Ed Fowler You Need to open your eyes

Discussion in 'Custom & Handmade Knives' started by SAR, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. bob7

    bob7

    260
    Jan 8, 2003
    Custom Knife Fans,
    If I was a young knife maker instead of the pornstar that I am...:D, anyway, I would have been chuffed at the following paragraph:

    "I find myself asking, “Where are the new guys making simple but honest working knives?” Where are the young makers? Who will take over when the old guard is no more? As I walked through Blade Magazine Cutlery Hall-Of-Famer© A.G. Russell’s 2008 Knife Event, I saw one young maker, Neil Lindsay, who has been working under the guidance of Cutlery Hall-Of-Famer© Dan Dennehy for about 13 years. There were no more young makers there to come to my attention. I worry for our future."

    I mean, Ed Fowler couldn't have asked that question after attending a Blade Show where there are lots of makers younger than Mr. Fowler making knives that could be describes as simple. But, he asked the question after a birthday party for a gentleman of 75 years w/ an obviously older crowd in attendance. Zing, right over the head.

    Secondly, should a person who is essentially making the same knife over and over again but prices it so far out of most peoples' price point for owning or even using the knife ask a question involving ideas that include simple, honest, and working? No, no he shouldn't.

    The rest of the article can be explained away as a nice way of encouraging and mentoring younger makers, but Mr. Fowler kind of soured that idea w/ the above quoted paragraph.

    Sincerely,
    bob7
     
  2. T.A.DAVISON

    T.A.DAVISON Slip Joint Knife Maker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 24, 2005
    I like Ed, I think he is a pretty nice guy. :) :thumbup:

    And I think he has done a LOT for custom knives...... :thumbup:

    TA


    .
     
  3. butcher_block

    butcher_block

    Dec 6, 2004
    dam i guess i have to run to town now and get a Blade
    i ll let you all know how that turns out
    till then

    ill just keep making knives and being happy to do so
     
  4. Lorien

    Lorien KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 5, 2005
    I'm so glad to see the BF workin' man's knives crew chiming in on this forum.:thumbup:

    There is a disconnect within the custom/handmade knife forum, and probably the knife community in general, when it comes to handmade knives, I think.
    - high end complicated collectible vs. affordable simple tool.
    None but a very few are 'art'. Whatever that is;)

    I recall a recent conversation in here where someone tossed out the idea of making knives for a hundred bucks. Well, there are certainly guys out there doing that kind of thing all the time, right in front of us, who have been earning reputations for themselves and gradually learning the craft.
    Investing their time more so than money.
    Spending a lot on tools and education is a good way to come up with a highly finished product relatively quickly, which must be sold at a higher price, but being able to produce as highly finished a product without the financial investment in technological aids shows a very high level of skill and attention to detail. Getting to that point, learning that way and maintaining prolific production with the only big investment being ones time...
    Maybe that's partly what Ed Fowler is referring to.

    Everyone seems to wonder who the next legend or superstar is going to be, and I'll bet that in the fullness of time, we'll find that they were right under our noses the whole time, pumping out affordable, workin' man's knives.
     
  5. A. G. Russell

    A. G. Russell

    Mar 10, 2001
    Bob,

    Hardly, the Blade show is the premier event of the knife world with maybe 600 makers, my little show was a regional show with about 100 makers. Yes there was a heavy dose of the greats, you can see who was there at www.knifeevent.com you will find some new amoung the old.
    Ed may have missed some of the newer makers because there did not seem to be anything on the tables that looked as if it were made by a new maker.

    Today there is so much help available for a begening maker that it seldom takes years for a maker to do good looking knives. My knives looked home made for 15 years. Today I see makers who go from homemade to handmade in a year or less.
     
  6. Ed Fowler

    Ed Fowler

    Jul 21, 2001
    Blade did not post up a photo of the knife that inspired the article. Dan gave it to AG as a birthday present. It is a knife that I could write a small book about and never cover adequately what that knife represents. When the magazine gets to all subscribers and on the stands maybe more will understand the point I am trying to make.

