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larry harley

Perceptions on the advancement of the forged blade

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I finally realized that the advancement of the forged blade can mean two different ideas altogether.

 

The advancement of the forged blade in the market place verses advancement of the performance of the forged blade.

 

I beleive that these concepts coexist to varying degrees and different proportions in the members of the ABS.

 

The question is what is your perception, and should the two be delineated?

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Guest Tai
To me the advancement of the forged blade is simply the advancement of the smith himself.

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The market drives both.  Consider the knife buyers/collectors transformation as his knowledge increases. First he buys factory  knives, then stock removal, then hears or reads that forged knives are better so he invests one. His next purchases are based on knowledge he gains about forged knives so he starts looking into performance.  Brag factor has a lot to do with it as well. Imagine the guy showing up at deer camp proud as peacock of his new forged knife only to be humbled his buddy's forged knife that has a proven performance record where the smith tested it. Our progressions as smiths as Tai pointed out probably took a similar route. Remember the first knives that hit our tables at

knife and gun shows? Are they the same as we produce today? No in most cases. As we walked around seeing other smiths work our knowledge increased. As we saw what sold well and didn't our knowledge increased. Then we have those

rare individuals that have come full circle and produce knives not only for the market but because they have a genuine desire to produce the best blade they can. Several of these individuals use this forum and we all know who they are.

Peace to all

Yellow Hammer (sorry for the long post but it is too early in

the morning to be brief and logical.) ???

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have come full circle and produce knives not only for the market but because they have a genuine desire to produce the best blade they can.

 

makeing whats in my heart

should drive me

HARD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

if u can keep your head while all around u others are loseing theres

harley

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So far, everyone's answers are right on the money Ed.  This is an entirely value laden question.  It is a great dichotomous thought problem, however, and leads directly to one of the greatest tests man(all of humans) can ever face, to examine him(her)self, as Tai and others here have suggested.  

 

I don't think you will ever get an answer that will cover all the possible points of view.  Because values almost always drive beliefs, arguments will devolve to contrasting points of view.  Those seem to tend toward insolubility, usually despite the various proofs offered.  There is the strongest possibility that some naysayer will raise their voice just when everyone else thinks the argument is over.  And, probably just to stir the pot, not because there is any really disagreement over whether the knife in question is art, and therefore worth more than the next, or a tool, and therefore more functional than the rest.  

 

I am not an ABS member.  You may discount my opinion at any time.  

 

I found this reading the other day.  "There was never a good knife made of bad steel."  B. Franklin, from Poor Richard's Almanac.  I think it answers your question Ed, as well as any other statement that could be made.  

 

Thanks for another great puzzle.  I'm going out to pour some babbitt bearings.

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the answer to this is so simple;

 

Do not try and bend the steel. That's impossible. Instead... only try to realize the truth.

 

There is no steel.

 

Then you'll see, that it is not the steel that bends, it is only yourself

 

"If the doors to perception were cleansed ......... " etceteras, etceteras

???  :;):

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Ed, if I understand your question correctly; it is a matter of peception only, that separates the two in the ABS. When one sees a thing or idea as superior; then all others must be inferior. It is so by definition.

What is it that separates the two ideals other than perception of what is better, best, true path, sales pitch, performance, hype, etc?

To delineate is to draw representations and categorize. Something that I personally can't visualize in bladesmithing. There are too many of us with too many different ideas, procedures, directions, and cultures. Why, and Who would benifit from from "delineation"?

If I misunderstood your question disregard the above. mike

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I go to the shop each day and try my best to make the stuff the best it can be in terms of performance, each and every day. Advance in the marketplace has come, slowly, of it's own accord as God saw fit to provide it to me.I have watched as some in our trade have shamelessly self promoted at the expense of quality and truth. They always get what they deserve in the end, it just sometimes takes too dam long to suit the rest of us, that's all. :;):

 

Ed you have certainly "advanced" pictoral steel the last few years, being what I consider the "engine of innovation" in your part of the world, as well as a most fully and competely human individual at the same time. Plus you're fun to be around. :D

 

Tai has advanced the forged blade by taking it in directions that franky would just never have occurred to many of us (myself included).

 

Don has advanced the forged blade by just being "Sifu Don" and providing us all with an excellent example of fine workmanship to strive toward.

 

I have tried to advance the forged blade by shining the light of knowlege into dark places, and bring us into some understanding of the metallurgy. All to squeeze out the last little bit of performance that won't matter to the customer anyway.

 

Daryl Meier, by showing us all that there could be pattern welded steel that worked too, and that it WAS possible to weld without big goobers stuck in there.

 

Bill Moran, by being who is is, in the time and place and with the people he was at the time, to bring it to the attention of the world, so the rest of us could do this.

