I would like to feature the work of Roman Kislitsyn this month. I have seen his knives at Britishblades.com where he goes by the name Abyrvalg. Roman is a native of Apatity, Murmansk region, Russia who now lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He grew up around Sami design and has returned to it as the influence on his beautifuly crafted knives. He claims Igor Barutkin as one of his influences, they are from the same region and Igor was the first smith I profiled on this blog over three years ago:
I am very fond the Sami style knives, I like the richness of them, the tradition they evoke, the high level of skill they exhibit. They are a very basic tool meant to be used but a wonderful piece of art and design. If you would like to visit Roman’s blog go to http://girvas.blogspot.ca/ Thank you Roman!
“I made my first knife when I was 15 or 16 years old. It was a simple blade on the birch burls handle and a primitive leather sheath with wooden insert. Nothing fancy, but I loved it and I was incredibly proud of myself. This is how I fell in love with knife making. As a kid and teenager I always liked crafting things. I was fascinated by turning some rough piece of wood or other material into useful (and sometimes even nice looking) thing. In the middle school this interest brought me to the wood carving class where I learned how to use carving knives, chisels and gouges. So, knife making became my hobby, but after making a few knives I had to stop for a while as I went to university and then started my career. I came back to knife making only a few years ago.
Scandinavian knives were always my favorite of all types of knives. I especially like Finnish puukkos. But a few years ago when surfing on internet I came across images of Sami knives. It wasn’t new for me as I used to live in the Russian part of Sami land, but it was like a discovery of long forgotten thing. I was stunned with the carving patterns and I started to search for the information. Very quickly I found photos of knives made by Igor Barutkin, a knife maker from same region where I grew up.
It was like a sign for me. I realized that I’ve got to try even though I will never be as good… And I did try. This is when my wood carving lessons came in useful. But carving on antler appeared to be much more difficult than on wood, and I had to learn a new technique. By this time I was already living in Canada, so there were no carvers to learn from near me. I had to search information on internet and I came upon a few nice tutorials on youtube, britishblades.com, and Russian knife makers forum zadi.ru. This is how I learned basics of carving. And I still keep learning…
I like hiking, fishing, and hunting. As an outdoor person I use knives a lot and my knife making philosophy is that a knife has to be a reliable and useful tool, no matter how nice it looks. This is a second reason why I love Sami carving on knives (with first being a simple beauty of Sami carving) – the more carving, the better grip. All my knives are supposed to be used hard and I love to see them being used. The other thing is that I don’t like to use power tools for knife making. I only use hand drill and sometimes Dremel tool. My main tools are rasps, files, sand paper, and off course carving knife.
For now I don’t have a workshop where I could set a forge and grinder(s), so I have to buy blades from other people. But in a future I would love to learn hand forging, and may be get my own forge. I also feel I still have a lot to learn in terms of antler carving. And brass work. And leather work. See, this is why I love knife making – there is always something to learn…”