Making a Commision - Part 16 - Finale


All is made and photographed, all that remains is the last step – to publish.

Pictures with the measuring grid require the most work. Super precision is not necessary, but it looks better, when I correct the parallax deformation so that squares are at least approximately square. And because color is not important for these, I convert them into shades of gray.

For the blocks, I pick eight pictures that portray them from all angles and I crop them for an optimal ratio, in this case 1:1, with the block centered as much as possible. Only minimal color corrections are needed, mostly just slightly correcting levels is enough. Unfortunately, I had to air brush out a bit of a wall and/or table around the edges for some sets because I did not get the block position exactly during the photo shoot.

In the end, I picked two pictures of the knives themselves, one for each side. With these, I have a bit more work with both selection and color correction. As I said last time, capturing a shiny blade and a mat handle in one picture is not easy. And I am definitively not a professional photographer and I did not manage to completely refine the process yet. I am trying to get the picture on my monitor to look as much like the real thing as possible, although the final result will inevitably look differently depending on the device the end user views the website. In the end, I resized all pictures to a constant width of 1600 pixels, which is in my opinion a good compromise between displayed detail and file size.

Once all pictures are processed, I can send pictures of the ordered set to the customer and to put the rest on the web. Which I did on Sunday. This time I would like to say a few words to the whole process, its result, and to each set.

If you have read the whole series from the beginning, you now know that these eight sets took almost four months to make. In part because some steps (polishing, tumbling, stabilizing with resin) just take long and cannot be sped up. But mostly because each part is truly handmade. The machines are only a source of raw power, all skill is in the hands and that takes time.

That means the result is far from perfect because I am not perfect. But each piece is unique and irreproducible original. A hand-made knife contains the functionality of a tool and the aesthetics of an art piece in one.

And now about the individual sets:

Juniper wood – a material that is not very easy to get, I have a very limited supply. The contrast between sapwood and heartwood together with a plethora of small knots make it very interesting.

Apple wood, both healthy and spalted – medium hardwood that in my opinion deserves more attention than it gets. Healthy wood has beautiful reddish-brown color and fungi can give it very interesting coloring, from stripes to marble-like patterns.

Oak root – this particular piece is from a tree that died standing up and began to decompose. Even though oak wood is very rot and insect-resistant, this tree was standing in the forest long enough for nature to take its toll. Even so, the handle of the bigger knife is over 50% healthy wood. The rest is significantly damaged by fungi and insects, with a very interesting asymmetrical texture. Drying has of course killed any fungus and the epoxy resin stabilizes the wood against further decay. By the way, working with partially decomposed wood is nothing new. Sometimes the fungus discolors the wood, and this was used for colored inlays. Sometimes the fungus homogenizes the wood because it attacks the denser parts of the rings first, which is one of the possible reasons why Stradivari's violins are so exceptional

Apricot – beautiful wood. On this specific peace, I like that one side of the block is the live edge, where I did not cut or sand the wood at all, I just removed the bark and wire-brushed it. It has true character.

Lilac – from all the woods available to me, this is the densest and it shows. The block is noticeably heavier than on the other sets. In my opinion, it is also one of the most beautiful woods in my arsenal and even though it is extremely hard, it is easy to work with. The piece was almost not big enough, so both on the block and the handle of the smaller knife there is a bit of live edge. Together with the apricot, this is my favorite.

Willow head – full of small knots and twisted strands, which unfortunately does not show in this piece as much as I would like. A few interesting knots show on the lower side of the block and the wood has several colors – dark brown bark, light brown heartwood, creamy white sapwood, and grayish/whitish stripes. And because it is low-density wood, the knives are feather-light.

And that is all for now. I haven't decided about next week's theme yet but it won't be about these sets anymore.