Jay Fisher - World Class Knifemaker
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"Sirara" Tactical Combat Knife
To collaborate literally means "to work together." In the world of handmade knives, a collaborative work is a knife that is built by several makers. Each maker adds his own name to the work in the form of a maker's mark, if the work is substantial enough to have merit.
When I write of merit, what I'm referring to is the significant labor, work, skill, or contribution that necessitates the identifying mark of an individual maker. For instance, it is common in this field to have an independent engraver embellish knives that are not made by the engraver. A knife maker will make a knife, then send it out to be engraved by the engraving artist and craftsman. Sometimes, the engraver is identified, but it is usually not a permanent marking on the blade, bolsters, fittings, or even in the engraving itself. In time, if the original paperwork or identifying details are lost, no one will know who engraved the work, and the people who contributed to the knife will be lost to history. In my opinion and the opinion of many in this field that losing this knowledge and record devalues the work. If the knife stands the test of time (as all good knives should), once the original owner does not pass on the details effectively, no one will know who may have engraved the knife, who may have made the sheath, or who may have performed other embellishment, such as scrimshaw and carving if these are done by artists and craftsmen other than the original knife maker.
In Enchanted Spirits Studio, I have worked hard over the decades to keep sole authorship of my own work clearly and cleanly identified. Of the knives I make and feature on this website, if a knife has only my maker's mark on it, absolutely all of the work is done by my hands. This includes all the blade fabrication, the handle creation, fittings, as well as the sheath, display stand, or case. If one of my knives is engraved, fileworked, or decoratively milled and carved, all of this is done by me if my singular maker's mark is on the knife. I've never farmed out any of my knives, nor do I farm out components and accessories. I believe that this authorship establishes the greatest and highest value on these works of art. Of course, if I sell a knife and the subsequent owner(s) have additional embellishment done, I have no control over that, although in the thirty years of doing this and the thousands of knives I've made, I've never heard of this happening yet.
Of the knives I make and feature on this website, if a knife has only my maker's mark on it, absolutely all of the work is done by my hands alone.
In many handmade knife endeavors, when a maker's popularity and the interest in his work grows, the maker reaches a decision point. This is the stage where the maker has to decide to remain a singular artist and craftsman or hire help and labor in the shop, have some of his components created by outside entities, and become a manufacturer dealing in volume. Simply put, he can move his experience and labor to manufacturing, or continue to grow and excel as a creative artist. I've chosen to continue the creative search for excellence in custom and handmade knives, and chosen not to go the route of mass production and manufacturing. This means that the pieces I create have and will continue to increase in value, and the volume of projects, orders, and delivery times also continue to increase.
Though I may call my workspace and place of business a shop, make no mistake, it is named Enchanted Spirits Studio and is a living, growing art studio where some of the finest knives and custom knife-related art projects in the world are made. Since knives occupy a unique space in the human world, functioning as working tools, weapons, and art, the studio, likewise, is designed to create these various knives.
As most fine art studios and accomplished craftsmen know, there is a time when we wish to share or pass on our skills, training, and knowledge with others. How each artist does this is his own decision. When I started on this path, I realized that the best way I could do this is share, train, and build knives together with several dedicated family members who have made their own sacrifices in order to learn this art and trade. As more and more work and inquiries flowed into the studio every week, I knew that I could not keep up, and new orders for my sole authorship knives would continue to grow, all the while pushing delivery times farther and farther back, as I am only one man with one pair of hands. In order for knives to be delivered to those who wanted a shorter wait, but were not asking for the more elaborate, embellished, and complicated knife works, we developed the collaborative works program in the studio.
The collaborative works program in Enchanted Spirits Studio is with James Beauchamp, Rusty Russom and myself. Each of these new makers is striving to make a variety of knives, but may specialize in certain types. They work with me, or I'll say I work with them, and we build knives together. I have an active and hands-on training program that not only teaches them the craft of making, but also the history, art, business, service, and trade aspect of professional knife making.
There is so much more to a knife maker's life than the handwork most people know about that I've been writing a book on the subject. Few people have an idea how involved this is, and it is an extremely challenging and rewarding field. There is the production aspect, of course, but there is also the research and development, the accounting and finance, the advertising and sales, and the maintenance and repair. There are many more details that I'll identify in the book.