 

BR Hughes, for being the mouthpiece and telling the world, relentlessly for years.

 

Many, many more.

 

We all advance the craft by just being engaged in it. We must preserve this knowlege, and these skills, and expand upon them. They are essential to humanity, though most do not know that. I hope that someday we can again be valued members of the community of man as a whole, and not just novelties for the well off who collect our stuff. I do not know that it will ever be so, but it is a fond dream. Somehow, we all have significance in the big scheme of things, and smithing is our vehicle to realize that. At least it is for me. Or maybe it is just training, I don't know.

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Guest Richard Furrer

I don't know Ed.

It seems to me that the goal should be advance the craft. To push it in new and "better" directions.

My path has been in the past, the origins of the craft. I draw strength and knowledge and technique from what has come before. There is also a bit of delusional security in reproducing old techniques -- you see they have been done already and the outcome is known (even if a few of the techniques have been "lost" and rediscovered)

 

The forged blade is the only method I see; indeed pulling the steel from the rock, the raw ore is comforting now.

 

Performance? We make tools -- or should at least. They need to be pretty because we want them that way or the clientele demands such due to perceptions of quality or some modern aesthetic. I see no reason that performance need be sacrificed for marketability.

 

I consider myself to be in the fourth generation of modern makers and yet this craft, as it has evolved here, is not 80 years old. I think it has yet to hit its stride.

Medieval makers had guilds and touchmarks of quality to go by. The "guilds" today are what we create and the marks of quality are what we allow  -- it can work if we continue to educate ourselves and our clients.

 

Ric

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Guest Tai

"I consider myself to be in the fourth generation of modern makers and yet this craft, as it has evolved here, is not 80 years old. I think it has yet to hit its stride." Furrer

 

Great point Ric. I don't think the craft has been here long enough to produce a single "master", by traditional standards. I'm not so sure anyone even knows what it really means to be a "master". This is a question I ponder quite often. What does it mean to be a "master bladesmith"? This is where the advancement of the craft/art lies.

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Guest Tai
I know that a lot of folks would argue that the knives being made here today are in some ways better than the knives made by the ancestral smiths. However, I firmly believe that any improvements that have been made are due more to an advancement in tools, materials and technologies of our modern society, rather than in the "personal advancement" of the smith himself. So, can modern society, trends and commercialism hinder the process of true mastery?... I definitely think so!

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"However, I firmly believe that any improvements that have been made are due more to an advancement in tools, materials and technologies of our modern society, rather than in the "personal advancement" of the smith himself."

 

Isn't matering those tools, technologies, and materials part of the advancement of the art?  Of course they are.  Better tools allow artists to try things that were impossible previously.

 

"So, can modern society, trends and commercialism hinder the process of true mastery?... I definitely think so!"

 

Independantly of whether mastery / art can exist in a vaccum, what makes you think that the ancestral smiths were independant of those trends, mores, etc?  Of course, they were just as subjected as we are.

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Most definitely I agree with that, Tai.

 

It is difficult to master one's self in the time and place in which we ive. It (present time/place) requires few of the ancestral skills/instincts that brought our species to this state. We now encourage the breeding of the surivally challenged, if judged by historical standards. Compassionate ? Perhaps, but it may also be detrimental in the long run, time will tell.

 

All this stuff seems related somehow to me, though I may just be delusinal.  :P

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Guest Tai

Howard, to master one's self is the hardest thing for a human being to do,... no matter when. To master one's self as it pertains to bladesmithing is what the goal should be. Actually to master one's self in anything is the same thing!

 

Aside from that, it gets down to balancing the past with present on an individual basis. As contemporary bladesmiths we should reflect our society in some ways and speak for it, but we should hold a very high respect for the smiths that came before us and not totally abandon their ways. I think of it as a blend of things. I don't want to try and "copy" the past, any previous culture, or be a product strictly of our society. I don't see advancement or evolution in either of those things. It may sound contradictory but a ballance of innovation and tradition really makes the most sense to me. The aim is to show respect for the past, work in the present, and project into the future.

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Guest Tai

Yep! In essence we are all trying to do the same thing.

 

Same as it ever was.

 

All we can do is just keep trying...

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Guest Tai
The thing that makes us different than the ones that came before, is that thier options were more limited than ours. We have more information and resources to draw from, which can work for us or against us. Maybe our options are too great and too difficult to find our ways through or to find ourselves in. On the other hand this maybe our only advantage. It's how the individual advances through it and the choices made, which no one can deside for all. In the end the work will speak for itself.

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So it sounds like a contemporary blade smith has fewer limitations then the smiths of old.  How great is that, to have more room to stretch and experience consciousness.  The world would be a greater place if...  there were more blade smiths![ylsuper]

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