Prague Advent 2022

After two covid-marked years, the Prague Advent knife exhibition is back where it was: a great event to end the year, with many nice people and a lot of beautiful knives. The 2022 edition was held on 4 December.
Text and pictures: Martin Helebrant
The Prague New Town Hall just before opening.

The Prague Advent knives exhibition is for the Czech knife fans the traditional end of the year. The previous two years were adversely influenced by the covid epidemy, but like every other exhibition in 2022, the Prague Advent represented a return to normality. The number of visitors returned to the pre-covid range, and the exhibition again has become a good, welcome opportunity for the Czech knife loving fraternity (and sorority as well) to meet, enjoy and chat.
Prague takes place relatively shortly after the Brno autumn knife show. Of the two, in my opinion, the Prague exhibition has always been bigger in terms of number of exhibitors and much more down to earth. Whereas Brno is full of high arts, Prague is full of high grade craftmanship. That does not mean that the art was missing. Mrs and Mr Kovařík were present, and they are known by their high-grade knives but on their table there was nothing what hadn’t been present already in Brno. Mrs Vlada Klihavcová has been one of the prime engravers of the Czech cutlery for a long time. This year Ms Veronika “Havralena” Sochová was a newcomer on the exhibition. Being an absolvent of the High School of Applied Arts from Turnov, she presented nice fine relief engravings with natural motifs on knives made by her partner in the trade. Added to this she presented her jewelry. Ms Sochová was not alone. A nice addition on the table of recognized knifemaker Michal Jakuza Jarý was the bijouterie made by his partner Ms Jana Rácová.
Veronika “Havralena” Sochová – an engraver on the starting point of her knife path.

Talking about the Turnov school: it is worth mentioning that within the education curriculum of blacksmith students there is an obligatory annual work on the topic “the knife”. The best results are presented on the different forums as evidence of the student’s skills. The Prague Advent exhibition was one of these occasions. I have to say that I am always impressed by the creativity of the young student’s, but I have to say as well that in my eyes the function (cutting and / or stabbing) should come first and the design should follow, whereas sometimes the reverse is the case.
Part of the blacksmith’s curriculum on the High school of applied arts at Turnov is the creation of a knife.
As can be seen, students are creative.

