For the average shooter, the annual CLA show in Lexington, Kentucky is always a great place to outfit one's blackpowder rig with a few needed items. A spartan setup of horn and bag will suffice; muzzleloading enthusiasts are, after all, an eminently practical set of folks. But what makes the CLA show singularly unique is its broad selection of museum quality reproductions, a truly remarkable display of fine craftsmanship that constitutes a breathtaking exhibit of the applied arts. Perhaps no other tool of the muzzleloading trade is as versatile as the frontier longknife, and this year's offering by Kyle Willyard and Djuana Tucker is certain to be a prized catch at the fundraising auction. Far more than just a utilitarian blade, the piece displays a seamless marriage of simple practicality and fine art.
One of the most respected blacksmiths working in the longrifle culture, Willyard has crafted an iconic longknife fitted with an antler handle and capped in sterling silver. The simple antler grip is beautifully accented with a pewter bolster and decorative pewter band, both engraved by noted Kentucky gun maker Mike Miller. Willyard, who specializes in traditional techniques, has imparted the piece with tastefully subdued aging.
Artist Djuana Tucker contributed an exceptional sheath for this longknife. It's entirely period appropriate, crafted from smoked brain tan leather and dyed with walnut hulls. The sheath is well protected by a rawhide liner fitted with a copper wrapped tip. Tucker's creative talents are in full display in the porcupine quillwork that adorns the face of the sheath. "I focus on design aesthetic and composition," explains Tucker, "rather than perfection. Irregularities and asymmetry appeal to me. I refer to catalogs of museum collections and photographs of original pieces for reference, but I am also inspired by the world around me."
Tucker and Willyard's collaborative effort has resulted in an outstanding example of frontier art, and due to their generosity, it's been made available to collectors at the CLA fundraising auction. The artists were happy to pitch in, explains Willyard. "As a member of the CLA," he says, "I believe the organization has been instrumental in supporting and promoting the artisans of the longrifle culture."
Kyle Willyard's work can be seen on his website at http://www.olddominionforge.com, or he can be contact by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Djuana Tucker's work can be seen on his website at http://www.djuanasquillwork.com, or she can be contact by telephone at 618-975-8897, she can be contacted by email at email@example.com. You can also visit her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/djuanatucker, or follow her on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/Djuana_Tucker/.
Copy by Joshua Shepherd with photos supplied by the CLF.