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My pics of Ashokan Knifemaking Symposium 2010

Matt Gregory

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The 2010 Ashokan Bladesmithing Symposium was this weekend. For me, this is the most important knifemaking event of the year. The openness, willingness to share by all involved, the cameraderie - and the shenanigans! - all make for an incredible weekend of education and entertainment.

This year was particularly important for me, personally, but I'll save that reason for last...


Held on the Ashokan Field Campus in Oivebridge, NY, the settings cannot be more beautiful, and the weather was PERFECT. Here's some shots I snapped:






I started the weekend by taking a hike with my wife Jill and a regular at Ashokan (and incredible guy!) Howard Schechter. Howard lived as a homesteader in the campus's 1820's era cabin and farm for two years, living exactly has a homesteader would - a tough life, indeed!


This is a shot of Howard posed next to the carving he made in 1973 after adding the woodshed:




The inside of the cabin still includes many of the items and tools that Howard used, such as the fireplace (the only source of heat for the building), and the spinning wheel which he used to spin sheep's wool into cloth:






The first demonstrator up was Jerry Rados, who lectured on the importance of overall design, fit and finish. I had pictures of a blade which Jerry passed around, but there was so much chatoyance in the blade that the autofocus of my camera wouldn't work! Heartbreaking! I'm hoping my twin brother Gary Graley got a better shot of it, as he's a camera maestro. Here's an attendee inspecting the amazing tolerances Jerry keeps on all of his knives (which all happen to be take-down, freeing every part of the knife for disassembly and cleaning with one simple tool!).




On Saturday, ABS Mastersmith J.D. Smith did a great demo on his forging technique:




The event draws enthusiasts, collectors and makers alike:



Matt Gregory NABS Member


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Rick Barrett and his apprentice Josiah Boomershine gave an exceptional demonstration on habaki engraving technique. Josiah did all the work, with Rick adding commentary and explanation for historical background and modern application. Here's Rick and Josiah, with Nathan Zowada in between running the video camera:












My personal straight razor had been pushed past it's safe effectiveness, so I took this weekend as an opportunity to have Tim Zowada show me his honing and stropping technique. When he finished, I stole some cool peppermint and tea tree shaving soap from Butch Harner and headed over to get the two-week-old beard I had gone, as it was itching the hell out of me! My twin Gary Graley took a series of pictures of the first pass to entertain you with:












Man, am I one handsome devil! :D

Matt Gregory NABS Member


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Dave Martell did two different demonstrations, predominantly involving kitchen knives and their design, as well as proper sharpening practice. An animated speaker, he makes his living sharpening cutlery:






Here are some highlights of the knife show that was held after the final demonstration on Sunday. Turnout was high, and it appeared as though lots of things changed hands...


Tim Zowada straight razors. I'm pretty sure these two were spoken for, and brought only for example. Stunning!




J.D. Smith had some work on hand from he and his partner Josef Shnayder:








A rare and awesome piece by ABS Mastersmith Kevin Cashen:




A cool little damascus piece from Paul LeTourneau of PML Knives:




Some beautiful fittings from Rick Barrett and Josiah Boomershine:




One of Rick's superbly etched tactical pieces with it's removable scales off:



Edited by Matt Gregory

Matt Gregory NABS Member


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The next bit will be some portraits of some of my favorite folks from the show, in no particular order.


Mace Vitale, hogging a forge to make a sword for next year's Ashokan sword event...




Aldo Bruno, the New Jersey Steel Baron, showing the kids how it's done:




One of the finest people in all the world, my pal Sammy Salvati:




Butch Harner, I need one of his straight razors. Call him and tell him to give me one, please:




Good ol' Justin Mercier in his skirt - ahem - kilt:




Kevin Cashen always looks at me this way:




... of course, maybe it's because I caught him picking his nose! :D




(lighten up, you old coot!)


Stacy Apelt and I managed to avoid one another all weekend again. Not sure how that keeps happening...





The incredible Jim Siska, who I'll never forgive for telling me that I'll never be good at grinding because I don't have a biological work rest (otherwise known as a big belly) - great guy!




J.D. Smith. The man makes some really cool stuff!



Matt Gregory NABS Member


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Keith Kaiser, the human Switzerland of every practical joke:




Had a couple good long talks (that are never long enough!) with Dick Sexstone, maker of some of the most creative folders:




Josiah Boomershine, I really can't wait to see the work that comes out of him in the next few years!




I missed too many chances to photograph people, and too many photos I took turned out poorly. Ah, well... hopefully next time.




FINALLY, here's the biggest thing to happen to me on this weekend. During the knife show on Sunday, my friend Paul LeTourneau was setting his wares out on a table, and he pulls out a small tactical folder he'd been working on when last we were together. After sorting out some issues he was having with the detent ball in the liner, he had finished it up. As I'm examining it, I notice how smoothly it's opening for me - the reason for which should have hit me deeper than it did. After waiting through my critique for my dumb ass to see the obvious, he points out to me that the action is now left-handed, and the reason it's working so smoothly for me is that I'm left-handed, and he had made it for me!


Here's some pics of the first PML Tactical folder ever, and it's mine! Thanks, Paulie - can't tell you how much it means to me.







Matt Gregory NABS Member


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very very cool, I wish I could have gone. and of the last 4 yrs Ive known Kevin I dont think Ive ever seen a blade that size at the shows.. very cool to see all the pics see who was there it sounds like it was a blast

Gnáthamh na hoibre an t-eólas

(Knowledge comes through practice)


Iron is full of impurities that weaken it; through the forging fire, it becomes steel and is transformed into a razor-sharp sword. Human beings develop in the same fashion. - Morihei Ueshiba


my site: http://lfcforgeworks.webs.com/

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A great peek into a wonderful weekend. Ashokan is really the place to be on the third weekend of September. ~Herb

The few surviving Samurai survey the battlefield.

Count the arms and legs and heads and then divide by five.


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Nice pics and it is amazing to me how much I don't see sometimes... I never noticed the before & after results of the razor .laugh.gif I hope your back survived the clean up at the end..



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