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Old 11-03-2003, 12:46 PM
SharpByCoop's Avatar
SharpByCoop SharpByCoop is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Northeast USA
Posts: 3,785
AKI Experience... (Long)

AKI -- The Art Knife Invitational.

It has been the most exhilarating and exhausting weekend of my knife-involved career. I reached my limit in patience and fatigue more than once. I was working as the show photographer from 3:00pm on friday untill 9:45am on Saturday, with a short 4-hour sleep crammed-in. I have an unbelievable amount of work that still remains unfinished. It will all get done in time. I have met hundreds of new and familiar faces--some of them the most notable in the industry. Every last one of them was a pleasure. Like the feeling of recovery after a REALLY hard workout, I'm still in awe of what just went on....

I could not have done all I did without the assistance of a member: RB Slaughter, who volunteered his time with me all day Friday and early Saturday to help get it all written up and uploaded. Then he, too, was off to the show as an attendee. I owe him big time!!!

Let me tell you about it with some numbers:

25 of the very best knifemakers in the world all together in a single 1/2 day show.
Lowest price (I saw) on a sold knife: $800 for a SR Johnson pearl utility
Highest price paid: $15,101.01 (top bidder) for a Sharktooth folder by Michael Walker
Highest set price for a knife: $16,500.00 for a California Dagger by Buster Warenski
Average prices: $2000-$5000 for most work.
Five brand new Moran knives (all sold to first draw) Four @ $6000 and 2 @ $6500
Six Loveless knives: All priced at $3450.00 All gone...
95% of work brought in was sold.
860 pictures snapped of 52 knives.
110 pounds of related gear
One VERY worthy assistant: Rich Slaughter
One VERY generous knifemaker who shared his room: Tim Herman

Held in the Bayside room at the San Diego Marriot, this was NOT an ordinary knife show. The crowd there was upscale--VERY upscale. Oh, that's not to say regular folks weren't in attendance. But the prices and the quality that these knives and makers attract keep the invited guests free of tire kickers and Whistling Gophers. (WG: A person who looks at the price of a knife and then raises his head like a coyote and goes "WHOOOEEE! Who would 'go fer' that?!?" ) I felt very honored to have been included--even though my presence was a sort of staff position.

This was a sportjacket and dress crowd all the way. Well, except for me and a couple others...

Random observations:

Rewards: I got to OWN 52 knives for a short while. I held the Warenski 'King Tut' dagger and took extra photo's of it for Dr. David Darom's upcoming book on fixed blades.

Pierre Reverdie's knives never made it to the show from France. He displayed hand-drawn pictures. Deitmar Kressler shared a similar fate; his knives arrived to the show 1/2 hour before the closing of 'offers to purchase'. He didn't fare too well because of the late exposure and previous picks.

H.H. Frank's work is simply incredible. And I have almost nothing to show.

There was a catered dinner on Saturday evening, which was delicious and we were very entertained by Shelly Berman--a knife collector and comedian, who's shtick is very dry and clever. First he told some jokes and warmed us up, then he went through the list of makers and roasted them fairly one-by-one (Example: "Now how in the WORLD can you trust a man who signs his checks 'John Smith'?? C.Gray Taylor--he is the most well-spoken, well-dressed, polite HILLBILLY I have ever met!) He did a good job and was a good friend of Custom knives.

There is something even more beautiful than Buster and Julie Warenski's knives: Their daughter, Tarin, should be a supermodel! (No pics--sorry) Just as polite and easygoing as Buster and Julie, too. What a family!

Story: I was introduced to Bob Loveless by Dave Nittinger, and Bob was very cordial and casual. He's just as described--no extra formality from him. He punctuates his remarks with four-letter words and speaks clear on his thoughts. He is an icon who was well-respected throughout the weekend. Later that evening I was seated at a table next to his charming wife Yoshi, and she and I had a nice conversation. Bob pretty much spat out observations and support throughout the whole evening as Shelly Berman (the comedian/collector) roasted every maker one-by-one. He wasn't bashful and he and Shelly were quite the duet! All had a great dinner that evening. BTW--Bob remembered my name right off the bat from our introduction earlier.
I sat down in the hotel restaurant for breakfast on Sunday morning. I was alone and off a few tables was Bob and Phil Lobred also sitting alone on a large table. I thought about joining them or would I be intrusive, but decided, yup, this opportunity doesn't came around very often. So I got up and asked if it would be OK to sit with them. "Sure, Coop, have a seat!" say's Bob. So we talk of a number of things--and he echoed the often-remarked visage of a maker HAVING to have integrity with his clients or else his work was simply "not worth a rat's ass!" We all have talked about this, and he also was well-aware.

