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hmn.. Competition?


RainsFire

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I was just thinking, It would be kinda cool to format some sort of freelance knife making competition.. There would have to be set limitations to make judging possible, and to make it possible for more novice knifesmiths (like myself) to compete on the same level as the resident master bladesmiths.
or maybe have different catagories and levels of competition to enter in..
or I dunno, I suppose its up to the forum, but I would certainly like to participate in something small scale like this.
we certainly have enough interested people on this forum.
we could have groupings for beginners, mediocre, and advanced.. but all with the same blade design restrictions..
example restrictions: size, steel type, possibly an offered knife design to make our own, temper line no/yes.. whatever..
I think size would probably be the biggest one.. the rest are somewhat petty..

anyway, I cant think super clearly right now so I'm probably missing something major here, but I would really like to see this happen.. so ya, Glenn, is it possible?
Knife smiths would you be into entering?
Please post some suggestions.. its getting really late and im starting to repeat myself..so ya.

-Kenon

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RainsFire,

There is nothing wrong with friendly competition and it makes a person dig a little deeper when pride is on the line. I think your idea has a lot of merit, but the execution might be difficult in this virtual forum. Who and how would the blades be judged? Also, what would the time-line for an entry be? If I had to submit a blade for testing would I get it back or would it be tested to destruction? These are just a few of the concerns I would have holding an online contest. Not that I would mind giving it a try.

Regards,

Chad

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Just some random thoughts for the lads...

If you are really interested in critical analysis of your own work, finish some pieces, take some good pics, post 'em, and invite the more experienced guys to truly critique them.

Most of the folks on board here are polite to a fault. Even if a guy's work looks like a clothes hanger that was run over by a lawn mower, most will find something good to say... or say nothing at all. That's the way polite folks treat each other. Plus, it is encouraging to the young guys.

Now, if you feel like your hide is tough enough to take some real criticism, then ask for it. When you receive it, welcome it. If you are easily offended, don't put yourself out there.

I have been really amazed by just kinda lurking in the background and watching our own Sam (Apprentice Man) submit himself to this very process. He's not been shy about putting his work out there for critique. He's received a lot of suggestion and commentary. Now, look at the work he has done recently as compared to a year ago. You'll see that there is something to this "watch, listen, and learn" business. He's crankin' out some killer stuff lately.

I ain't saying that it always feels good to work hard on a piece, only to have somebody say "well... you shoulda' done this". But still, it will cause you to do better the next time.

My $.02

Don

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When Don used the word "critique", I had to smile.
At shows, I'm often asked by budding Bladesmiths to "evaluate" their knives. My response is usually.."Do you want me to LOOK at your knives, or do you want me to CRITIQUE them?" When "looking" at someones' knives, I try to be as kind as possible, while still pointing out areas that might need improvement. If I'm asked to "critique", then I evaluate the knives as if I were judging them for the Journeyman or Mastersmith test(s), as the situation dictates. I always make sure I tell the individual this, so they don't think I'm railing on them.

Most of the ABS Mastersmiths will make this distinction when evaluating knives. Some folks simply cannot emotionally handle having their work "critiqued". It is not that any of us wants to hurt someone's feelings, much the contrary. Let's say that someone is planning on testing for their JS or MS rating....If I did not give a 100% honest evaluation of their knives, then I would be doing them a disservice. If I were to stroke their ego and tell them everything was great, when it might not be, then they would take off for Atlanta (the Blade Show where all JS and MS testing takes place) with their knives thinking everything is good to go. Should they fail, then because of what I did, they have just wasted a wad of money and time, only to be told "See you next year." And will probably come looking for me with a ball bat!!

One of the reasons the ABS highly encourages JS and MS applicants to have their knives evaluated by as many Mastersmiths as possible, PRIOR to submitting the knives for judging, is to hopefully avoid a wasted trip for someone. People will be people, and personalities do differ. Someone who really knows better MIGHT just tell you that your knives are great, simply to avoid hurting your feelings, hence the reason to have your work reviewed by as many Mastersmiths as possible.
Neither the JS or MS tests are easy. Each requires a lot of work and effort on the part of the applicant. Getting your knives ready and having them evaluated PRIOR to going to Atlanta is just good sense. Many times when I have been a Judge, I have asked individuals who have failed.. "How many Mastersmiths reviewed your work?" Almost without fail, everyone of them gave me a dumbfounded look and said.. "None."
Just trying to make the point that there is more to it than just making 5 knives and going to Atlanta...at least if you want to be successful.

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Perhaps then there should be an area where people who want to have their work critiqued can post pics. When I post my pics I wish to have my work critiqued, not simply looked at because if I need the ego boost I would just show my work to my mom - she loves ALL the junk I make. When I posted my first forged blade, I did it with some trepidation as I was not sure how it would be received. All the feedback was positive and I believe that it is as important to point out what a person is doing right as well as wrong, but errors do need to be brought to light or they may never get corrected. However, it would be comforting to know that the people who are making the corrections are qualified to do so. In saying this, would there be any individuals who would be willing to shoulder the task of critiquing work that people specifically submit for that purpose?

