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.
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|
|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?