I come from a “handy” family, and have made things with my hand for most of my life, starting with those first attempts at building birdhouses under my dad's watchful eye. Since then, I've dabbled in many craft forms, had a dalliance with acrylic and oil painting in high school, and finally settled into packaging design as a career.
But it wasn't enough. There was an unfulfilled need to create something more meaningful, and a draw towards Eastern art that became apparent with my love for Akira Kurosawa films, and my involvement in Japanese sword arts. Perhaps inevitably, in 2006 this resulted buying a few tools and trying my hand at making some of the fittings I found on the training swords we use in iaido.
Those first few attempts were shaky and uncoordinated, but they set the stage for a more focused approach to doing the work. The next few pieces and research that accompanied them led me to a group of makers engaged not just in the making of sword fittings, but the active pursuit of “traditional” methodologies in said making. The learning curve was steep, but the lure of “meaning” in those practices was too attractive to pass up - there were too many parallels with my martial arts practice for it to only be about making.
Then in April 2012, I was very fortunate to be invited to South Africa by Ford Hallam, to work in his studio for a month. This was the beginning of an "awakening" of sorts, and was the start of a relationship that continues to this day. He is a constant source of inspiration and knowledge, and I am truly thankful and humbled to consider him a teacher and friend. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since then, I have met many others that do similar work and am keenly aware of the community that is being built. I find great inspiration and motivation in the work that these people are creating as they themselves find inspiration in the old masters.
It is an exciting time.