    Many of the historical knives that have inspired me are unsigned other than through the knowledge and art of the maker. Some knives stand alone, an unsigned 1938 Ruana, the Scagel fish knife, the Huber, a knife from Michael Price's shop that we believe was made by his father that provided me with a lesson in blade geometry that continues to inspire me. The Aime's Rifleman's Knife, a D-Guard Bowie that was differentially hardened, another from India probably made in the 1800's. Three stone age knives, two that stand alone by virtue of creative craftsmanship and special knowledge of their makers and one by virtue of its simplicity. Many knives from the Philippines know great talent and understanding. Frank Richtig made some great knives and marketed them with pure genious. All of the above knives had that something special that spoke to me.

    There were many great makers at AG's Show, their names well known and their knives are also special. Dan Denenndy's knife was one I felt would carry the message I hoped to share.

    I thank all who participate in this discussion, for me it is good times and I continue to learn.
     
  7. John T Wylie Jr

    John T Wylie Jr

    Feb 1, 2007
    Good morning Mr Fowler ,

    Could please explain what you meant by " working mans knife " in the article.
    I am trying to figure out if you were referring to a solid using knife void of fancy materials , or a knife with , what I believe you referred to as "home".

    It would be much appreciated.

    Spent a few hours last night reading your forum , and I learned a few things.
    Thanks.
     
  8. Keith Montgomery

    Keith Montgomery

    May 9, 2000
    The goal of this article by Ed was to get people thinking and talking. It appears to have worked. Articles like that are bound to rankle some people. This certainly isn't the first time that something written by Ed has done that. As long as it gets people thinking, I think this article will have served its purpose.

    I think there are lots of new makers that are making honest working knives, and I don't think there is anything wrong in making knives that are outside the working knife genre either. Ed has his own views on this subject, and they differ from mine, but that doesn't mean that I have any less respect for the path that he has taken. It's just that I don't think that his path is the only one that can lead to innovation, culture and creativity.
     
  9. PhilL

    PhilL

    Oct 1, 1999
    Ed, you're stirring up the pot again, just like you did with your article on makers leaving shows early.

    You're making people think and react. I know that you don't expect or want everyone to think like you do in your writing or in your knives. You want people to think for themselves and never be satisfied with less than their best. You want them to share the sheer joy that you get with each knife that you complete. It brings you one step closer to your dream of Exalibur. Knowing that it is a dream and a journey that has no end. But, that the joy is in the journey.
     
  10. imp

    imp

    206
    Oct 3, 1998
    sar I didn't see where you posted this on the green forum? could you do that please?
     
  11. DXC

    DXC

    50
    Dec 20, 2004
    If you are a full time maker and feed your family with those wages there is only one judge that really counts and he/she is the customer. Do what works for you and feed those kids. All the rest is just fluff. You need to be a businessman first and then a knifemaker or you will be forced back into your old day job. Make what your customers buy.
     
  12. irbailey

    irbailey

    628
    May 11, 2008
    As a Blade subscriber, I always enjoy Ed's articles, and own both of his Knife Talk books.
    I'm also a new maker, and can see where he's coming from.
    Most of my knives are inspired by either Bob Loveless, Bill Moran or Jimmy Lile.
    This is because, to me, they are what I would consider to be (in most cases) solid working tools refined to a point just below "art knives". By this I mean knives including mosaic damascus, mother of pearl, engraving, etc.
    I've got no problem with upper scale "art knives", but I can see that Ed is of the "pure performance" school of thought, and sees little point in such embelishment, because when a knife is stripped back to basics, its a cutting tool, and a cutting tool only.
    The article to me was saying that new makers should follow their own direction, rather than follow whatever the current trend is.
    To me, the biggest problem for a new maker IS to make something original, due to the 100s possibly 1000s of designs already out there.
    That said, I will continue to make whatever people want and whatever makes me happy.
    To make a knife that can instantly be recognised as "yours" such as a Fowler, Loveless or Moran must be something that all makers must aspire to!
    I know I certainly do!
    Regards, Ian

