Michael Donato has a fine eye for quality and is a respected collector, historian, and a noted authority on the knife-making arts. We are launching a series of dialogs with him designed to pierce the often-cluttered intersections of art, collecting, valuation, sourcing, and choice-making. Michael presents the facts, facts that he believes you’ll find fascinating and informative, and by the way, he can hold you engrossed in a story about knives and knife-making like few others can.
The series, named Focus Pocus, after knife-maker Mike Tyre’s Fancy Gents Folding Knife, is designed to engage you in enlightening conversations that entertain and keep you in the know on the many facets of the art and the business sides of custom knife making. Here’s a slice from episode 1’s, “The Point Is…,” Michael describes the role of The Appraiser in the world of collectible knives:
Michael:”In order for a value to be achieved, typically exposure needs to be there. An item needs to be brought to someone’s attention. Do they understand what they are viewing? Does the buyer have an understanding of the time spent in the design, crafting, materials, and the quality of the work performed to deliver this piece? Well, once you’ve got someone to understand [those facts and draw attention to them] then that’s a step closer to value and that is where market valuation is created. Having a deep understanding of the item, its history, desirability, and what went into it is instrumental to an appraiser doing his or her job.”
“Barry Gallagher is one of the most, influential Damascus makers in the custom knife world. He made extraordinary pieces back in the early 2000s. his knives would sell for over $2000.00 several years ago. You had Rick Dunkley, Barry Gallagher, and Shane Taylor. These guys are part of the Montana Mafia, so they influenced each other’s work, they learned with one another, they taught each other. Barry no longer makes knives. [Back then] his work was considered the “cat’s meow.” He was among the first knifemakers to use Mosaic Damascus. it’s very time-consuming and very complex artistry. Very few people were doing it then. That’s why it was such a craze at the time. Now, it’s much more common to work this way and the pricing for it is just not there.”
Scott Sawby is a knifemaker extraordinaire. Devotion to craft, and a definitive eye for the art of design, highlight his contributions to the continuing development and evolution of knifemaking. Among his many innovative techniques, Scott holds patents on self-lock and button-lock designs that feel flawless in the hand. He works within 1/1000th of an inch tolerance, and the way he sandwiches the back spine of the knife between 2 pieces of stainless steel makes his creations appear and feels seamless, they are among the best-produced knives in the world. “When looking at his lapidary skills, Scott’s work is second to none. Focus and persistence are essential when artists cut and polish stones. Sawby cuts with such precision that you feel no transition between the stone and the steel.” Donato added: “When you look at his work – it screams to you that that’s a Scott Sawby Knife.” There is a “direct to consumer” value to his knives that collectors appreciate. Scott bases his prices on a simple equation: shop hours, collaboration with associates, craftsmanship, and the materials used during the production process.
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The series continues when Michael explores the topic: Fame. Why do names like Loveless resonate and reach international acclaim, while other quality knife-makers work in almost total obscurity? Focus Pocus will soon be available to listen to and watch on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Stick with us, we’ll tell you when!