Back to cutlery. Usually, there are only a few representants of the highly sculpted knives (so frequently seen in Brno), but the design, nice “haute coltellerie” design, is omnipresent. I would like to mention the knife Shinkanzen by Filip Kurota of Filda’s knives. Filip is known for his high grade craftmanship, resulting in sober, nicely made folding knives, a true gentleman’s jewelry. But in his Shinkanzen he really broke his limits. Together with the stand in the shape of rails, it is a masterpiece of design. The cherry on the pie: there is a small trolley in the stand so the train (the opened knife) really can roll down the rails. Kurota was not alone. I would also like to mention the set Chimera by Petr Hofman – a knife with a very slim blade and a minute (still fully functional) fork, both with a double fold-over grip. The idea is executed in perfect craftmanship.
After a short absence, Martin Hlinák was back again with his knives with a smart modification of the Axis lock. I like the modification; it is a clever one and retains all the functionality of the original Axis. Hlinák presented his lock on the shows more than 5 years ago, and has used it ever since. Now the Cold Steel Company presents knives with the same locking mechanism, and patented it. In my opinion Hlinák has been the first who came with the lock and therefore I can only say that it is a pity that he did not patent his idea.
The trend prevailing in this year’s exhibitions is simplicity of design, executed with machine (-like) excellence. Nice sample are knives of Miroslav Hájek (“Old CNC hand”), made by hand, or knives by Vojta Benisch (made with machinery support), or knives by Deštěnský, who creates his knives in a traditional design but with mechanical perfectionism. And I noticed a growing popularity of wootz (homemade) steel blades.
If you are looking for something traditional, the tables of Jan Hermach, Arkadyi Dabakyan, Miroslav Pouzar or Maxmilián Netrval offered a lot. And a newcomer that should not be forgotten, Artur Kazaryan (no matter of the name, he lives and works in Prague). But if you looked for some real, real old timer, then it was the knife by Jaroslav Hawthorn Lett: made from soft spruce wood with an edge created by resin glued chips of flint. It was very unusual and performed surprisingly well.
Kitchen knives were present too, as well as small neck knives. And plenty of industrial production, as well as leather products (wallets). Forr the first time there was also a table with hand made fountain pens. Nice ones. A booth of the Short Blade Association – a sports knife fencing association - also attracted quite an interest. There was a lot to see, but my major impression was of the friendly, pre-Christmas atmosphere. A bit of relaxation, meeting friends, people simply trying to be good. A nice time and nice occasion, a lot of meetings occurred in the Granite bar. After two covid-marked years, this was again the Advent Prague as I remember it.
A surprisingly large selection of sharpening stones on the table of Bohemia knives.
The dining room of commons (Mázhaus) is traditionally reserved for the industrial production.
A double-bladed hunting knife by Jan Hermach. The combined blade and saw are from RWL. The handle
is Mouflon horn. Overall length is 234 mm.
A working knife by Miloslav Pouzar. The 140 mm blade is Wootz, the handle is Acacia.
Overall length is 204 mm.
A fixed blade by Karel Krebs. The blade is 19452 steel, the handle is Reindeer antler.
Overall length is 210 mm.
Two `Penguin knives` by Vojta Benisch. Both have D2 blades and G10 handle scales. They measure
162 and 165 mm respectively.
Filip Kurota (Filda’s Knives) presented this “Shinkanzen”. The stand in the shape of rails has a small
trolley, so the “train” (the opened knife) really can roll down the rails. The blade is ELMAX, the handle is
Titanium with Zirconium inlays.
The Chimera by Petr Hofman is a knife with a very slim blade and a minute (still fully functional) fork, both
with a double fold-over grip. The blade is carbon damask. Overall length is 179 mm.
A folder by Filip Kurota. The 90 mm blade is ELMAX sandwich, the handle is Pertinax and Mokume.
Jakub Petráš showed this folder with a 19312 and K600 Carbon Damask blade. The handle is stainless
steel. Overall length is 214 mm.
A food knife and a bushcraft knife by David Broz (Knifet). Both have E690 blades. The upper knife has a
Birch and Ebony handle, the lower one an Apple handle. Overall lengths are 223 and 270 mm respectively.
A remarkable knife from Jaroslav “Hawthorn” Lett: pieces of flintstone glued with a natural resin to a
Spruce wooden handle. The knife measures 198 mm.
A back lock folder from Veronika “Havralena” Sochová. The Stainless steel blade is 75 mm long.
The handle is Stabilized wood. Shown below are several examples of Veronika’s engraving.
Three folders from Martin Hlinák. The blades are D2 and Stainless Damask by R. Bláha.
Two fixed blades from Arkadiy Dabakyian. The blades are D2 and N690, the handles stabilized Thuya
and Hornbeam respectively. Overall lengths are 212 and 224 mm.
A folder by Martin Hlinák. The blade is Stainless Damask by R. Bláha, the handle is laminated wood.
Overall length is 210 mm.
A kitchen knife by Tomáš Bittner. The 172 mm blade is Carbon Damask, the handle is Alder.
Two examples of the work of Maxmilián Netrval. The upper one has a Carbon Damask blade and a handle
from Reindeer antler and stabilized Alder. The lower knife has a Stainless Damask blade and a handle
from Karelian Birch. The knives measure 324 and 240 mm respectively.
Three neck knives from Petr Weingärtner (PW Custom). The knives are made from VG10 and Elmax and
measure between 125 and 130 mm.
Two Japanese style kitchen knives by P. Filip. Both have a blade from 1.2562 steel, one with a Lilac
handle, the other with a handle of Apple and buffalo Horn.
Two knives by Artur Kazarjan. The upper one has a Carbon Damask blade and Hornbeam and Mammoth
handle. The lower one has a 19 312 steel blade and Karelian Birch and Mammoth handle.
An outdoor set by Miloslav Pouzar. All three blades are Wootz and the handles stabilized Ash. The two
knives measure 125 mm and 295 mm respective. The saw is 280 mm.
Three knives by Miroslav Hájek. The blades are K110, the handles stabilized wood.
An elegant knife by Miloslav Pouzar. The 140 mm blade is 19 312 steel, the handle is stabilized wood.
Overall length is 295 mm.