    Sorry, double post!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2008
  13. irbailey

    irbailey

    628
    May 11, 2008
    As a Blade subscriber, I always enjoy Ed's articles, and own both of his Knife Talk books.
    I'm also a new maker, and can see where he's coming from.
    Most of my knives are inspired by either Bob Loveless, Bill Moran or Jimmy Lile.
    This is because, to me, they are what I would consider to be (in most cases) solid working tools refined to a point just below "art knives". By this I mean knives including mosaic damascus, mother of pearl, engraving, etc.
    I've got no problem with upper scale "art knives", but I can see that Ed is of the "pure performance" school of thought, and sees little point in such embelishment, because when a knife is stripped back to basics, its a cutting tool, and a cutting tool only.
    The article to me was saying that new makers should follow their own direction, rather than follow whatever the current trend is.
    To me, the biggest problem for a new maker IS to make something original, due to the 100s possibly 1000s of designs already out there.
    That said, I will continue to make whatever people want and whatever makes me happy.
    To make a knife that can instantly be recognised as "yours" such as a Fowler, Loveless or Moran must be something that all makers must aspire to!
    I know I certainly do!
    Regards, Ian
     
  14. Ed Fowler

    Ed Fowler

    Jul 21, 2001
    John: A working knife is one that is designed and developed to do the intended job. For some it may be a letter opener, for another it may have to trim sheet rock, lever a door, cut insulation, open a paint can and strip wire and trim shingles. All working knives should be rated by the maker as to what they can do and their limitations, just honest presentation of the knife for what she is.
    Blade geometry, the steel you use and your knowledge of that steel are only gained through testing.A lot of study is required on the part of the maker, you never know the limits of your knife until you test it to destruction. No book can reveal the information gained through testing a random sample to destruction. Test your knives doing the jobs they are meant for and test relentlessly. The knowledge gained will be your greatest achievement.

    If you make light duty knives, advise clients as to the limits of the knife.

    Some claim I have been making the same knife for years, they do not see the changes. You need to learn to see, ask questions and test the answers. Home is where you live, every experience, what you see and what you love. Home is you. Home can be expressed through a milling machine or piece of sandpaper. The more you find home the more dear it becomes to you. Books can guide you home as can a movie, your bride or your dog. I just finished reading Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath for the second time, my next knife will have a little more 'home' in her. There are many knives out there, only a few are ever truly seen. A photo of Lauren Bacall's face (lips) inspired a Bowie I made. Inspiration comes from many venues. Many can draft the surface of a knife to perfection and never know the knife.

    Finding home is a life long journey.
    In my humble opinion, these aspects are part of what make an artist.
    I hope this answers your question.



    Thanks for visiting our form.
     
  15. 2knife

    2knife

    Mar 13, 2002
    Finally, i can say something, silent for fear of opening my mouth once too often.

    I can vouch for Ed's knives having an evolution. By appearance, if you merely glanced, you would not see the changes his knives have gone through. I have studied the physical differences through a time frame of a good decade, and there are telltale signs that follow his designs as they develop. His ideas change. At Blade each year i see new areas in the knives, these are of great interest to me- seeing what new ideas and new shapes in his knives as they develop.

    No two knives are ever alike.
    Twists and curves are just part of the puzzle. One knife might fit you perfectly, the next, not in the least. This is the fun, finding the perfect fit- and seeing what interesting things he finds in the horn too. A natural kind of quest, and this is just in the handle, solving the puzzle, and being an artist - I think he enjoys it!

    One interesting aspect to me IS the established framwork, which IS consistent through the years. Ed weaves an utter symphony with his "threads". He turns the "straw to gold", as my eyes tell me.

