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Samples Shipped for a Custom Steak Knife Set; with Antler Handles, Scrimshaw and Inlay work.

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 11-11-2007 08:57 PM 2109 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

For the past 14 months, I have waited patiently to see if my investment in a prestigious national woodworking show would pay off. Sure it was a lot of fun to be counted acceptable by the jury, and to attend the show, but it is hugely expensive for a small one-man operation like I run here. Not only just the cost of the booth fees, but getting things ready to take is a huge undertaking, renting a truck, fuel, hotel, food, etc. I was disappointed with the “return” on my investment, so I elected to stay at home in 2007, and miss this show.

So for the past year, when folks would email me asking if they should apply to the show, I have tried to be honest with them, and tell them, “I don’t know.” I do know that if go to a show like that, you have to go full-bore, and if you don’t, it will show like a toupee in a windstorm. The other exhibitors give it a 100% effort.

During the 2006 Show my booth was set up adjacent to a wonderful couple from Durango, CO, Loren & Lisa Skyhorse (http://www.skyhorse.com/sky/). They have worked as a team for many years building fancy horse riding saddles. I believe that after looking at their work, it is the finest leather carving work I have ever seen, including the fancy saddles in the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum. Their work is just incredible. When I was a kid in 4-H I did several years of leather carving work, and so I can appreciate the hand work, the design, and the ability of someone that is really good at leather work. Their work isn’t cheap, and it can’t be, and it shouldn’t be. There is too much effort and experience invested in their work for it to be cheap.

Not only were they very nice people to my father and I at the big show, but they took some time this summer and helped me with a small project I did that included some leather work. It was an honor to put their tag on the project beside mine. (http://lumberjocks.com/projects/2337)

They have been working hard on a commission project for a client in Las Vegas. In one of their discussions with the interior design firm that is putting together the overall plan for the client’s house, the Skyhorse’s threw my name out as a woodworker that could help with the project. The designers needed some difficult woodworking done fast, and so I was contacted a few weeks ago. I couldn’t do the work as fast as was needed, so I reluctantly had to decline the commission (felt like cutting off my right hand).

A couple of weeks later, the interior design folks were looking through my website and saw my “Hunting Knives.” So, they called and talked to my wife on a Friday afternoon while I was working in the shop. Their question was whether I would like to build a large set of custom steak knives with antlers for handles, inlay work, scrimshaw artwork, for their client, the same project as the Skyhorse’s are working on.

My wife didn’t hesitate…..... and said that she had to go out back to the shop to ask me.

I of course, said, “Yes!”

So, the next step was to build a knife sample. What? Send a sample? In late-September I had to send a carving sample to another interior designer. I’m learning that the investment cost in bidding work to interior design firms is expensive.

So, I rushed around and spent the better part of a week getting a sample knife built and some examples of my scrimshaw artwork ready, and shipped to Las Vegas by overnight express. I was later told that the client liked the samples. We’ve spent the last 2.5 weeks hammering through the details of the design. So, right now, I am waiting now on the deposit check so that I can get started buying materials and doing the work. That should happen early this week.

Here is my sample knife. I didn’t have time to make a “steak knife” blade, so I used the only blade I had, a skinner style blade. I didn’t have any handguard material around here, so I used a chunk of aluminum for the blade guard.

I did have some ivory and some turquoise on hand, so I put together what I had for the sample knife.

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This is the sample “Board” that I used to demonstrate the different artwork that I can do in Scrimshaw on ivory.

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If you like knives, here are some projects I have posted earlier showing knives.

Lumberjock Projects with my knives:
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/241
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/240
http://lumberjocks.com/projects/61

My website link where I have some of my custom knives shown.
http://www.decoustudio.com/knives.html

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com



9 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile

MsDebbieP

18615 posts in 2912 days


#1 posted 11-11-2007 09:12 PM

oh my goodness.
I’ll be checking in again for sure.
Are these done with your Dremel?

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (https://www.facebook.com/DebbiePribeleENJOConsultant)

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8791 posts in 2851 days


#2 posted 11-11-2007 10:44 PM

I’m excited for you Mark!

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana, http://americancraftsmanworkshop.com

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

13266 posts in 2734 days


#3 posted 11-11-2007 10:54 PM

Great work and another fun part of your life’s path. You are a lucky man to have such talent !!

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6702 posts in 2731 days


#4 posted 11-11-2007 11:13 PM

Real nice work Mark.

Sometimes the end result is nowhere near what we were shooting for, but who knows where it will lead.

Although I have to admit to cringing about the “finest saddles statement”. I think our very own Tom Angle is making the finest custom saddles.

Let’s hope this leads to even bigger and better things. I’ve got my fingers crossed for you.

Lee

-- by Lee A. Jesberger http://www.prowoodworkingtips.com http://www.ezee-feed.com

View Karson's profile

Karson

34916 posts in 3152 days


#5 posted 11-11-2007 11:58 PM

Mark. Great looking knife. It will be interesting to see the final products.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View Betsy's profile

Betsy

2914 posts in 2647 days


#6 posted 11-12-2007 12:51 AM

Mark – I’d like to have the talent in your pinky. Can I borrow it?

Seriously great work. You are inspiring.

-- Like a bad penny, I keep coming back!

View cajunpen's profile

cajunpen

14432 posts in 2817 days


#7 posted 11-12-2007 11:22 AM

Mark you are one talented Lumber Jock. Proud to be in the same community, maybe some of that talent will rub off.

-- Bill - "Suit yourself and let the rest be pleased." http://www.cajunpen.com/

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1999 posts in 3157 days


#8 posted 11-13-2007 09:55 PM

I received notice this afternoon, that the custom steak knife order is a “go.” That is a set of 18 and a set of 12 knives. Now, I just have to work like a little beaver to get them finished in time.

This is an important commission for me, and I’ll be signing off of LJ for a few weeks while I get the job finished.
Mark

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View PanamaJack's profile

PanamaJack

4473 posts in 2829 days


#9 posted 11-13-2007 10:42 PM

YOU are da man Mark!

-- Carpe Lignum; Tornare Lignum (Seize the wood, to Turn the wood)

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