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Thread: Art Knives and Working Knives

  1. #1
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    Art Knives and Working Knives


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    Why does it often feels like it has to be a contest between both? I mean as long as there is no misrepresentation, both have their strengths and these are what we should focus on. I am saddened to see people having to point out flaws in other people's work and for what? To elevate theirs, to make themselves feel better or even in a misplaced attempt at informing others?

    Not sure what their motivation is but I don't really care, it doesn't do any good. And this works for art knives or working knives alike. Sadly I see this happening more for art knives. I mean, you rarely see (I've never actually seen it) an art knife maker say something like “Those knives may cut like crazy but if you ever saw them in person, you'd be shocked how ugly they looked”. But I am sure it may have happened and it is just as bad.

    Like Tai said, it's simply about what the customer wants from the knife. Performance is relative to that. For art knives, the purpose is to be enjoyable to look at and if you are really lucky, maybe even generate emotions in the viewer. Same as when listening to an opera or looking at a painting. In that regard it is performing as well as a working knife, with perfect edge geometry/etc, is performing at cutting.

    So what do you say we try and focus on each other's strengths? Maybe both sides can benefit from this, the end results being knives a little closer to line separating both.
    Last edited by Patrice Lemée; 05-26-2012 at 12:24 AM.
    Patrice Lemée



  2. #2
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    Well said Patrice!!

    I appreciate all knives. My personal preference is to follow my muse, and to sit back and enjoy watching where other people go with their vision.

    I admit I don't care for sci-fi Klingon 6 bladed knives, but also know that the people who make them and buy them have their own opinion.

    I personally want to make only knives that are works of art that have the heat treat nailed. Works if art that cut.

    I have heard too much talk that art knives can't cut. Maybe some, but as a stereotype? Really?

    BTW, you and Tai are largely responsible for getting me to look into the artistic side of knives deeper.

  3. #3
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    The difference between practical knives and art knives is like comparing a canvas tarp to the Mona Lisa. They are two different products intended for very different audiences. Obviously there is some middle ground, which depends laregly on the depth of the customer's wallet. If someone wants to use a $10K knife to chop wood then power to them. But, for the most part you cannot use the same yardstick to measure these knives.

    n2s
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    There is no good, no evil, no saints, no demons; There are just ordinary people making ordinary choices.

  4. #4
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    I basically agree. I think in addition (and probably more specific to my experience), so called "art knives" are about expressing something inside me more than evoking something in someone else. If it has an effect on someone else, that's a bonus. If it doesn't, it still achieved the primary goal of expressing something inside me.

    I've always been interested in art, but never very thoroughly trained in it. My wife has given me much more exposure and experience to art than I ever had before I met her. I honestly believe people who vehemently preach function over form don't understand that form serves a function. Perhaps not as directly utilitarian as cutting open boxes, chopping 2x4s, or cutting inch thick rope in midair... but they DO serve a purpose, as Patrice indicated.

    I don't expect the purely utilitarian makers to ever fully appreciate things that have more focus on form... and that's fine, because those who prefer artsy knives will probably never really appreciate the ability of their utilitarian blades to hack through brush, cut up dozens of carcasses, and still be sharp enough to slice through paper. I personally have no need to hack up carcasesses or cut paths through brush, so how COULD I appreciate that?

  5. #5
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    Art knives are a reflection of the creativity and emotions of the artist/maker and the result is unlimited as to what can be done in making a piece of art which in this case is a knife. It's inspiring to see these works of art with their tones of emotions and mood which are a reflection of the maker and their personality. Its hard to find the right words here.

    But such work is a pleasure to the eye and mind, and should be proudly displayed and perhaps even carefully used.

  6. #6
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    "Art Knives" are a subjective medium by nature. While knifemakers will to agree to some extent on what characteristics make a knife cut, the question of what makes a knife beautiful is defined by the individual, not by the physics of parting materials. Art collectors pay thousands and even millions of dollars for paintings and other artworks that I wouldn't allow in my living room.

    If you are going to make art you should expect a certain amount of criticism when you put it on display. Artists tend to be emotionally invested in their work and in my opinion they should take responsibility for that, knowing that not everyone has the taste to appreciate any individual artwork. You can pick what you work with and what you make with it, but if you put it in public you don't get to pick your critics.

    In the same vein, those who view art should appreciate the difference between opinions and a judgements, and give any feedback with this in mind. This part is a pipe dream when dealing with the general public, and other artists...

