Brno Super spring 2019 Exhibition

Brno Super spring 2019 Exhibition

The spring Brno Super Exhibition, held on the 16th of March 2019, featured around 70 exhibitors from half a dozen countries. The quality of the craftsmanship was excellent, and there were some surprises.
Text and pictures Martin Helebrant
Left: The last quiet moments before the exhibition begins. Right: There were not only knives but also fine
displays of a blacksmith’s skills. Here is the work of Jan Kovář.

The Brno Super Knife exhibition traditionally opens the Czech cutlery season, and the 2019 edition was no exception. I arrived in Brno more than half of an hour early, but being a familiar member of the fraternity, I was admitted inside and used the time to start my documentation of the exhibition. Good for me; whereas the autumn exhibition was quite relaxed in terms of visitors and even participants, the spring edition turned out busy.
Two liner lock folding knives by Austrian maker Stefan Gobec. The 89 and 72 mm blades are Damasteel,
the handles are mammoth tooth and Mokume. Overall lengths are 205 and 175 mm.

The participation of Czech and Moravian masters has returned to last year’s standard and there were slightly more knife makers from abroad as well. Altogether there were about 70 exhibitors (tables). One was from Austria and one from Germany, two came from Russia, five from Ukraine, two from Hungary, one exhibitor arrived from Poland, and there were only six knife makers from Slovakia (a bit of a surprise, I would have expected more). Three tables offered mid-tech knives from Russia, where the tradition of cooperatives is still strong. About five tables offered knife-making materials, two tables had belts for belt grinders. One table was dedicated exclusively to artistically forged products. The attendance matched the number of exhibitors. Altogether there were more than 700 paying visitors and at some moments in the morning, the narrow corridors of the Via Cruciata in the Dominican monastery were jammed and impossible to pass through. Fortunately, I started making my pictures before the official opening.
Slovakian Vincent Ostradický made these three hand forged skeleton knives from carbon Damask. The
blade lengths are 130 mm, 115 mm and 120 mm respectively.

The entry hall was dominated by the ‘garde vieux’ (old guards) – the work of the time proven masters like Čech, Bareš, Bojtos or the show organizer, master Mr. Maďarič. They were not alone. From my point of view one of the most attractive tables was the one of Grigori Verezhnikov from Ukraine, known for mosaic damask blades of the highest quality. His  blades are used by knife makers all over Europe. A knife of his own production was pictured in European Blades Mag. 22.
Vincent Ostradický (SK) is an aged master with a long beard. His hand forged skeleton knives are good proof that even a white beard can command a hell of a creativity. The ancient but elegant style of forging a knife from the piece of steel rope is maintained alive by Josef L’upták (SK). Being an academic sculptor Josef appreciates the twisted structure of the rope being clearly visible on the handle and it’s reflection in the blade.

Josef L’upták from Slovakia presented these carbon Damask knives forged from steel rope. The blade
lengths are 120 mm, 36 mm, 55 mm and 55 mm, respectively.
German knife maker Arno Runge (Artgewerk) presented these knives with a blade from  Balbach damask.
The handles are stabilized colored ash wood with a fluorescent insert. The overall length of the knives is
232 and 221 mm.

Stefan Gobec from Austria also presented his knives in the entry hall, with fixed blade and folding knives utilizing blades from Damasteel. From Germany came Arno Runge with knives utilizing Balbach damask blades. Balbach damask is not often seen in Czech Republic and as such it is a good inspiration or challenge for the blacksmiths.
And we can go on further tot the core of the exhibition, to the corridors of the Via Cruciata. As is common with the Brno knife exhibition, the international presence was strong. The Slovaks are more or less a rule, as Brno is only couple of kilometers from the Slovak border. Again and again I have to admire the work of Boris Schubert (SK). This time he brought in a new knife named ‘Egypt’, a dagger made from damask steel, ebony and ivory. A bit unusual, yet good looking was the knife of V. Pacák from Karbous knives with the sheath covered by birch bark.
The ‘Egypt’ from Slovakian maker Boris Schubert. The blade is Verezhnikov damask, the handle a
combination of ebony and ivory. The blade length is 210 mm, the overall length is  378 mm.
The ‘Rolf XXL’ by Czech maker Karbous knives. The 210 mm blade is carbon Damask, the handle is birch.
Overall length is 325 mm.
An example of what can be made with just hammer, furnace and anvil were knives from old railway nails, presented by Miroslav Veselý. His Ram is on the edge of sculpture, yet was made (according to the author) during one afternoon on a local assembly of blacksmiths as an demonstration of what can be done with a of pair skilled hands and a good idea.
Miroslav Veselý (CZ) made this ‘Beran’ (Ram) from a railway nail. The overall length is 260 mm.
Miroslav Pouzar (CZ) usually makes knife sets, joined into one unit by an elaborate sheath. The main
knifefrom this set has a 100 mm blade made from carbon steel and has a horse bone handle. The
triangular pick measures 75 mm.
Knives by Miroslav Pouzar were always characterized by the fact that he makes sets of knives, often of a very creative shape. The set is usually joined into one unit by an elaborated sheath. Pouzar himself is a knife maker of high degree but his leather work is always worth of admiration as well. This time he presented a set of a knife, triangular pick and a flint striker. The handle of the knife contains a crude needle made from the drilled tusk of the wildboar’s piglet.
There were also some cooking knives. The ones by Wladimyr Chulan from Wladforge are characterized by layers of copper forged into the blade. Others, also in Asian style, were made by Tomáš ‘Bittner’ Přívratský.
Two fixed blades from Wladimyr Chulan (Wladforge). The knives have a carbon and stainless steel sandwich
blade, measuring 168 and 170 mm respectively. The handle materials are ironwood and mammoth tooth (top)
and micarta.
Two Asian style kitchen knives by Tomáš ‘Bittner’ Přívratský (CZ). The blades are carbon Damask,
measuring 225 mm with both knives. The handles are lindy and maple.
Maxmilián Netrval (CZ) made these three knives with blades from carbon and Ni, carbon Damask or
sandwich steel and handles from Scandinavian Birch and reindeer antler. Overall lengths are 234, 264
and 242 mm.