I asked him what he carried as an EDC. He pulls out a VERY nice small two bladed slipjoint which had thin red jigged bone scales. I open it and look it over, and he tells me it's by Gene Shadley, and he's had it about 6-7 years now. He also pulls out one of his very nice Lone-Wolf folders of his name and said he also like this because it's a "#### good knife made by the Italians".

The waitress brings the bill, which Bob grabs, and I asked guiltily; was I stuck in there? "Nope, you came too late!" says Bob. "Good" says I. I wasn't trying to get in there anyway. We said our see-ya-later's and I finished my breakfast and coffee alone. When done I signal the waitress for the bill. She tells me Mr. Loveless asked for my tab as well.

Imagine that. Bob Loveless remembers me by name and bought me breakfast that morning. Sure he's just an average Joe. But then again, he's not.

Dr. Darom and I wanted to get a group shot of the makers in attendance for his upcoming book. He sent out a call and Phil Lobred got everyone out on the veranda. Next thing we know, ALL 25 makers came out to play, and they are included in one giant shot which I took. This is quite possibly one of the most impressive shots I took the entire weekend. We ALL know the knives are nothing without the men and women behind them. And who knows who will be around in two more years for an alumni shot....

Tim Herman offers me to bunk with him during the weekend, and we have many a good-guy talk. Tim is a pleasure to be with and we got along famously! He sold all his six knives to the first ticketholders. He was well-appreciated, as there was 27 tickets in one of his bins for a particular knife. His knives define cleanliness and artistry, believe it.

I will try to get some pics resized and posted for you soon. I know this is just a teaser, but I have more pressing things I need to take care of, right now. Bear with me. Enjoy anyway!


Jim Cooper - Capturing the Artistry and Significance of Handmade Knives

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Old 11-03-2003, 01:07 PM
Jerry Oksman's Avatar
Jerry Oksman Jerry Oksman is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Bronxville, NY
Posts: 432
Hi Coop,

thanks for posting this show review / commentary. I wish I could have been there. It sounds like you had an amazing if exhausting time :LOL

Still wondering if you are going to make the NY show this weekend after all you went through.

My biggest question will have to be, how was the trip with all the fires in California?

Jerry Oksman

~ Cogito Cogito Ergo Cogito Sum ~
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Old 11-03-2003, 01:30 PM
Gabe Newell Gabe Newell is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 461

It was great to meet you face to face. You were definitely running on adrenaline by Saturday noon.

I ended up getting mostly skunked, except for the Appletons' Annabelle, which was my favorite knife there, so it worked out OK.

I'll have to get any photos you took of that knife.

There were a couple of knives from makers that I am familiar with that stuck out, like the "Classic Folding Knife" that Wolfgang Loerchner brought, but it was really cool to see a maker I have completely overlooked, C. Gray Taylor, have six really outstanding knives.

Overhearing Ray Appleton and Bob Loveless try to out "ole salty-dog" each other was worth the price of admission by itself.

Gabe Newell
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Old 11-04-2003, 12:15 AM
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hammerdownnow hammerdownnow is offline
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Thanks Coop. Great read!

"Many are chosen, but few are Pict"
"The doer alone, learneth" NT Neo-Devo
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Old 11-05-2003, 12:40 AM
Gabe Newell Gabe Newell is offline
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Location: Seattle, WA
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I hope at some point we'll get to see all of Coop's photos from the show in one place. In the meantime, here's the photo he took of the Appleton folder - Annabelle.

Gabe Newell
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Old 11-05-2003, 10:09 PM
severtecher severtecher is offline
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Thanks for the latest review Coop. I have been waiting for your input.Can't wait for some pics.
Gabe, it looks like a classy birthday present for you. Happy Belated.
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Old 11-12-2003, 03:33 PM
whv whv is offline
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nice review, jim. glad to hear you had a good time (on top of the good work) and that the big names can be just as down-to-earth as those of us here.
oh, and thanx for posting the pic, gabe. that is a lovely score - probably my favorite of the series, so far.

things get better with age ... i'm approaching magnificent
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