  7. #7
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    I have to ask, what started this thread? I haven't noticed anyone critizing art knives, or working knives for that matter. I'm puzzled.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Stifle View Post
    I'm puzzled.
    Me too.
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  9. #9
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    I would guess it to have been the comment made about blades seen at shows that were beautiful, but would not cut.

  10. #10
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    I am sorry, I should have been more clear about that. It is not a big deal and not directed at any particular comments. I am not saying it's an all out war here, just the occasional comments here and there. And yes Greg, James last observations about being disheartened by his heroes an so many beautiful knives being almost useless got me thinking about this. Don't get me wrong, I am not angry, more saddened if it is true and if not, well I wanted to maybe find a solution, perception wise.

    Again folks, didn't mean to start anything here. Anyone who knows me should know that it is not what I do.

    I must say we have some great post here from Bufford and n2s. They say what I think much better than I can.
    Patrice Lemée



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by tryppyr View Post
    I would guess it to have been the comment made about blades seen at shows that were beautiful, but would not cut.
    and forged blades are better than stock removal...and carbon blades are better than stainless...it's just one more of the hundreds of opinions that abound in the knife making community. Patrice, don't let that stuff bother you, brother. Make what you want! I do.

  12. #12
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    Well, shoot. I didn't mean to start anything, either. My comments about some knives (you will notice that I don't name names in that regard - it's not my intent at all to bring anyone down) are being taken a bit too seriously. There a great many "art knives" that do indeed have superlative geometry and would surely cut very well. In fact that's probably more often the case than not. But the exceptions to that, quite frankly puzzle me.
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  13. #13
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    Some things never change...

    I like making both, art knives, users, both extremes and everything in between. Variety is the spice of life! When I was first starting out my primary focus was on art knives. At some point I guess I got a little tired of that and starting making more users. Don't know how that works out philosophically, but it helped break things up and was a good business move. If I had primarily made users,... making a few art knives would have been an equally good move business wise.

    I think Patrice has a point. If you just make art knives, folks will say your knives won't get used and/or won't cut. If you just make users, folks will say you have no appreciation for beauty and are just a blue collar tool maker.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tai Goo View Post
    ...just a blue collar tool maker.
    Some folks would take that as a compliment
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  15. #15
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    Thanks David, I will continue to venture outside the box don't worry.

    Quote Originally Posted by james terrio View Post
    ...In fact that's probably more often the case than not. But the exceptions to that, quite frankly puzzle me.
    See, just that clarification makes a big difference. Exceptions I can live with, there are always exceptions.

    Don't worry James, we are just discussing like we would do around some beers. That's how I see it and I am sure you do too, so it's all good.
    Patrice Lemée



  16. #16
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    I'm with you, Patrice. I don't see it as an argument either and would be glad to share a beverage with any of you.

    FWIW I like both carbon and stainless steels
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  17. #17
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    Mmmmmmm! Beer!

    At the 2011 OKCA show I was talking to Mike Quesenberry and he had a beautiful damascus dagger on his table. We had been talking for a few minutes and I had already showed him my first blade, it was also my first forged blade. A sad specimen...
    He was gracious with me and after looking at it we moved onto the dagger. He told me it had won best art knife.
    I looked at him and said, "that's not an art knife"...
    Thank god it was Mike. I think Dave Lisch or Chuck Richards would have stabbed me with it if it was theirs. (Sorry again Mike!!)
    Mike looked like he was going to at least choke me....

    I tried to back pedal and say that I thought of art knives as gaudy baubles bought at truck stops that had 6 blades....

    Personally I find this conversation intersting, but not upsetting.
    Last edited by Brian Ayres; 05-25-2012 at 11:47 AM.

  18. #18
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    This is almost like “left brain vs. right brain“.

    However, I would say that making a successful “functional art knife“, really takes both. Probably why that approach is so popular... It takes both and appeals to both.

    ... It's the most well balanced approach, classically referred to as "cutlers art".
    Last edited by Tai Goo; 05-25-2012 at 11:45 AM.

  19. #19
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    Smile

    [QUOTE=Brian Ayres;10894800]

    "......Chick Richards would have stabbed me with it if it was theirs. "

    Brian, Chick may still get ya! Lol

  20. #20
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    [QUOTE=David Stifle;10894835]
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Ayres View Post

    "......Chick Richards would have stabbed me with it if it was theirs. "

    Brian, Chick may still get ya! Lol
    #%^*. I edited that a little too slow. I blame the auto-fill on my iPhone!!!!

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