Handmade Knives, Handforged Knives, Artisan Knives, Handcrafted Chef Knives, Handmade kitchen knives
'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!
It's been a great year for Ferraby Knives. I have worked in collaboration with some cracking folk and produced some of my best work. Since closing my custom order book in 2015 my creativity has accelerated, allowing me to constantly evolve my knife-making, by taking risks and exploring new ideas. After concentrating on fine tuning the 8'' Chef's knife for a year, I have returned to making Santokus and Parers, and there will be new blades coming soon....
Lets look down a year of knife-making and see some of my favourites:
This year also saw the release of the online series 'The Craftsman's Dinner' where Micheal Roux Jr came to my workshop to learn about knife making. It was great fun to take part in and I made lots of great friends.
In family life this November saw the arrival of our beautiful baby girl. My children bring so much joy to me and I can't wait to get her down the workshop when she's a bit bigger!
To celebrate the sucess of 2016 and the start of 2017 I have decided to giveaway one of my new paring knives. To be in with a chance to win simply enter via facebook, twitter or instagram, full details here - good luck!
I would like to thank everyone for all their support in 2016 and I wish you all the best for 2017, Will Ferraby
I needed to get a new material for my next project so I rang up my pal to scavenge something extra special!
Scavenger has the wow factor. The colours look fantastic and it is all made ethically from retired climbing rope that would have otherwise been wasted. A simple idea, executed with skill, I was very excited about this project. Here is Scavenger, AKA Tashe.
Sheffield is still world famous for knife making, but there are few knifemakers left. Sheffield is next to a stretch of Millstone Grit which made the best knife grindstones.
Great stretches of cliffs opened up as the giant stones were quarried out. You might expect nature to have re-colonised these cliffs over the last 50 years, but every crack, crevice and nook is stripped clean every day by a committed task force of climbers!
Climbing rope symbolises the reasons I love Sheffield. I have always been into climbing and love the focus brought on through nearly coming a cropper followed by the high of topping out.
The rope also represents collaboration and working together with trust. Looking after each other and sometimes giving your mate some slack while still being there to catch him if he falls.
I was building my son a little house in the garden when it came to me....
I was looking at a snail shell listening to a song in my head ‘...on the bus go round and round’. I had a screw in one hand and thought - “hmmm, I wonder?...”
As soon as I got into the workshop I grabbed a piece of hardwood and a box of high quality screws and started driving them in, until the wood could take no more!
I put the now quite heavy wood into the vice and chopped off all the ends with the old angle grinder.
Up till this point this project cost me very little. Then I tried to shape the handle. Turns out steel screws are really quite hard. In the end I chopped it into shape with the angle grinder but it started smoking! You can see the blackened wood below...
Blades and belts were quickly destroyed - £50 worth - then sanding it took a couple of days. The screws get woodburning hot, fast, so it all needed plenty of time to cool down.
But here she is, a proper one off as I won't be making another in a hurry! I really like the olive bolster with the black denim micarta.
I always say a knife is the perfect combination of practical and beautiful. Screws in one hand, electric screwdriver in the other and you can build a lot with wood. Seldom has the beauty of this modern wonder been explored. I have tried to keep the organic inspiration of the snail shell whilst letting the bold lines of the screws compliment the subtle grain of the wood.
This knife will be up for sale with a couple of others on this Friday's Knife Wall at Noon.