ABS Expo 2012 (Pic Heavy)
First off, I'm no photographer, and my wife's camera is like trying to man a space-station to me. She looks like she's playing God of War when she uses it, and my pictures just suck.
I drove down to San Antonio yesterday, and made it just in time. First thing I thought was that the whole place looked like this:
I mean, I'm from Texas, and was like "Wow that's a lot of Cowboy Hats and Handlebars".
The day started with testing, which is closed to the public(understandably). Many other makers were shuffling in and out of this room:
It's where they get those magazine-cover-style shots of their knives--every freaking maker had a giant binder of photos from these very guys.
I have to admit, I was a little starstruck most of the day. Waiting in line to get my ticket, I moved out of the way to make room for a bellhop and bumped into a plastic cart, I assumed was a janitor--but I turned around and it was Travis Wuertz carting a tw-90 around. Most of my day was like that--walking up to a table because you see a nice knife and admiring it for a second, and the guy says "You can pick it up", and you look up and it's Ed Caffrey or James Batson or Steve Culver or Tim Hancock or Kirk Rexroat.
The classes in the morning were MASSIVELY informative. I mean, I came to pick people's brains and learn, and they were GIVING it away. I attended the classes by Steve Culver on using software to design a knife(which is amazing), the DesRosiers on Forging, and Tim Hancock on Shop Talk. The Forging lesson was cool, he showed some amazing fully forged pieces like this one by Roger Sfreddo:
Yes, that rose is forged just like that.
When the doors opened, I did a once-over of the room and then went to Bill Burke's table. Duh.
Choil shot on the Mid-Tech Prototype:
Profile on the Mid-tech Prototype:
The grind on this was very good. I'm sure it would perform superbly.
Choil shot on the 210mm Dragon's Breath Damascus Gyuto:
It's well-balanced for being so lightweight.
There was a really nice Dagger he made for practice running up to his MS testing a while back, but somehow I only took a picture of the pattern before it sold.
The Yanagiba with copper fittings in the main pic is a Tamahagane core, wrought iron cladding. My pics of the blade were terrible and blurry. Here's the handle:
Bill made this for the ABS auction, it's a bottle opener with a dragon head. I thought it was cool as heck.
This is the one I can't stop thinking about. I fell in love with this knife. It's absurdly cool, and quintessentially Bill Burke.
It's everything I would want in a kitchen Utility, or EDC Hunter from Bill Burke. It's a Tamahagane clad, 52100 blade with a sheepshorn( I'm not good with handle materials) handle. The handle is nicely rounded, and the butt is squared edges, which I love. Integral bolster, scales that look just like they are blushing in the right spots, and a nice profile. The weight/density/balance was PERFECT. It felt just heavy enough that it would not fall out of your hand, and just light enough to not require you to "hold it". When you pick it up, you do not want to put it down. At least I didn't! I swear, if I had ANY less big plans with my money, I would have sold/neglected/ignored a great many things for this knife. Best knife I saw all day. Loved. It.
Other people showed up too, surprisingly.
I was mostly looking at the kitchen knives, which there were few. One guy, who shall remain nameless, was doing them very very very wrong. Seemed to be doing very well though, despite doing them very very wrong. To protect his identity, here is a shot that tells all you need to know about what Bill Burke has to be compared to at these types of shows. This is the tip, seen from the spine, of a ~7in Santoku:
Ed Caffrey had one:
Erik Fritz did a pretty good one, a little rough around the edges with unusual proportions, but leaps and lightyears beyond the norm of understanding, it seems.
And this guy was doing these really arty kitchen style knives that seem like a blacksmith went to Carter Cutlery, then a Rave, and had a dream that night and made what he saw.
Though the kitchen stuff was limited, the show was really mind-bogglingly amazing. Here's some of my highlights:
The guy from the blacksmith-rave knives above made this whole thing from one piece of unbroken damascus--blade, guard, handle, all of it. Very cool, and very heavy.
Mike Tyre made JS today, Congrats to him.
Another classy one from Erik Fritz
Whatever this thing is:
James Cook did this. It is super impressive. A flame pattern bowie with Arkansas on one side with an anvil and Texas on the other with the Alamo. He used Asphalt and something else to keep it from etching there. Very cool, and impressive.
Think kitchen knives get pricey? This thing sold RIGHT AFTER I took this picture.
I'm not a fan of these kinds of stamped-pattern things, but this one was really ornate. If you look at the terrible pic close enough and cross your eyes, you can see that the blade has dice repeating in it over and over, and a hand of cards perfectly clear towards the hilt.
These guys are all now Journeyman Smiths, and the older guy in the middle won "Best JS Knife". That's Mike Tyre on the left in the . He was super pumped, as he should be.
The auction was SHOCKINGLY cheap. Next time, I am bringing a small bankroll, and I will not feel bad about it one bit. A guy at my table, a collector, got a Damascus Subhilt Fighter with a Walnut Burl handle and a custom sheath, I believe from Bruce Fuller, for $250. I was floored, and kicking myself for not bringing more cash.
Fabulous day, beyond worth the trip. Bill was about as nice a guy as I could ever imagine him being, and ending the day by having some grub and a Jameson with Bill Burke, David Lisch, Nick Wheeler, and Mike Quesenberry(among others) is not something I could have made up before going. I am not sure I will be able to resist the Knifemaker's Guild Expo later this year, if it is an inkling as fun, informative, and addictive as this show was.
Great report Eamon! I hope you go to many more shows if it means threads like this. Sounds like a memorable day to say the least. I would have been hard pressed to resist of few of the items you photographed. You take nice pictures too, no need to apologize for their quality (or even better, their quantity).
How much did Bill's dragon bottle opener bring at auction? I want it!
And I love that little knife you fell in love with of his too.
Very cool. All of it.
It was a silent auction item, but between the silent auction, the open auction, and the tw90 donations, something like $10k was raised for the ABS, most of which goes to running the expo and a couple schools to teach people bladesmithing.
Great report, thanks for posting this, Eamon. The mammoth handle table looks like Charles Turnage's stock, I would love to go through that with a roll of notes in my pocket.
Thanks for sharing your day with us Eamon.
Were those handle materials from Pat Ankrom?
Very Cool!!! Did you get a chance to talk to Charlie Turnage? I just love his table.
That was some really good looking knives & handle material.