Saturday, 3 November 2012

Sharp As Knives

Making Knives


While driving through through the surrounding countryside a few years ago we saw a sign to The Blackbird Valley Forge.  Never one to miss a craft opportunity we drove along a rickety lane until we reached a pair of tumbledown sheds - all apparently made from recycled or 'found' objects (the way in NZ). The outside of these imposing 'sheds' were covered in knives - carving knives,  kitchen knives, craft knives,  hunting knives, bush knives, fishing knives, etc.,  in every shape and size.

The Forge
Via Google

Here we found the craftsman knife maker, Ross Johnston, whose once hobby has turned into a good living. Ross makes his original and beautiful knives using any recyclable material he can find - old engine parts, filing cabinets, old saws and car parts. No two knives are ever the same and each is a personal work of art. The handles are all mostly made of native NZ woods found on his own land - a perfect eco tool.

The knives are sold from his Home Gallery and also from a Saturday Market held in Nelson. Most people in this rural community own one of his unique treasures, and many are commisions made for a particular person, in a certain style and material.

This year I found Ross Johnston selling his knives at the local craftsman's Saturday Market where people from the surrounding countryside come to sell their produce and handmade wares. In the back of his van, and on a rickety old tressle table I found some lovely handmade steel and wood knives.

Ross Johnston master craftsman - knife maker

A selection of his bushmen knives

Kitchen/paring knife

Gift for Mr Whizz Kid

I particularly liked this knife.  All knives are made from recycled and found objects and this beautiful piece was made from an old Honda car seat. The handle comes from the horn of a dead deer, which he found on his property and the rivets are brass. I like this unusual bachground touch!

All knives are unique and although really rather expensive they should last a lifetime. This small blade costs $80 - around £40. The knife maker has been selling his hand made knives for over a quarter of a century in the South Island and very few homes will be without one of his individual pieces. He sure is a local character.

Isn't it a lovely work of art?


  1. Looks like another fantastic day in NZ. My other half has a thing about knives and so when we make it to NZ I will have to remember to go here.

  2. Crazy!!
    When you are in Welly, you must take a drive down to Happy Valley -

  3. Hi Anna,
    I just happened on your website - totally by accident. Ross is my neighbour. Very good writeup. I sent it to him. I will say thank you in his temporary absence.

    Blackbird valley road resident
    PS - I own the first "cutie" he made.

  4. Yes, that knife certainly is a lovely work of art. I'm sending this post to my husband. He loves knives and he and his father used to make them. I love the fact that all of the knives are made from recycled and found objects. That's so cool! Thanks for sharing, Annabelle! :-)

  5. some pretty cool knives! I got a very similar one in cuchilleria barcelona


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