Are you a maker or a taker?

Mackenzie Moore • Jul 29, 2018 at 4:08 PM

For 30 years, internationally acclaimed blacksmith Jason Knight has sharpened his forging skills, from crafting small knives and spears in high school to evolving into a professional blacksmith in 2001.

Now, the public has the opportunity to learn knife-making techniques from the master at the Little Chicago Downtown Music and Arts Festival on Aug. 11 from 4-8 p.m.

The previous “Forged in Fire” judge aspires to share the philosophy of being a maker, not a taker. He believes that in the modern-age of consumerism, it’s healthy to hone personal skills to give back.

“Within the last 100 years in America, we’ve become a society of consumers and takers, and I’m really worn out with that,” Knight said. “As I was growing up, I would see all these hand-made things — hand-made shirts, hand-made shoes, hand-made knives — made by an individual craftsman, and I found that to be so intriguing.

“It’s so important to hold fast to those principles.”

Knight set out to make durable blades for families to pass on to future generations to cherish as a relic. He places high importance on the quality of his products, whether its in the detail of the handle or the forging on the blade.

“Something that inspires me is that I want to make something that won’t wear out, or at least will last for several generations before it does,” he said. “So, it’s one of those things, like grandpa’s axe or grandma’s kitchen knife, you know what I mean?

“It’s something like that that will be handed down through time and be used as a tool and an heirloom.”

Hopeful blacksmiths who are serious about turning their passion into a career need to evaluate the reason they wish to forge and create tools, according to Knight.

“So one of the things that I do is talk about is the ‘why,’” Knight said. “Like, why do I do this, or why do I do that? It’s really important to get your ‘why’ correct. You don’t really do it for the money.

“Be a maker because you want to make. You want to make a difference in your life, and you want to make a difference in your skillset. You want to make a difference in the way you approach the world that we live in. It just turns on a whole other set of gears in your brain. Just do it. Don’t be afraid.”

Explore Knight’s work on his Instagram account.

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