Don gave me this blade five or six years ago and said, "Make something beautiful with it". Hmm, ok, so it rumbled around in my mind until last fall. It was a slow process figuring out the transition, theme and all the details, but I think it came good in the end.
I didn't find out until it was almost finished that it was Don's last patterned blade. I knew it had to be one of the last, but THE last. I'm glad I didn't know as I was working on it.
Below is a little of what I've written. More to be read here: Kelso Journal
And a slide show with more photos here: Fogg/Kelso
In keeping with the persona of a hunting knife, I chose to represent features of the Vermont woodlands that would be familiar to a skilled, observant woodsman. These include tracks of the Red Fox, leaves of Red Maple, Beech, and Red and White Oaks, and a feather. The feather was modeled from the Ruffed Grouse, but altered in shape and color to fit the surroundings. I chose a feather as a sign of passage, which in the case of birds, could be molting, conflict, flight or death. Feathers have such deep and subtle beauty. My wife Jean and I have a collection and I always wonder, when finding a single feather, what the story was. The tracks, leaves and feather are all signs, marking activity and transition, the meaning of which is read by the skilled woodsman.
This project has been very satisfying for a number of reasons. I was touched and honored when Don gave me the blade to finish. I did not realize until the piece was nearly finished that it was his last patterned blade, which greatly enhances the meaning for me. Don is a legend in the smithing world, and rightly so. Apart from his technical innovations, he has an artistic eye, both for pattern and form, which is rarely, if ever matched. In addition, his Bladesmith’s Forum stands as an unparalleled online resource for beginning and accomplished knifemakers.