This post is the first in a series of profiles of puukkoseppä. Federico Buldrini has started this project by contacting several puukkoseppä to ask if they’d be willing to submit a short biography, some thoughts on knife making and Finnish culture and some photos. He has received some very interesting replies and I’d like to present the first one of Ilkka Seikku here on Federico’s behalf. He has several more profiles completed and I’ll be presenting them here over the next several weeks. My thanks to Federico, Ilkka and to all the puukkoseppä who have taken the time to respond! Visit Ilkka’s website to see more of his work: http://www.tuluskivi.suntuubi.com/ and check out his blog also: http://rautasarvi.blogspot.fi/2013/11/blog-post.html
“My great interest about old Finnish culture is surely one of the reasons that made me interested in blacksmithying. Also the fact that I´ve always made all kind of handicrafts has guided me at this point where I make my living as a blacksmith.
I don´t know if there is some distant forefather who has been blacksmith… I think every Finnish person has some distant forefather who has been a blacksmith. Both of my grandfathers have forged their everyday tools, but they were not professionals. Simple puukkos and other tools. That has been very common in the Finnish countryside and it´s not rare even today. So, there has not been any certain blacksmith tradition in my family, but I have kids, so…
I think I seriously started to think of blacksmithing as a real job in 1998 and that´s about the time when I started to really understand something about blacksmithing. In 2000 I made some of my living making puukkos, knives and tools and in 2002 I started my own business. Some hobby forging a lot earlier, of course.
My first real blacksmithing teacher was masterblacksmith Hannu Antila, who is surely one of the best blacksmiths in Finland. So, not just puukko blades. Also Martti Malinen, famous axesmith, is a name I want to say in this factual connection. But as a stubborn Finnish hillbilly, I have to make my own mistakes and learn all by myself. So I don´t take any instruction as a one-and-only full truth, no matter if those instructions come from some mastersmith or even Master of The Universe… I also don´t think that this is the world´s most important and dead serious thing. My main sources of inspiration obviously come from traditional Finnish culture. Not by copying, but by living.
In the countryside in Finland, most of the blacksmithing tradition is based on farming (scythes, sicles etc), forestry (axes, log grapples, etc) and hunting (traps, knives etc.).There is no particular puukko named by Sammaljoki or Sastamala. But I think this whole thing with puukkos named after certain areas is some new aged idea. Of course there has been some similarities with puukkos made in Sammaljoki in old times, because same blacksmiths have made those. At the moment there is one fulltime blacksmith in Sammaljoki, guess who! So my puukkos are all “Sammaljoki puukkos”, if I want to call those in that name.
Beside blacksmithying I’ve made my living also from antler and horn works, wood works, leather works, traditional bows, taxidermy and drawing. Finally, I think there is no any mission given to a man like me. But I surely try to inspire people to the traditional crafts and, through that, maybe getting more understanding from the nature and “good old times”. I don´t like the idea about every man should do exactly the same things and there is some master of the masters who says how to make things. Copying is same as lying.”
“Prowlers/prowlerantler – Even though I make a lot of traditional puukkos, like simple maasepänpuukkos and other traditional works, at the moment my bestseller is no doubt the BushProwler. I’m very pleased about the feedback it got from users all around the world.”
“Tradleuku – Traditional leuku is of course one of my regular works.”
“Bowyersknife (archer’s knife)- I have a huge need to make all kind of carvings and other decorations. It´s something I have born with, I think. I normally try to make very simple knives and puukkos without a lot of decorations, but sometimes there just appears some carvings at the kniveshandles too.”
“Puukko blade forged out of a ball bearing from a bus.”
“I use knives and puukkos everyday. I don´t make some special tests with my knives, but I test them in real use. Butchering, skinning, cutting meat, carving wood, whittling, batoning, etc. Just normal everyday things.”
“Me at work.”