The subject of this post is Puronvarsi blades also known as YP Taonta (YP Forging) under the current smith, Antti Mäkinen. Antti is the grandson of Yrjö Puronvarsi who was the smith for many years. Not only have they established a reputation for excellent, beautiful blades but Antti has a selection of forged items including puukkos, axes, tools and decorative items. Please take a greater look at his skill at his site, http://yp-taonta.fi/
Thankyou once again to my friend Federico Buldrini for his many contributions and to Antti Mäkinen for the photos and information.
The Puronvarsi Story
By Federico Buldrini
What I’m about to tell you is the story of a Finnish family who has devoted many of its members to the art of forging.
In 1809 tsar Alexander I conquest took Finland from Sweden, in the hope of expanding the southern borders of Russia unto the Danube, and for the next fifty years the authorities of the Grand Duchy of Finland will work tirelessly to convince the Russian court of the loyalty of Finland.
Our story takes place in Härmä, a small town 24 km south of Kauhava, the historic “puukko capital” in western Finland.
We are in 1850 and it’s in this year that a man from the Puronvarsi family starts his own business as a blacksmith. The son, Matti, following in the footsteps of the parent, learns and passes the craft on to one of his descendants, Esa Puronvarsi.
In 1927, in an independent Finland, Yrjö Puronvarsi is born, who in his youth, along with his eight brothers, learns the art of forging from his father and uncle. He will be the only one to carry on the job, although there will be a period in which twenty family members will work as smiths at the same time.
Yrjö has three children, two boys and a girl. Neither of the sons was ever interested in the family job, while the daughter, Ulla, in the early ’80s, became the mother of Antti Mäkinen. Antti begins his smithing career in 2006.
We’re almost to the present day. Yrjö, the blacksmith who worked longer in the family, passed down to his nephew his knowledge to create his heir. Today, being 85 years old, he doesn’t forge anymore full-time, but still works six days a week, for the love of it and for exercise.
Some photos of YP Taonta:
What follows is a photo essay about the forging of normal sized puukko blade by Antti Mäkinen: