In 2012, eighteen exhibitors showed off their creations at the 1st annual Metal Art Show and Sale held at the Reynolds Alberta Museum. In 2014, the show grew to more than forty exhibitors who were scattered among the antique vehicles, farm machinery, vintage aircraft and industrial machinery in the Reynolds Alberta Museum. Displays of stunning jewelry, custom knives, chainmail, steam punk, and sculptures; creations from sterling silver, copper and Damascus Steel were on display and for sale. All items are hand crafted.
Returning for a third year was Ed Storch from Mannville, Alberta. “I made my first knife when I was twelve years old. It was from a broken saw blade and axe handle on the farm at Hanna. Now my knives are purchased by collectors and chefs throughout the world.” Knives in the show ranged in price from $100 to more than $1200.
Storch has been more serious about making knives since the early 1960’s, when he went to Olds College to pursue a hobby that would evolve into a business. “My time is divided into thirds; a third making knives for custom orders, a third teaching classes and a third marketing my products.”
The majority of Storch’s knives are special orders with clients outlining specific features and details. “I view my knives as an investment in the future, a legacy to be passed from one generation to the next.”
Storch explained how to get started with knife making, “There are two basic ways to create a handmade knife from steel. The easiest way to get started in knife making is to start with stock removal. You get a piece of stock steel and grind away everything until it looks like a knife.”
With stock removal, the knife maker removes pieces and shapes a piece of stock steel by cutting, grinding and shaping it into a knife. The knife is completed by heat treating (hardening and tempering), attaching a handle and polishing it. Designs and artist’s logos or identification may be added.
“Once you have mastered stock removal, you can carry on with Damascus. It’s more expensive and a lot more work.” The Damascus knife is the ultimate challenge in a blacksmith’s ability.”
Damascus knives are made by sandwiching different types of steel, similar to a deck of cards. The stack is heated in a forge and fire welded or hammered together on an anvil. The stack is drawn out to the desired length. It is then cut and restacked and re-welded until the desired number of layers are produced. The process is continued over and over and creates a single piece of metal containing layers of different metals producing different designs in each knife.
Once the knife maker decides how he wants the blade to be shaped, he uses a chisel and hammer to systematically cut away all the extra metal scraps to form an outline. Additional hammering along the exterior thins the metal to form the edge of the knife. Once the knife blade has been shaped and hardened, the handle is installed.
Storch has created a new hardening technique that will retain a sharp edge on his knives even when cutting steel.
Metal artists from across Western Canada were present. Learn more about each artist and take a look at some samples of their metal art: http://www.history.alberta.ca/reynolds/specialevents/metalartshow.aspx
Pictured: Ed Storch can cut steel with steel. Photo by Barry McDonald. See more photos in this week's paper.