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JPH

An Old Man's Lament..Or Close to 50 YEARS Doing This

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Hello all..

Geeze Louise... where the Hell do I start?? I guess I should just start and let then chips fall where they fall... and that is what it is

I am approaching my 5th DECADE..yes 50 years doing this..and I feel that I have FAILED..and failed MISERABLY .. Ok some you you will say "How can that be with the books and all"... The books do not even touch 10% of what I need to "pass on" to the next "generation"...

I admit that I am either Beloved above rubies or Damned to Hell's lowest levels.. (depending upon one's point of view) for my writings..but that all is at is all may be..; Oh Hell..  (Go ahead and  censor me..  Even BAN me if you like... but  I feel I have earned my say on this subject and to Hell with ya all otherwise...)

I have a question..and that question is this: Who.. WHO do I pass on to as of what I HAVE LEARNED in the close to 50 years that I have been doing this? Some of which is NOT safe in anyway, shape or word..yet..SHOULD be passed on for "The sake of History".. To  be the next "torch bearer" as they say..to guard and protect this knowledge for History's sake and yet prevent those that may misuse  it and possibly kill themselves or others.?? (Think of Hg Guildting as an example..)

I mean I get letters and letters from  "kids" (OOOOoohhhhh K  sometimes these "Kids" are in their 40's to 60's..) asking me to teach them "ALL that I know" for "free"..  Ok.. I admit that I DO write them back with a list of questions..that so far NONE of them have replied to my questions...  And sadly this was the first step.. O Geeezze,, PLEASE ..PLEASE Tell   PLEASE tell me that there is SOMEONE "Out There" that is young enough (let's say under 30 to 35 years old.. even younger would be better.... Someone that has the "Fire in their belly".  who has the burning "NEED" to learn this...  Who into I can pir what I know into them..so they can pass it all on to the next generation with what they have learned as well.. adding to to the process..  IS that really..too much to ask??

OK...I will I admit that I do give classes for a fee. (Gotta keep bacon and beans on the table ya know...)...but these are just enough to give a "taste" of what it is like... And some continue on to their own future..Whitch I dearly hope that what ever they learn along their way..that they "pass on" to the next generation ..

 My Dear God..  Oh!!  Dear Wise Lord... OH!!  Ahura Mazda.... The Wise Lord.. Please in Your Wisdom send unto me just ONE student that I can pass what I have learned unto him...So he can pass that unto 10 more.. Oh my Wise Lord...

The books..the articles and the writings are all "fine and dandy" but they do not even come close to one on one instruction..  So tell me..Oh those of you that are wiser than I.. that  are on this Internet.. and know more that I shall ever know.. TELL me PLEASE../. How do I pass on all that I have learned>>>

My son has NO interest at all in this..nor do my twin daughters..so tell me.. WHO do I teach this or do I just take this all to my grave:::???

I admit that I am a cranky old Dogface Soldier and little more than that..but Hell's Bells  I have to say that all the experience that I have HAS to be worth at least a glass of tea and an hour of so conversation with a cranky old man... Even more if the one I am talking to has "the fire in the belly"... 

I just don't want to take  all of what  I have learned to my grave...  

I owe this much to the memory of me dearest friend...Bob Engnath.., Yeah.. I still grieve for his death to this day...

So tell mje..what doi I doi??

 

JPH

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You will find suitable mentees in the strangest of places. My dad is a farmer, and one day a mustached man walked up to him at the market and bought some tomatoes. He said that he was with a blacksmithing group and my dad mentioned that I was very interested in blacksmithing. I didn't even have a proper forge or anything at the time. The bladesmith's name is Robert Timberlake, a talented machinist and bladesmith. I don't know how old he is, but he is past 50, I swear he was born with that mustache... We started carpooling to different blacksmith meet ups and now I am going to his forge regularly to learn from him while both of us work on our blades. I quickly learn his techniques and then combine them with my own. You need to remember that bladesmithing is not just a process, it is a mentality. The most valuable lesson that I have learned from him is that there is no right way to do something; there's a multitude of ways that gets it done, some more efficient than others, and the ways you get hurt/killed. Rather than viewing it as "uploading" your techniques and styles into someone else's memory, I think of it as developing someone else's skills and styles so that they make something unique to them. Robert and I are more friends than mentor/mentee. We joke around, help each other out, and throw around new ideas and processes that we haven't tried before. We both have different styles of making blades. Bladesmithing will forever be a learning experience for both of us.

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If you want to pass your knowledge on I would suggest doing dedicated classes on specific skills.
Whether forging, grinding, guards and handles, damasucs, etc.

If you have any contacts at folk or craft schools see if they will have you in for classes.
They deal with the students and the money.
If the students are not what you are looking for at least you got paid for your time and knowledge.

I'm confident people would show up to see you work and learn from you.

