Philosophical Meanderings

The home-page of this site mentions a a certain 'motto'... three lines of latin to which i try to holod my craft and my art.

Nil Nil Nil Nisi....

Much of my work is informed by my philosophical and relegious beliefs. This sounds rather strange comming from an atheist/agnostic! I won't sit here and say that i'm "spiritual" or that i have "faith" un humanity. No no, i passed from one religion, through another, throught another still, until i coalesced the best of each into a set of beliefs and rituals by which i strive to live. It is perhaps most inspired by the Church of Discordia (of which i am pope, and if you're reading this, so are you!) in that it is either a joke which poses as a religion, or a religion which poses as a joke. Being, however as how it informs (and is informed by) how i think, and act, it is a very important part of my life, and therefore my work! ...And i dare say, it very often shows.

Read the Nowekiam Manifest


on Sole-Authorship

This is a term that comes up most often in Blade-smithing.... The basic idea is that a craftsman may be considered sole author of his blade when he has performed every step of its construction. As one is not often prone to smelting his own ore (or growing his own wooden handles, for instance), there arises some debate as to exactly how much of the knife should be smithed by the craftsman in order that he may consider himself sole author. Many a forum is filled with page after page of comments, debates, rants (this one included i suppose) and ideas on the subject. My philosophy on the matter is simply this: as much of my craft as i'm able to do myself, i do myself!

But why...?

Aside from the (quickly declining, unfortunately) value and mystique of a hand-crafted object, i feel it is especially important in art, and in craft, that the artist, or atisan be as involved in the making of a thing as he is able, from start to finish!

For artists, this needs be for their art to truly mean what they want it to mean. That is, if the intent of the artist is key in qualifying the success of his art (and i argue that it ultimately is) then it must be his intent which guides its outcome.... As Chandler once said: "There is no art without resistance of the medium!" An artist who simply designs a piece and hands it off to another to build, can claim only the design as his own, and not the piece itself.

For an arisan, the importance of sole-authorship is similar, but more a question of control. Having one set of hands be responsible for the object the entire way through is the only way one can truly garantee its quality. On this many (not i, by the by) might agree, however, in my opinion, over and above this, there is a certain level of respect that drives one to manage every step of production. Many are tempted to exclude the materials from this definition and for the most part, i would also agree; as far back as you would like to go, there will always be something readymade for you to use. To get really rediculous, "if you want to make a [blade] from scratch, you must first [craft] the universe!" :)

However, i feel it is a matter of respect that the term should be used sparringly. Because there are those who actually do go so far as to harvest their own wood, die their own screws, smelt their own iron, plate or anodize their own steel, even cook their own glue! (Keeping on the topic of forged blades, one is reminded immediately of the Japanese Katana- a blade for whom the iron ore is smelted, and the carbon added to make it steel, yet it passes through several top-notch craftsman from conception to completion...!)

Were there none, who actually went so far as to harvest their materials first hand, the term might be justly applied willy-nilly across the board. Because there are, however, many stick to more general terms, such as: custom, hand-made, one of a kind, etc., so as not to devalue the term, leaving it to those who truly 'deserve' it.

When i make knives, i strive always, for as much intervention as i can physically & technically squeeze into it! From the rivets, to the fittings, i will even make the sheath if one was included! (In fact, the forges i use, both gas and coke are both made by yours truly...!) Apart from blades, it is i who make any and all accessories that come with any and all of my other pieces and products! Often right down to the rivets....

All this i do whensoever i can, of course. Some of the smallest electrical parts, or raw materials i find, or have made, even som parts of the process that are out of my capabilities, or for which i haven't the machinery or the resources to take care of myself. There are times, instead when it is a deliberate choice to include the hands of other artists, whose style has touched me in some way! I am under no illusions to the contrary, and i make no excuses for the term or them that use it! (Should they so choose, i certainly won't stop them.) To the contrary, i simply don't use the term for myself. I do however, strive for the idea, and consider it always, my highest goal.

for example!