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Tender Remnants Of Passage: A Knife

Jim Kelso

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I call this knife “Tender Remnants of Passage”. I chose to use feathers as symbols of passage, which in the case of birds, could be molting, conflict, flight or death. Feathers have such deep and subtle beauty. Jean and I have quite a collection and I always wonder, when finding a single feather, what the story was.

The last knife work I did was 13 years ago. Much of my earlier knife and other work had cast elements, but since about 1990 I've been moving toward direct carving/sculpting, which generally takes a lot more time to produce work in a given area.


As I was working on those skills and making other types of objects, I often wondered how to apply it to a knife. The direct work is very time consuming and I knew that the result would be very different than my earlier work, in terms of the newer focus on subtlety and refined detail. It has taken a long time to settle on a design incorporating the new kind of work.


As the overall design for this knife emerged it became clear that it would not be conventional. This actually pleased me as I wanted to quietly play with the tension around artistry/functionality. I hoped to do this suggestively and gracefully. It’s not a knife to be used often and coarsely, but perhaps by someone highly skilled, knowledgeable and restrained. I am comfortable with romanticism, paradox and imagination. So, there is an edge, somewhat unavailable to the uninitiated.

The fine pattern-welded blade was made by Rick Dunkerley, and to my mind, perfectly suits the overall design.


The handle scale is shibuichi (50%copper/50% silver). The inlaid feather is also shibuichi (75%copper/25%silver). These alloys were made to order by Phillip Baldwin. The gold inlays are 22k. The carved transition collar is 18k gold. The signature plate is shakudo. I'd be happy to answer questions about details.

There is a slide-show here:





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