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Russ Ellis
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Joined: 20 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Tue 03 Jun, 2008 6:30 am    Post subject: Blade Show Musings         Reply with quote

Okay, apparently I'm a bit pensive this morning, so I thought I would post some of my impressions of the 2008 Blade Show this year. Perhaps I'm just projecting a bit but it seemed to be kind of a down year. I was a little aggravated personally because although I had intended on traveling Thursday and being there Friday for the open we had our prime contractor show up to "help" us with some stuff and so instead I was tied up in a week of meetings that finally ended at 5:00 on Friday afternoon. Therefore I did not get to go until Saturday and then it was just a quick trip.

Alright so the narrative of my travels through the event...

I always walk in the door, make a hard right and cover the perimeter of the floor before working my way through the tables. I spent some time at the SOG booth because I wanted to get my hands on one of their Vulcan folders to see if I liked it (very nice) but I imagine that not to many of you are interested in that.

The first sword booth I got to on the perimeter was the CAS booth. They got rid of that annoying tent this year which certainly helped with the cloying claustrophobia they have induced the last couple of years. I noticed James Williams was there talking to someone and I did a quick look around. I didn't particularly notice any new offerings from them this year with the notable exception that they had Mr. Pierces prototypes hanging front and center on their back wall. I got a chance to handle all of them and while I was doing so was accosted by Mr. Ross and we spent some time talking about them. The swords handled pretty much exactly like you would expect a Tinker sword to handle so Hanwei apparently did a pretty good job of faithfully reproducing Mr. Pierce's work. Mr. Pierce has noted in the past that he isn't particularly interested in producing a sword that isn't crazy fast in the balancing department, but he slipped up and did a single hander this time that didn't feel like his other stuff... BUT it did feel like a sword of that type should feel. Happy It was interesting to compare the sharp blades and the blunts side by side for the same hilts and see the variations necessary to compensate for the extra metal in the blunts. The fit on the swords was top notch, very tight tolerances. I didn't particularly personally care for the finishes on these prototypes, as the hilt and pommels looked chromy (mirror polished) while the blades looked dull. The square grips on some of the prototypes were rather uncomfortable, but Mr. Ross explained that Mr. Pierce had already vetoed those grips and that they were going to redo them. For the price point I expect that these swords will (and should) do pretty well. Good luck to Mr. Pierce in that endeavor!

So I continued on until I reached the Albion Booth. Amazingly there wasn't a giant crowd of folks gathered around it (a momentary lull I assure you) so I was able to actually wander right up and talk to Mr. Sigman a bit. He was as affable as ever and did his best to make sure that I had every release from this last year in my hands. As it usual with Albion everything was absolutely gorgeous the level of detail in the castings of the Valkyrja in particular was VERY nice. Albion certainly doesn't seem to have lost a step at all in their attention to detail, nor their friendliness to their customers
Things started picking up there, and I had monopolized Mr. Sigman long enough so I wandered on around the perimeter.

I eventually made it back to the front of the room and started down the left hand column of tables. One of the first tables I came to was Mr. Paul Jarvis. I've talked to Mr. Jarvis the last couple of years and he's always one of the nicest guys at the show. His work isn't particularly my cup of tea as it is very ornate, complete with gold and silver inlays, jewels etc. but his craftsmanship is absolutely top notch. This year he was exhibiting a fairly large quillon dagger. I spent quite some time talking to him about how he crafted different aspects of the dagger. It really was quite amazing. Then I noted that he was sporting one of the Blade Show awards and asked him what he had won for. He said that it was for best sword. I was floored. Best sword? Yes it was an amazing piece of craftsmanship (an art knife really) but 1) It was a dagger not a sword and 2) It wasn't even a particularly well proportioned dagger. At that point I was a little nervous about our sword smiths this year and moved on.

The first swordsmith that I actually got to was Mr. Barrett. Rick's a heck of a nice guy and I spent quite a bit of time shooting the breeze with he and Chris Osborne. Part of the mystery was solved at his table, although he had a couple of katana blades there and this monstrous orcish cleavery sort of chopper there wasn't a sword in sight. Mr. Barrett mentioned that he had done more knives for the show this year because he thought they might sell a little better. We talked about all sorts of stuff and even hatched the start of a plan for some interesting custom pieces. More on that eventually...

At the back of that row of tables I found Kit Rae. That was a bit odd. For years Mr. Rae has been handled pretty much exclusively through United Cutlery. I guess the contract must have run out or he was released when UC folded and then was bought by BudK. I know BudK is still selling Rae products although I do not know if that is new pieces or existing stock. Anyway I did not spend any time talking to Mr. Rae but it was interesting to see his designs and art work up close and personal. You have to hand it to him, he's got a great imagination and a very smart marketing plan.

On I went, I think the next swordsmith that I came to was Mr. Cashen. At the time he was vigorously engaged in a conversation with a gentleman about just how and why the world trade center came down. There's all sorts of stuff going on at the Blade Show. Happy I noticed something about his table right away... not a sword in sight. All Mr. Cashen had this year was a hunter and another quillon dagger. Eventually the WTC guy went away and we talked about his business and what had been transpiring in Matherton Forge that year.

On I went until I reached Mr and Mrs Evan's table. In a room full of mostly nice folks they still stand out. They really are just some of the most fabulous human beings you could meet. Their table featured a gorgeous viking sword, chinese saber and sax, all of course sold (in fact they were sold well before the show). I didn't even ask to pick them up, as I know that sometimes puts them in a weird position with the customer who now actually owns the pieces. I just looked and was as usual impressed by the craftsmanship and attention to detail in each of their pieces. Mr. Evans tweaked me about a certain book he had beat me to, we talked about their plans for this year and just generally caught up on the happenings of the last 365 days. At one point Mr. Cashen wandered over and it was a real treat to listen to the to of them talk metal (among other things). It was obvious at the Evans table who really had the best custom swords at the show as well as the personality awards for the year. Happy

In summation this year seemed to be sort of a down year at the Blade Show as far as swords go. The only thing I bought was a side of leather and a wart hog tusk for current projects. Two of the major swordsmiths didn't even have a sword on their table. Also it appears that some more education of those doing the judging is going to be needed considering the piece that was awarded best sword this year. However, as time goes on I find that the Blade Show become less and less about the individual swords (although of course that is a VERY good excuse to get together) and more and more about catching up with the friends I've made and seeing what their future direction is. Even in a down year it is always worth going to the Blade Show!!!!

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Joe Fults




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Joined: 02 Sep 2003

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PostPosted: Tue 03 Jun, 2008 6:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Calling it a down year, just from the swords perspective or from the event overall?

How were the crowds?

AND...

...where is the picture of that wooden hat you mentioned in the other thread? Cool

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
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Russ Ellis
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Joined: 20 Aug 2003
Reading list: 42 books

Posts: 2,607

PostPosted: Wed 04 Jun, 2008 6:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
Calling it a down year, just from the swords perspective or from the event overall?

How were the crowds?

AND...

...where is the picture of that wooden hat you mentioned in the other thread? Cool


Well definitely from the sword perspective, and I think the crowd was a little down this year to, I think that there's a bit of an economic pinch for some folks. I might be wrong about the latter though, it's hard to accurately gauge the crowd, is it a gigantic huge crowd of folks with knives or merely a gigantic crowd of folks with knives? Happy

I'll post those pictures tonight honest!

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