For a long time I thought I was the first one in my family to become a knife maker or any kind of professional crafter. Recently I have discovered that my great grand father on my mother’s side was blacksmith in Finland, so I do have maaseppä in my background and perhaps, that blood drew me in to this profession. However, I enjoy knife making very much and I am thinking about it 24-7.
I am interested in making things with my hands and have no fear of DIY so, I started as self-taught and that went on for quite a long time. I only started to become interested in getting a teacher when I realized that I wanted to do this professionally. It was also about the same time I was reaching the limit of being self-taught, especially in the area of traditional puukko making. Luckily, Mr. Taisto Kuortti was teaching traditional puukko making nearby, so I started to take his courses for his teaching.
Knife making tradition… I am not sure, but tradition of living with blades, YES.
Those of you who know me probably know that I am Japanese. Born in Japan and grew up in Japan. But not many know that I have a Finnish mother. I grew up hearing and seeing about Finland and its culture through her.
When I was child I was naturally surrounded by Japanese bladed tools and a culture where the blade has special value and role. Raised with how to respect the blades, not just because it is an important tool or could be dangerous, but because it is a tool that has soul.
Well… it does sounds cheesy and too dramatic to say so, but that was how the elderly generation around me treated the blades and that is how Japanese blade smiths are creating blades.
As for the Finnish traditional blades, my first fixed knife was Finnish puukko. I was interested how the knife was carried and used daily in Finnish old days. Hearing my Finnish grand father’s stories and so on, I remember fantasizing myself back there and carried around knife in my local woods to make use out of it even it actually did not needed.
My biggest source of inspiration is traditional Japanese and Finnish crafts.
When I get inspiration, I try not to just copy the look, it is important for me to learn its back ground as much as I can. The history, the culture, how it is done, the tools used etc. and often that background gives me a much more wide range of inspiration.
IWG model for example
It was inspired by Japanese indigenous Ainu peoples’ knife. The original one is called Makiri. When I saw it, I started to think how to bring it in to Finnish style knife. As I researched, I started to see the similarity in saame style knife in its look, use and culture.
From that IWG leuku was borne. Since then I have been making different versions of this knife and the latest one in the picture received first place in modern puukko at SM puukko kisa this year.
I am not much of fashion person, but think would be so cool to have a knife hanging that tells others who you are. In city life, people dress up, wearing all kinds of accessories to make oneself unique. Decorate oneself how you want to look. So I started to make knives because I wanted the knife that does the needed job in the woods and does look nice.
If you think of knife as just a tool, then perhaps a wild looking straight out of the forge blade with what ever works on the handle does the job. (do not take this wrong way, I am not criticizing that. in fact, I love those style and I do make them as well) But if you look back at the history of knives, the user/maker has been decorating the tool blades in some way and it had some meaning to the user.
The bottom line is a knife is a tool and it must do the job. But at a same time, it is not just a tool to get the job done. It also should have meaning, culture, history, character… and I think that makes a knife interesting. If/when I manage to create a knife that says that to some one, then I could say I have accomplished something.
It is difficult for me to separate hobbies and work because in a way, my hobby/passion got out of hand and it became my profession. Other than knife making, I am also a wilderness and nature guide, so again not completely a hobby but I love spending time in the woods. Taking nature photos has been of interest and a hobby since I was child. One of my new areas of interest is birds. It is such a easily seen wild life yet easily missed if not paying attention.
Here are some of my works. Many are puukko based models but I think there is always some taste of Japanese in it. My good friend named my style “Scandiasian”. I think the name describes it well of my work and myself.