The wife and I have been going to Knife shows to view hand-made, custom, and Art Knives for about 22 years. The first one we became aware of, that we could afford the time and money to attend, was in Detroit. The trip to that show was a real adventure, perhaps the basis for a future post. Detroit is about a four hour drive.
Soon after, we found that there were knife shows in Toronto, only an hour away. Actually, back then, there were three shows a year, hosted by the Canadian Knife Collectors Association. Shows organized by collectors, embarrassing! Soon the Canadian makers organized themselves into a guild and took over the shows. They’re down to two shows now, with talk of dropping the fall one.
Makers came in from the Yukon, B.C., the prairies, Quebec, the Maritimes, and the northern U.S. Then, 9/11 happened. Overnight, makers were not allowed to carry knives onto airplanes. A maker flying from Hawaii to L.A. lost $30,000 worth of knifes from cargo. Soon shows shrank, because they were limited to makers who lived close enough to drive. The Detroit show went from 200 exhibitors, to 50. The Toronto show has gone from 50, to about 20. Still, we go!
This year there were four makers from Montreal and area, a 7 hour drive. Their French business cards list them as joalliers – jewelers. Their knives were elegant, gem-adorned, gold-inlaid pieces of art.
The most recent Toronto show was held March 9 and 10. With the wife’s deteriorating mobility and increased breathing problems, she often stays at home. Bright and early Saturday morning, (It was early, but I was none too bright, with three hours sleep. The son had been up since 6 PM Fri.) I took the son, the grandson and his fiancée, and we went to Toronto.
I got to socialize with makers I’ve known for years. We discussed those who have passed on, or had to leave the business, and some of the new, up-and-comers who are taking their places. We all looked at knifes and swords, and supplies, and non-knife stuff that cutlers (A name, meaning knife-maker.) make.
The five-dollar work-knife the grandson bought last October has been extensively used, causing wear to the lock, which creates a safety hazard. He paid $60 to buy a much more reliable replacement, prettier too! The son also paid $60 to get a different-style lock-back, to replace the twenty-some year old Swiss Army Knife he carries.
Last year, and the year before, he paid $300 for art-engraved, solid titanium hook-type belt-buckles, which he displays with his utility/fighter knife, and the Katana sword he won last year. The door prize this year was a pattern-welded Damascus-steel knife with a strip of Canadian Maple-Leaf flags down its blade.
One maker had a matching brother/sister pair of knives. A gentle S-shape, the blade down, and the carved coca bola-wood handle up, with a matching carved wooden sheath. The his-knife a little larger, but each at $300. The grandson and the fiancée each wanted to buy one. She had cash in her wallet, but the work-knife purchase had left him short. He went up to the ATM in the lobby, but it was out of order. The desk-clerk sent him to the building across the street, where he got cash at another ATM. Just as he re-entered the room, another guy picked up “his” knife, and bought it for a friend.
The grandson learned to “reserve” a knife, even put a deposit on it. Fortunately, the maker is a relatively new displayer, and lives here in Kitchener. It would take about a year to work it into his schedule, and it wouldn’t be exactly the same, but if the grandson asks, he’ll make another, to complete the pair.
The son bought a shooting star, literally. One of our friend/makers had a small billet of steel made from a piece of meteorite. Only able to get a couple of knives from the piece, he cut and polished a few shapes from the scrap, including a thumbnail-sized, star-shaped pendant, on a rawhide thong. He paid $60 for that also. A piece of a star doesn’t come cheap. He also looked at a beautiful titanium art-knife folder, engraved with skulls and crosses, like one of the buckles he bought from the same maker. Boy, I wish I lived at home with my parents, and could afford pretty stuff. Well, it does all live at my house, so I can gaze and fondle it.
After the show, we went down the street to a sub shop for lunch. On a busy street, by the airport, there is no sidewalk, just a paved shoulder up to a tiny parking lot. While we sat there, a black Lincoln stretch-limo pulled up and stopped. Five minutes later, a black Cadillac pulled in behind. A questionable-looking driver got out and walked up, carrying a briefcase. The rear window rolled down, the briefcase was handed in, a different briefcase was passed out, and they rolled away in opposite directions. Another “What The Hell Did I Just See?” That wasn’t a drug, or weapons, or industrial espionage deal??! Nah, the driver just took his wife’s briefcase this morning, with the wrong lunch. Yeah, that’s it.
I finally nudged the son into applying for his passport. The wife cut his hair and trimmed his beard. Now he only looks like the second-in-command to an Arab terrorist. He got the requisite photos taken, had his Mom fill in the last of the application form, and I drove him down to the passport office on Thursday. I’ve been there before, and know where to park.
The clerk told him that they were scheduling to mail out passports, applied for that day, on March 21. There’s the spring knife show in Detroit, coming up on April 26/27. Unless the bureaucracy really fouls things up, he’s taking the Friday off work, and the two of us will go. If something does get screwed up, the wife says she’ll be happy to go again.
Even if nobody gets propositioned this time, there should be enough of interest for another post. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.