Chad

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That just never seems to work out without hurt feelings, and it is just as wroong to say how nice something is when it is not. And overall it just has to take into consideration where the maker is in his or her experience. I had a menotr years back the when he looked at my work he would never say anyting good or bad,,,just stop by the house when you can...That meant he saw something and was about to show me how to correct it. I always shoed up at his place the next day. And each time I was great. If anyone wants to send me a e mail with pictures and want thoughts on the piece I will . Just remember this house rule: If you want someone to say something nice let your mama look at it" (stolen from a friend)
If you want thoughts on a piece I will give you honest thoughts from how I see things. If I can I will inclued ideas on how it may be improved.,That is if I can figure out how to improve it, I would ask that you send me details what is the steel? forged or ground to shape, how it was heat treated and what with? Give me an idea of what tools you have in the shop, Thanks Rich

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Let me add some rules,,I am not going to appraise or give monetary values for your knives. I will only look at knives that you made..Not ones you had someone make for you or that you purchased or traded for. Simply an offer that if you would like thoughts on your knife that you made and want my opinion send me an e mail with a picture that is clear enough that I can see the piece. No matter what I say it would also help if you had others look at your work also. some one that can touch and feel it would be best.

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Fair enough Rich. I can and will abide by those simple house rules. The next blade that I forge I will post pictures, material specs, heat treatment process, and a humble request that my peers "critique" my work as their time permits.
I thank you and anyone else who is kind enough to provide junior smiths with their hard earned experience, and honest opinion. Who could really ask or expect anymore?

Peace. Out.

Chad

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Something to keep in mind when asking for critiques on the internet...... Photos are only 2 dimensional. About the only things that can be accurately judged from a photo are the overall design, and the "flow". Fit and finish are very difficult to inspect from a photo, and are much more accurate when accomplished in person. Another aspect that is critically important is the "feel" and balance, both of which are impossible to judge unless you are holding the piece in your hand.

If you really want to understand how your work is progressing, it is imperative that you attend some major knife shows and closely examine the knives present. Of course there will be all levels of work present, but the major shows will be those where the best makers display their wares, and those are the ones you should be looking at. Another venue to consider are the various Bladesmithing Hammer-ins that occur around the country. A weekend spent at a Hammer-in, surrounded by other Bladesmiths, will shave years off your learning curve.
Finally, if your really serious about your knives, consider taking formal instruction from an established Maker. Generally it will cost you to do this, but the knowledge you receive will be priceless. Two individuals I can give as examples are Jon Christensen, and Dana Hackney. Jon came to me several years ago for a Basic Bladesmithing class. Since that time we have become the best of friends, and Jon has since achieved both his ABS Journeyman and Mastersmith ratings, winning both the Hasting Award (award for best knife submitted by a JS applicant) and the BR Hughes Award (award for best knife submitted by an MS applicant).
Dana came to me for a basic Bladesmithing class, and then later for a Handles/guards class. Recently he won the award for Best New Maker at Blade Show West in Sept 07.
It wasn't just my instruction that got these two were they are. I only showed them the tools. It took a great deal of drive, determination, and work on their parts. The point is that they did everything they could to improve, and have achieved a great deal in a short time. Things like this are what we refer to as "paying your dues".
Looking back over my career as a Bladesmith, I would estimate that I have spend $15,000+ attending Hammer Ins, and both formal and informal training.....every penny was money well spent. Exposing yourself to other Makers not only spawns new ideas, but more importantly, boosts your drive and determination.

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I did some preliminary work on adding a section and can see where the critiques could result in hurt feelings. The section has been put on hold for the present.

After spending hours on a project, then hearing someone nit-pick it to death is a tough pill to swallow. Excuses are usually not accepted, because if you knew there was a problem, you should have changed it before it was presented. To have someone point that out to you during a critique can be a devastating blow to their ego, or a valuable learning experience. You can not predict which will occur, too many variables are involved.

The critique could be best on a one-to-one basis off line, where it would then be more of a mentor situation.

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Ed, Thank you, just getting into bladesmithing, and watched your first 2 DVD's last night (mosaic waiting untill the weekend) - , clear, concise and filled me with confidence. Squished a billet tonight with ' its smoking, thats a good sign' in my ears! )

Related to this thread (and Ed, you may wish to have a looksy over there, some talented bladesmiths and nice helpful people - a few yanks, JD smith, Mike Blue etc post over there) at britishblades.com there is a couple of 'KITH's running - (which seem to have gone international), a minature KITH 2" sub blade, and a 'newby' kith (dont have to forge it, but have to have a major input to the knife) - now nothing will make you raise your game than having someone else own it !

To any other newby bladesmiths - CHECK OUT Ed's DVD's. Im very glad I did.

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