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Knife: Remnants of Passage

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I call this knife “Tender Remnants of Passage”. I chose to use feathers as symbols of passage, which in the case of birds, could be molting, conflict, flight or death. Feathers have such deep and subtle beauty. Jean and I have quite a collection and I always wonder, when finding a single feather, what the story was.

The last knife work I did was 13 years ago. Much of my earlier knife and other work had cast elements, but since about 1990 I've been moving toward direct carving/sculpting, which generally takes a lot more time to produce work in a given area.

As I was working on those skills and making other types of objects, I often wondered how to apply it to a knife. The direct work is very time consuming and I knew that the result would be very different than my earlier work, in terms of the newer focus on subtlety and refined detail. It has taken a long time to settle on a design incorporating the new kind of work.

As the overall design for this knife emerged it became clear that it would not be conventional. This actually pleased me as I wanted to quietly play with the tension around artistry/functionality. I hoped to do this suggestively and gracefully. It’s not a knife to be used often and brutally coarsely, but perhaps by someone highly skilled, knowledgeable and restrained. I am comfortable with romanticism, paradox and imagination. So, there is an edge, somewhat unavailable to the uninitiated.


The fine pattern-welded blade was made by Rick Dunkerley, and to my mind, perfectly suits the overall design.

The handle scale is shibuichi (50%copper/50% silver). The inlaid feather is also shibuichi (75%copper/25%silver). These alloys were made to order by Phillip Baldwin. The gold inlays are 22k. The carved transition collar is 18k gold. The signature plate is shakudo. I'd be happy to answer questions about details. More close-ups to follow.

(edited for better writing and accuracy)





Edited by Jim Kelso
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Jim, that is beautiful work, and a triumphant return to blades! I admire and respect the difficulty of making subtle fluidity appear in so rigid an object as metal. Do you have any side views? I'm curious how it all lines up. This is a wonderful application of your style, which, as you so aptly say, not as knife to be used often and brutally, but by someone highly skilled, knowledgeable and restrained.





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outstanding! welcome back to blades... the carving of the feathers are impressive. To give the sense of something so slight and whispy. very nice. meditative.

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Thanks guys for the comments. Much appreciated.


John I'll have some pics showing wip in the next few days.


Here is a side view showing the carving but not much beyond the joint between the blade and the shibuichi/gold. I'll try to get a more revealing shot of that.







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Really elegant, Jim! David Carlin once told me "a good carving tells a story and doesn't wear out over time." I've always tried to follow that advice in my own work, and I can pretty well see a volume the size of War and Peace in this. Well done! Don't wait so long to return to knife work next time...



Edited by tsterling
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Jim, its hauntingly beautiful, dare i say which is your norm. The craftsmanship is amazing, the concept equally so. I like your playing with artistry function, usually something that is crudely played upon but nice and refreshing when done with class and subtlety.

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Thanks very much Todd.



I've made a process slide show that can be seen here:




And some quick vids here:




There are 40 photos in the slide show link above.

Here are a few from that:


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Edited by Jim Kelso
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