Larry Fuegen is not just one of the most famous knifemakers. He is an artist and his work is outstanding. It ranges from marvelous knives to gorgeous spurs. It seems that his creativity is almost unlimited. He approaches many of his work pieces with new ideas and a fantastic design. And he makes the entire knife making process on his own, from forging thru the finish.
´I have been making things since I was a child growing up on my parents´ ranch in Reliance, SD. This gave me many opportunities to be creative. A fascination with knives would compel me to take apart old knives and apply different handles. My first knife was made in 1963.
I started forging knives in 1975, and in 1987 I became a full time bladesmith. That same year I received my American Bladesmith Society Journeyman rating and my Mastersmith rating followed two years later. I joined the Knifemakers Guild in 1988 and became a voting member in 1990.
Over the years, I've remained true to my belief in soul authorship and the original concept of handmade. All of the work on my knives, bits, spurs, and leatherwork is my own. I do not job out any step of the actual knife/bit/spur making process. I handforge my own blades from bar stock and make my own Damascus steel. I do not use premade parts, but prefer to make each piece myself. This is never the quickest or easiest route, but when I´m finished, I feel I´ve accomplished what I set out to do ´ making something truly unique and handmade. I filework, carve or engrave the blades, handles and fittings on my knives/spurs. I do not use any computer operated tools, milling machine or metal lathes, and only the basic tools are in my shop: a drill press, band saw, 2 belt grinders, and one buffer. Small hand tools are made as needed for special applications. These limitations created by the tools I do have force me to be more creative in how I approach the actual design and crafting of my work. It necessitates coming up with an idea that will work both with the tools and the abilities I have. This process forces me to be creative in my designs and fabrication techniques. It helps separate my work from the makers who rely only on their tools and I believe it creates a truly handmade item. I enjoy working with a collector to make something we can both be proud of.´
Larry comments some of his fine pieces of work like this:
Carved Ivory Dagger The transition from handle to guard to blade needs to be as smooth as possible to keep the eye moving around the entire piece. The visual movement created by the Damascus pattern in the blade is transformed by the carving of the ricasso. This carving continues the movement created by the flowing design of the guard that in turn highlights the carving of the steel spacer and fossil ivory handle. The 14k gold bands offer brief areas for the eye to rest. The three parts of the knife: color, texture, and shape are all important, and each is addressed in this dagger.
Art Hunter Carved mammoth ivory, 14k gold, and Damascus steel give this hunter an upscale look. The custom hand sewn leather sheath with its exotic ostrich leg overlay completes this combination of color, texture, and useful design.
Art Nouveau Folder Carved Mother of Pearl, blued steel bolsters and the Damascus blade all have a strong Art Nouveau influence. In the open or closed position, the flow continues from the handle through the bolsters and into the blade. 14k yellow gold liners, overlays on the lockbar, spring and pins all add to the elegance of this folder. To complete this folder, a diamond is set into the thumb stud opener.
Art Bowie The deeply carved design of the fossil mammoth ivory handle is reflected in the carved 14k yellow gold overlay on the textured pommel. A gold wrap around the browned steel guard and gold rings between the handle and fittings create a look of elegance. The handforged carbon steel blade maintain the traditional look and the custom rayskin sheath with its browned steel fittings and gold accents complete this knife and sheath combination.
ALARIC, King of the Visigoths Forged Scroll Folder This piece is the only knife to have ever been accepted into the permanent collection of the Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art Smithsonian Institution. This knife incorporates crown stag, fossil ivory, buffalo horn, gold, sterling silver, copper and Damascus steel for the main materials. It features carving, engraving, stamping, repousse, gold and silver smithing and forging. All of these techniques are needed to make and assemble the parts of this intricate Art folder. It is a wonderful honor to have my work accepted by the Renwick, and to have a knife recognized by the nation's foremost craft museum as an example of fine American Craft.
California Bowie This Bowie exhibits strong influence from the San Francisco Bowies of the Gold Rush Period. I've taken the basic idea and given it my own spin with the use of carved gold, silver, and fossil walrus ivory. A traditional handforged carbon steel blade was used to maintain the historical flavor of this Bowie.
Damascus Spurs Handforged one piece Damascus steel spurs. These spurs exhibit features from Mexican and California style spurs which I've combined with handforged Damascus steel for a very unique look. All parts are handmade. I handforge my own Damascus steel, handcut and filed the rowels, and make the heel chains, spur leathers and sterling silver conchas.
Eventually it is no surprise that so many awards accompany his life. Here are some examples:
1990: Francis Anglade Award for Best Boot Knife - Orlando Guild Show
1990: Damascus USA Moran Award for Best Damascus Knife - California Custom Knife Show
1991: ECCKS - Best Fantasy Knife
1993: Blade Show- Best Fantasy Knife
1993: SICAC Show (Paris) Best Damascus Fixed Bladed Knife
1995: ECCKS show- Best Folder
1995: Blade Show - Best Pearl Handle
1995: SICAC (Paris)- Best Damascus Folder
1997: ECCKS - Best Folder
1997: Art Knife Collectors Assoication- Best Folder
1998: Art Knife Collectors Association - Best Folder
1998: Baretta Award
1998: Solvang Custom Knife Show- Best of Show
1999: ECCKS - Excellent Period Piece
2002: Blade Show - Best Art Knife
2002: Blade Show - Best in Show
2002: Blade Handmade Award ( Best Art Knife)
2002: Blade Handmade Award ( Best in Show)
If you would like to order a knife from Larry Fuegen please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact him directly by email under email@example.com .
Larry Fuegen is Mastersmith of THE AMERICAN BLADESMITH SOCIETY and voting member of THE KNIFEMAKERS´ GUILD.