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I think, for every master looking for a student, there is a student looking for a master. Should I live anywhere closer I would be at your workshop in a heartbeat. Wesley I think is spot on, and it only takes a weird incident to find someone who has the fire that will last them decades. Both he and I are on Instagram a lot and I will tell you in recent years there has been an explosion of new makers whose skills are advancing at an incredible rate for being self taught. I can think of at least five guys in their teens that will carry this craft for a long time. If memory serves me, you're in Wisconsin right? I'll keep an eye out for the young folks in your area. Heck... I've been doing this alone for almost five years now and at least know my way around a blade shaped object but I'm hungry for more

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Hey JPH, I feel ya... to find a true student who will really become passionate and dedicated to the craft is quite tough.  Plenty will come and give it a try, but the sheer work involved and the initially slow-seeming pace of progress turns most away in short order.  With others, location or life in general get in the way...
Sounds like what you wish for is a disciple.  Not just a person to teach some methods to, but someone who can value and carry on your Way.  And, you deserve that... I don't know if a lot of kids these days know much about where the craft has come from, and its journey throughout the 20th century... but if some do, you can bet they'd realize what an honor and opportunity it would be to study with you.  Perhaps you'd find that perspective more in folks that really relied mostly on books, to learn the craft while toiling in our remote caves of solitude.  There are youngsters even now who exist in this mode; ironically they'd perhaps be less likely to see this.
There was a time when if I'd seen this, I'd have begun to look at what it would take to move to Nevada.  But, my own life and business have got me permanently locked down these days... I remember when I saw, years ago, that Kuo Chang Shi in Taiwan couldn't find a disciple- but of course Taiwan would have been quite a stretch.
It's good that you posted this thread, perhaps the right person will see it and heed the call.  

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Nevada? I was looking at a place in Henderson to move to, Disabled army vet and I live on that, but my god the chance to learn anything from you would be amazing.  Once I make the move in a month or so I am definitely interested in a few classes!

Edited by S. Cruse

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Hello:

Well...there have been a few that tried but the first time they have a close encounter with a grinder or get a small 2nd degree burn..they are no longer interested.. we are not making widgets here...almost everything in my studio can FUBAR you...you just have to be careful and respect the work for what it is...

Henderson?? I am in Henderson....that is until we move once the Missus is healed up...

JPH

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Sad to say, Jim, and I'm sure every generation may have said this to some extent, but a lot of young people don't want to invest time in learning unless they have guaranteed results. There are exceptions to this, of course, but I've seen too many cases of someone wanting for example to be told everything about how to make a forge-weld except that they also have to practice.

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I like Salem had a momentary thought of getting in touch and moving to NV, then the responsibility's of life  intruded on my thoughts. but it comes to my mind you might be looking for the wrong thing. it sounds like you are looking for a blank slate, perhaps that is not the thing you need, more someone that has move far enough along the path to truly grasp what you are offering.

I hope that you can find that person or that they find you.

MP

 

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Mr. Hrisoulas I've sent you three messages now and I'm not going to stop, you can spit on me, you can call me a dumb bastard, you can slap me in the face if I piss you off but I'm not going to stop until you tell me I'm not welcome in your shop. I moved out to my friends ranch for a couple months to figure out my life with a clear head and damnit john fahey is playing some really determined music on the computer while I type this. I bought a copy of the magazine KNIVES '93 (year of my birth) a few weeks ago and it's got your contact information in it, it's a little old but is it wrong that I take it as a sign? Mr. Hrisoulas I love the desert, you know what I have in austin? A broken home. I have an open road ahead of me and I'm eager to learn. I don't care if the grinder bites me, I don't care what hot metal falls in my shoes, it's going to anyways because I'll keep on making knives. I said we can learn from each other in one message I sent you, I didn't mean that I'll be teaching you anything because I'm sure I can't but each new experience in life opens the mind to thousands of new ideas, sparks start fires. I told you I chased a wild turkey yesterday for fun, the only reason it got away from me is because I can't fly over a creek. Well mr. Hrisoulas I can certainly fly to Nevada once I make the money to do so, like I said all I need to buy is food and propane and I think you might have the propane covered. I know our styles are different but you don't want to make the same knives as me do you? I make working miniatures, I make full sized knives, I want to make double sized giant monsters, I want to make keris, I want to make big ol cowboy bowies and knives that are just as big in spirit but small enough to fit in my pocket. For the past five years or more I have lived in a shed or a garage and right now my room in Austin is my knife shop with a futon under a loft where I keep my wood so for me to stop making knives I would have to disappear from the face of the earth. I'm far away but I'm still gonna be that neighbor kid that bugs the heck out of you. After that turkey got away from me I spent another twenty minutes walking in a big circle, squatting in the woods looking between the tall grass and the low branches. I know I can't see the turkey if it's moving slower than me, but I can't ignore the incredible pace of your work. If this was my property here on this ranch I'd have all kinds of crafts people working together, instead I have nothing but a few hammers. I can sleep on the floor of your shop or outside or anywhere, when I get back to austin in about a month I think, I'm getting a job and saving my money to see you work. My time is worthless next to yours and I don't care about money I don't need fancy things unless I need to make them, for a day or a year I will spend the money on a plane ticket to Nevada and I can save enough to feed myself for a long while. I'm no blank slate, I know enough to make a knife, but the slate is infinite.

 

If im rambling on its because I'm not going to stop. 

I understand the urge to share the real magic of knife making, if I do know what the magic is. 

So please, sir, share it with me so it can continue to grow in me and so I can spread the message of the universe. 

 

Mr. Hrisoulas, do you have handles on your files? Do you use a fancy sanding block or a piece of wood? What do you do with a turkey once you catch it if you don't want to eat it? 

I'll have access to a telephone while I'm back in Austin this weekend, and I would sure like to give you a call. 

 

Thats all, for now. 

 

Edited by steven smith

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Wait only Nevada? Still quite the drive but dang... looks like you already have a taker

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Sorry working extended hours due to RPFS and other demands..will answer via direct message... Note I am only in Nevada for the next short while..once the Missus is healed up we are moving down to Florida..Nevada has gotten to Californicated for me...  Besides..smaller home...bigger studio and larger hunk of land...

JPH

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