Recently Ilkka Seikku, a pukkoseppä who has written posts for and been profiled on this blog sponsored a knife making competition on Facebook. It was quite a success, there were 24 knifemakers entered and the winner was decided by popular vote. The winner was Markku Vilppola, who being one of the seven puukkomastereri of Finland is an accomplished smith. Markku has agreed to be featured on Nordiska Knivar and I’d like to present a brief profile of him and some photos of his work. Markku works in many styles as you will see. His influences are many but his primary inspiration is drawn from work of the Vikings.
Markku Vilppola’s site http://www.mvforge.fi/
If you’d like to see the page for the knife competition go to Veitsi Kilpailu https://www.facebook.com/groups/389439611258044/
Thank you to Ilkka Seikku for sponsoring the contest and congratulations to the winner, Markku Vilppola!
“As a young boy I already used puukko for various tasks. My grandfather was a carpenter so I made various handcrafts under his tutoring. I made my first puukko in 1980-1981. A local newspaper called Kaleva had an advertisement where they were looking for craftsmen to work at the Oulu market square. So I wrote down my business plan and started my work.
I rented a shed that was on the waterfront at the market square and set up a business in 1997. I kept on working in Oulu until in the year 2004 I heard there was a workshop available in the city of Turku. So I moved with my family and set my workshop there. I kept my workshop in Kurala Kylämäki village up until the year 2011 when Turku Museum Centre decided to terminate my lease. For six months I looked for a new workshop but couldn’t find a proper place so I had to stop my business. Nowadays I only make a few knives a year, as a hobby, to keep up my skills.
I get most of my inspiration from old pieces, especially from the Viking times. This can probably be seen from my work, in my models and in my engravings. I consider myself to be mainly self-taught. At the start of my career I got guidance from Heino Tuomivaara. I honed my skills and knowledge in Mynämäki where I first got a bladesmiths degree in 2007 and after that a master bladesmiths degree in 2009. Also in the year 2014 I completed my degree as an artisan of ancient techniques.
I don’t have a specific favorite knife model, but it certainly isn’t the traditional straight Finnish puukko. Perhaps I made too much of those at some time… I like self-made damascus steel and k990 steel, which seems to be hard to come by these days. As far as regional puukko, here in Kiiminki region there was a knife model of Oskari Jauhiainen, and to my knowledge no-one is currently making the model. Back in the days about 20 years ago I made a few of those.
I don’t really have a philosophy. I like to try out different methods. I’m always looking for new ways and challenges so I can develop as a knifemaker. In recent years I have had a particular interest in bronze casting and engraving. This can probably be seen in my latest works. My other hobbies include hunting, fishing, primitive bows and various handcrafts.”
The Winning Knife
The entries were anonymous, so the maker’s marks were all covered.
Blade: 1700 forged layers k990/hardenite v
Blade lenght: 15,4cm
Blade width: 33mm
Blade thickness: 7mm
Overall lenght 27,5cm
Handle: Self casted bronze bolsters, maple.
Sheath: vegetable tanned ox hide
Some more of Markku’s work: