpting process is always intuitive and allows your inner self to find the knife in the wood. The colours and textures are all about balancing.
You can see the blues and greens of the Abalone are complimented by the golden heart wood and mirrored by the resin, the dark blue next to the silver wave (which looks black) and of course the blue sky reflected in the blade. The Bog Oak is balanced with the black denim and coconut fibre bolster lip. The silver wave is balanced with the Sterling Silver circlet that houses the Abalone.
I am lucky enough to be pals with one of the best Artist Tattoists - Dr Viper (Max). He popped round my place and took a great photo from which he produced the very fine graphic above.
Rene came to Sheffield for the day and we were tempted to write 'HAND DRAWN IN SHEFFIELD' instead of my HANDFORGED blade mark. There is only so much space on a blade though and though Max's peepers are first class it would be so small it would be illedgable. Oh well.
Motorbike chain, chainsaw steel and nickel from a boat. This knife is fast, with a keen cutting edge and cuts through hard wood like it's water!
This was the last custom outdoor knife that was ordered before my books closed two years ago so I decided to make this one a bit special!
The 4" blade was made from Sheffield Silver Fox 100, a steel made here in Sheffield, which is a high carbon stainless that has all the benefits of a carbon steel but without the rust. It's strong, holds a great edge and is easy to sharpen.
The bolster is a one off piece of pattern welded metal which was made using upcycled chainsaw chains, carbon steel motorbike chain and nickel from a boats hull by my blacksmith friend, Josh Burrell. I spent a week acid etching it using lemon juice to bring out the patterns. The lemon juice is good as it allows a very subtle etch and can bring out all the different colours and tones. The darker areas are where the carbon steel has been eaten away by the acid, leaving the silver patterns of nickel which are more resistant.
The collar is a carefully sculptured section of copper which is then cast in a resin mould. Blue and black pigment was carefully added to give the finished product a semi-opaque coloured finish which looks different in different lights.
I chose corian for the handle liner for its material properties as well as its aesthetic beauty complimenting the materials around it. It is a very dense material which is both heat resistant and durable. The deep black of the liner extenuates the lithe flowing form of the Ferraby Steel Wave on the spine of the knife. This is the signature mark of all my full tang knives.
The live edge of the olive wood has a blue resin fill. The wood has a much more subtle grain than many of the pieces I usually use so as to draw attention and carefully compliment the more patterned areas of the knife. The blue infill balances the orange of the olive but is also mirrored by the blue in the collar and when blue sky is reflected on the blade.
I spent a week making the sheath; each stitch hole has a graduated distance and the dying process took 14 incremental layers of dye.
I've managed to combine many of my latest methods with one of my original knife designs - the Wilderness 5. Out of the 12 outdoor knives I used to make this one was always the most popular.
I was happy to hear that the first project this knife will make is going to be a wooden spreading knife from a piece of local green wood.
So I bid farewell to this knife that has a chainsaw, a motorbike and a speed boat locked inside it. I wouldn't like to be the piece of wood!