To my slight surprise, there were hardly any freshman, nor was there the presence of the educational institutions. There were some relatively young knife makers life Max Netrval, a knife maker from Prague who usually does not come to Brno, but he is a skilled and respected maker already. The only true newcomer I noticed was P. Kšeňák, who presented fixed blade knives of simple forms but of an excellent level of workmanship. Well, let us hope for the better to come.
Like every year, the organizers under the lead of Mr Maďarič issued many awards. The main ones are:
The Lordmayor of Brno Award: Arpád Bojtoš, SK
The best of the exhibition: Jaroslav Čech, CZ
The visitor’s award: Kyzliar Cutlery, CZ
Ice Forged (CZ) presented these incredible knives with a 75 mm sandwich ceramic blade, consisting of a
ZrO2 + Y2O3 cutting edge with a carbon composite core and ZrO2 epoxy sides. The handles are carbon
composite and G10.

Last but not least, on the same end of the exhibition, in the farthest corner of the Via Cruciata, I found a true treasure, a Holy Grail. Knives with a ceramic blade are nothing special today, being pioneered by the Japanese Kyocera corporation. But to see a knife with a sandwich ceramic blade, combining the ZrO2 + Y2O cutting edge with a carbon composite core and ZrO2 + epoxy sides, is practically impossible. Especially if you take into account that some parts have to be sintered at 1550° Celsius and then frozen to -35°Celsius. Still, this is exactly what I encountered at the table of the Ice Forged knife makers. The small (75 mm long blade) friction lock (farmer lock) folder has a handle either from carbon fiber composite or from G10. At first sight, the knife looks good but nothing extreme. Still I see it as a breakthrough, an achievement that brings completely new possibilities to the knife maker. As an opening of the new season – a helluva good start.
The ‘Yakut’ (Jakut) by Czech maker Miroslav Pouzar. The carbon steel blade measures 80 mm.The handle
is walnut and reindeer antler. Overall length is 180 mm.
Slovakian knife maker Pavol Turňa presented this knife with a 135 mm stainless blade and a steel and
mammoth tooth handle. Overall length is 242 mm.
Two fixed blades from Czech maker Jaromír Bareš. The blades are Elmax, the handles reindeer antler and
ebony. Overall length is 120 and 122 mm.
A lock back folder from Hungarian maker Sandor Debreczeni , with a 90 mm Damasteel blade and a
handle from ebony and German silver.
Russian knife maker Vladimir Nazarov presented this knife with a 165 mm carbon damask and wootz blade,
and hornbeam and titanium handle.
Two knives by Pavel Kšeňák (CZ). The 140 and 105 mm blades are made from Böhler 1.41.12. The handles
are Padouk.
Polish knife maker Marcin Wilk presented these two fixed blades, both with a 80 CR V2 blade, and a Padouk
and Wenge handle respectively. Overall lengths are 209 and 212 mm.
Slovakian Štefan Galovič made this knife, which was engraved by Marek Horňák. The 170 mm blade is
carbon and nickel steel damask by Pacák, the handle is cow bone.
Two fixed blade hunting knives by Czech maker Karel Horský. The 175 mm and 155 mm blades are
carbon and Ni Damask, the handles are red deer antler and Thuya.
Left: A pipe smoker’s tool by Václav ‘Monty’ Šmíd. Right: Czech maker Jiří Šejna (Opasky s nožem) made this
belt buckle knife. The 30 mm blade and integral handle are N690, the buckle is made from aircraft grade aluminum, and the belt is high grade bovine leather.