As time and training with James and Rusty progresses, I accept that I will perform fewer and fewer steps in the collaborative knives, and James and Rusty will do more and more independently, while interjecting and growing their own artistic styles and attributes until they, too, are completely independent knife makers. A simple way to understand this is that we are three professionals working in the studio, making knives individually or together. Each project is different, and the knife itself can be identified with the artists.
Please note that because of a high backlog of orders, James has temporarily suspended taking new orders. I will post when his new orders will continue. This has no effect on your knife if you have one ordered, and please note that Rusty Russom is currently working full time in Enchanted Spirits Studio with me on current and new collaborative knives in all styles, types, and ranges. Thanks for the great interest, and please bear with us as the studio evolves and grows!
Another neat thing is that several of my grandsons have now taken an interest in developing and making their own knives. Look for more of this in the future, these are bright, fresh, and hard working guys who love knives! James' son, Etienne is producing his first knives and will soon offer them for sale on the site. He is an outstanding young man and we're very proud of him.
As I detailed above, a sole authorship knife has a singular maker's mark on it. A collaborative knife has two makers marks on it. The current collaborative knives that are made by James Beauchamp and will have his name and my maker's mark below it at the same area of the blade. The same can be said of Rusty Russom's collaborative knives. These maker's marks are typically on the obverse side of the knife blade, in the grind, near the grind termination. Below are some examples.
In knives, as with many items that are made by man, the argument of quality verses quantity comes up. This is a serious concern, because there simply is no way to mass produce items of the highest quality in great quantities. Here at Enchanted Spirits Studio, my creed has always been that the knife client deserves the highest quality that his project can afford. Not all clients can afford a ten-thousand dollar knife sculpture, and many of our clients are not looking for that kind of knife. A soldier or military professional in combat simply wants the best knife he can get for his service and duty, and that is the type of knife we make. A chef may want the best knife for his particular and individual needs, and we are here for him, to make the best knife for the money he is willing to invest. In keeping with this creed, we do not mass produce anything, but simply make the very best.
Many factories may claim to make the best, and it's important to note that they never distinguish individual characteristics of why they think their knives are the best, only using innuendo, generalities, and non-specific opinions about why they believe this to be true. Unfortunately, many knife makers also use these weak arguments to sell their knives. Here at Enchanted Spirits Studio, I have taken it upon myself to clearly, cleanly identify the particular shortcomings and advantages, in highly detailed specifics, of what I believe distinguishes a fine knife from a simply fair knife or a poor knife. If you take the time to read some of these pages, you'll know more than most other people and even more than many knife makers about what constitutes a fine knife and why our knives are worth your money. There is a reason that my Blades page, my Tactical and Combat Knives page, my Sheaths page, and my Custom Knife Patterns page get hundreds of thousands of hits and visitors every month, year after year. The truth is in the details.
Simply put, we are committed to make the very best knives, weapons, tools, accessories, and related components and services.
The collaborative programs will deliver a knife in months instead of years. This is their main advantage. The knives are built to the same high quality and standards as if my own hands have created them, and I perform several critical steps and insure that the quality remains the highest. After all, it is my name that goes on the blade, too!
People regularly asked if they can learn, train, or study knife making with me. While I appreciate their interest, this is not something that I do, reserving my collaborative efforts and instruction to my family members. That way, if they don't perform as expected, I'll cook their children in a pot and eat them!
Joking aside, I feel honored that these fine men are willing to study, sacrifice, and grow in their efforts to create fine knives. I am humbled by their interest and contribution.
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|Collaborative Knives||Knife Handles: Gemstone|
|James Beauchamp Collaboratives||Gemstone Alphabetic List|
|Etienne Beauchamp Collaboratives||Knife Handles: Woods|
|Rusty Russom Collaboratives||Knife Handles: Horn, Bone, Ivory|
|My Family||Knife Handles: Manmade Materials|
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|My Knifemaking History||Knife Embellishment|
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|Letters and Emails||How to Care for Custom Knives|
|Funny Letters and Emails, Pg. 1||Knife Making Instruction|
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|Funny Letters and Emails, Pg. 4|