    Here's a few to gander at:

    http://s244.photobucket.com/albums/gg30/dmullikin
    David
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2008
  16. John T Wylie Jr

    John T Wylie Jr

    Feb 1, 2007
    Mr. Fowler :

    Thanks for the reply. Your definition mirrors mine.

    Testing to destruction is a great way to learn , I have destroyed a few myself.

    Thanks again.

    JTW
     
  17. Michael Lovett

    Michael Lovett

    963
    May 25, 2007
    This post hits the nail on the head! And not understood by so many!
    (Many can draft the surface of a knife to perfection and never know the knife.) This is the most profound and truest thing to my mind, that you have ever printed here Ed!! Once again, my hat is off to you! There is much to learn and understand here, if one will only stop and consider. ;)

    Mike Lovett
     
  18. Lorien

    Lorien KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 5, 2005
    "Finding home is a life long journey."

    Ed Fowler- 2008

    I'm having a lot of neat ideas right now. Ed Fowler, I'm picking up what you're putting down.:):D
     
  19. scottickes

    scottickes

    Oct 27, 2005
    Ed and I sat in chairs outside his shop a short time back talking about knives. I mentioned to him about his many articles that referred to his search for excalibur. One thought that I expressed was that although he may or may not have found "his" excalibur yet, many of the knives he has made over the years were excalibur for the person that he made the knife for. For some, excalibur is a working man's knife (see my definition of working man's knife later in this post), and for others excalibur is an exotic, highly embellished, exotic material knife with all the bells and whistles.

    We are all on our own search for excalibur. For some, excalibur is an honest working man's knife made by Mr. Fowler. For others, it is a knife made by Hanson or Wheeler or Caffrey or Ray Richard.....or lord help them...made by Scott Ickes. Who knows what the excalibur is for any one individual? Who knows what an honest working man's knife is to each individual person?

    I don't think any of this has to be put into a general category of any kind. Some makers make what they themselves consider an honest working man's knife. It may not be what others would consider an honest working man's knife, but that's just because each of us has a different interpretation of "honest working man's" knife as a definition.

    If you remove the word "honest" from the name and just call it a "working man's knife", then we come back to will it be used or put into a safe? I think it's fair to remove "honest" from the name, because all that implies is that the knife is what it is represented to be. Made by the maker that put his name on it is what makes it an honest knife. The entire conversation comes down to "a working man's knife", which is a knife that is used. No more, no less!

    I make knives to be used. I make knives that end up in safes that are never used, and only looked at occasionally. What is really cool, is that some of my "working man's knives" are knives that were made to be used, but become "safe knives". Just because the owner of one of my knives puts it into a safe doesn't mean that it isn't a working man's knife.

    My definition of a working man's knife is:
    A working man's knife is a cutting tool that was made that will easily and effortlessly accomplish the task that it was designed to perform, at a reasonable price, that makes it accessible to the general public.

    What is really intriguing is that a particular knife that is on a makers table might be a working man's knife to one person and not to the next person to pass by that table. The only difference being that the price is within the first persons reach and not within the second ones reach. Think about that for a second.

    Now think about this next part. Mr. Fowlers knives will easily perform the task that they are designed to perform, so they meet that part of the criteria as a working man's knives. But, will each and every person that has money in their pocket that walks by his table be able to afford one of his knives? Absolutely not. So to some people, Mr. Fowler makes great working man's knives. To some other people, Mr. Fowler does not make working man's knives, because they are a working man that does not have the economic means to purchase one of Mr. Fowlers knives.

    This thread is proof of Mr. Fowlers ability to provoke discussion and raise the awareness in all of us. He once again has shown us why he writes for Blade Magazine.

    Thanks Ed. I look forward to more thought provoking articles from you.

    Your friend,
     
  20. Marcel54

    Marcel54

    Jul 30, 2005
    I read the article twice and for me it is only thought provoking being a city slicker with an appetite for nice knives. This thread is thought provoking as well...great, and civil, discussion and an example of why I joined BF in the first place.:thumbup::thumbup:

    Marcel
     

Share This Page