For the tribes of the northeast woodlands, no item in the warrior’s kit was as essential as a good blade, which very often took the form of the traditional neck knife. French Capt. Pierre Pouchot, who closely observed the natives during the French and Indian War, noted that Indian warriors wouldn’t venture anywhere without one. “Their knife is hung from a sheath from the neck, and falls upon the breast,” wrote Pouchot, and “they regard this property as sacred as their children.”
For this year’s CLF fundraising auction, artists Charles Wallingford and Bill Wright have teamed up to produce a high-grade reproduction of the iconic neck knife. Nothing takes a patina quite like antique steel; to forge the 4 inch blade of this knife, Wallingford chose high-carbon steel salvaged from an old horse drawn dump rake. The antler handle was dyed in a bath of black tea, and further aged with hand-rubbed leather dye. The result is a museum-quality piece from one of the CLA’s most experienced master blade smiths.
Wallingford’s diminutive masterpiece is married to a stunning custom sheath crafted by Bill Wright. Wright is widely known for creating exceptional leather and quill work. With this piece, he more than lives up to that reputation. Crafted from period-appropriate brain tanned deerskin, this piece is dyed with black walnut hulls and entirely hand sewn. The sheath is tastefully adorned with traditionally dyed porcupine quillwork and brass cones sporting deer hair tufts.
For the two artists, this project was a fitting way to support the longevity of the organization. “The CLA,” explains Wright, “has been a great vehicle to showcase like-minded people who are drawn to the nostalgia of the 1700s and 1800s”
“To me,” says Wallingford, “the CLA is an outlet for anyone to display their talents and to learn from other artists. A venue to meet and discuss historical aspects as well as techniques.”
For more information on the work of the artists, contact:
Charles Wallingford: firstname.lastname@example.org, or see his website at www.cwknives.com
Bill Wright: email@example.com
Text by J. Shepherd with photos by Ric Lambert