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    The Art of Working with Ancient Fossils & Precious Metals

    By William Henry January 7, 2020
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    Jewelry making is a time-honored tradition that extends back millennia when ancient cultures would use organic materials to make religious and ornamental jewelry. Found materials such as bone, shells, and wood were sculpted and carved into spiritual and mythological shapes and figures, sometimes to ward off evil spirits.

    Modern-day jewelry artists utilize more than just ordinary material to create remarkable pieces. Durable metal alloys and extremely rare fossil bones or teeth can be arduously and meticulously sculpted into striking pieces. These require special tools and hundreds of hours of precise and exacting handiwork. The final product evokes refinement and magic as ancient tradition dictates.

    Inspired Designs

    Before artisans sit down to perform their arduous tasks of shaping and sculpting precious materials, they must first draw from their inspiration to create stunning designs. Jewelry makers may develop a beautiful design on a piece of paper as a guide or directly on a metal surface, then lightly shape their material with a sharp point and work from there to create luxury jewelry for the modern man or woman.

    Fossil Bone

    Fossil bone allows jewelry wearers to connect with the past and look toward the future with a sustainable piece that can be passed down from generation to generation. Ancient jewelry makers would use a simple sharp edge of a stone to cut and hard rock to grind symbols into the jewelry.

    Contemporary luxury jewelry made from fossil material showcases a dynamic contrast of up-to-date technology and rare exotic fossil material, the last legacy of legendary creatures that walked the earth at the dawn of mankind. Through it all, the intention and precision remain the same; a focus on sustainability and originality is crucial to making fossils a work of art.

    Metal Engraving

    Metal hand engraving is only undertaken by artisans with years of experience with this unique art practice. Engraving can be performed on soft metals such as gold or more durable metals such as titanium. Master engravers can take numerous metal alloys and carve a complex and intricate design using pinpoint hand movements and sharp engraving tools instead of using the impersonal laser engraving machines.

    Metal jewelry engraving has become more accessible to artists not just to create family crests or coats of arms. Sharp engraving tools are hand pushed into metals to achieve the perfect cut and carving. Each piece will be a one-of-a-kind jewelry sign hand-engraving produces unique features that can’t be reproduced. In addition to creating remarkable images on metal, master engravers may incorporate gemstones and other inlays into their striking creations.

    Metal engraving by hand takes a considerable amount of time compared to using a high-powered laser beam, especially if the material is rare and hard. Metal engravers require multiple rotary engraving tools to produce lines of different sizes. Additionally, engravers must also be careful to not damage precious metals during the painstaking process. The careful attention to detail produces a piece that will last a lifetime.

    The Art of Working with Exotic Materials

    Jewelry artisans are often adept at working with traditional metals, but sometimes, jewelers search far and wide for the next big material. New and exotic materials are more difficult to work with due to their rarity and untested production methods. For example, working with a hundred-million-year-old dinosaur bone requires sourcing the material first, which is an often overlooked aspect of the carving process.

    Acquiring exotic materials is only one part of the equation. Over time, fossil dinosaur bone develops a petrified stone quality making it very hard to work with. Every aspect, from cutting the petrified bone to polishing it, poses new challenges for a craftsman who’s never worked with the material. The end result, when done well, produces a statement piece that brings new life into the wearer’s wardrobe.

    Jewelry techniques and designs have changed over time. Ancient civilizations created jewelry to honor the gods and the wealthy. Today, jewelry made from precious material is accessible to the everyday wearer. Although they may not be fully aware of the time and effort that went into crafting a perfectly carved jewelry piece, the details speak for themselves.

    Jewelry carving is a dying art form that only a refined class of artisans undertake. When laser engraving and software are easy to come by, the need for hand engravers is gone. Instead of relying on pre-made designs, consumers can opt for jewelry made with a human touch and premium and exotic materials. Jewelry sculpted from unique materials such as dinosaur fossils and precious metals can express originality and sophistication with small, but impactful details.

     

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    Legacy Products: How Pocket Knives Become an Extension of Yourself

    By William Henry December 12, 2019
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    The classic pocket knife can be an indispensable, stylish, and multi-functional tool for any person. As modern industrialization and urban landscapes have taken over, the need for these versatile blades has waned, but their significance remains. For utility buffs, a durable pocket knife is an essential component for daily living. Whether you are a hunter, fisherman, musician, or corporate CEO, a pocket knife tends to a human’s innate need for security, autonomy, control, and competence.

    Early Iron Age Innovation

    The oldest-known pocket knife first appeared between approximately 500-600 BC in Hallstatt, Austria, a wealthy Celtic salt mining village. The “jackknife’s” simple, but functional form consisted of a single iron blade and an antler bone handle. During the 1st Century, Roman Empire soldiers carried “friction folders,” which had no locks or springs, but instead used friction to remain closed. The Romans also created one of the first multi-functional Swiss Army-style knives.

    It wasn’t until the 1600s that the handy pocket knife became widely available and affordable for a majority of people. The city of Sheffield in England developed a legendary metalwork industry throughout the Middle Ages to create pocket knives for the common farmer or laborer. In 1660, the slip joint knife was created featuring an innovative back spring to keep them open. Variations of the slip-joint knife include the peanut, sodbuster, camper, canoe, sunfish, and whittler knife.

    Since then, multiple variations on the pocket knife’s shape and material have elevated knifemaking into an art form. During the 18th and 19th centuries, enduring knives like the butterfly knife, switchblade, and Swiss Army knife were created. Today’s resilient luxury pocket knives harken back to early Iron Age designs with artisan-crafted metal blades and handles or an assortment of other durable and organic materials.

    Intuitive and Functional

    Like seeing light for the first time, owning a pocket knife opens up a world of possibilities and fosters a sense of revival. From the razor-sharp blade to the ergonomic handle, pocket knives are built to be an extension of oneself. A tool that has earned its reputation as a weapon, is slowly returning to its workman roots. Whether they are simple utility or ornate folders, pocket knives can offer enormous use with everyday tasks and rare occasions that require preparation and skilled use.

    Folders combine utility and craftsmanship to provide the modern adventurer with an impressive range of abilities. As an everyday carry, pocket knife owners learn soon just how many possible uses there are for the compact and sleek pocket knife. Here are just a few ways a pocket knife can be used.

    • Complement your style with an ornate folder that offers maximum flexibility and utility.
    • Open your personal or business packages and letters with a sleek and practical pocket knife. Quality pocket knives are able to easily cut through the cardboard to avoid getting tape residue on the blade.
    • For those that prefer simple down-home living, a pocket knife is great for slicing fruit from the comfort of your porch or under a giant tree while on a hike.
    • During dire times, a pocket knife can provide you with relief by removing splinters or thorns, as long as you sterilize your blade first.
    • Keep your favorite ensemble looking flawless by cutting loose threads with a sharp pocket knife.
    • Bring your pocket knife on your camping trips to cut rope and wood or open cans and bottles.
    • If you will be fishing on your outdoor adventure, a pocket knife helps you cut line to remove hooks.
    • A pocket knife gives you a sense of security and protection during dangerous situations.

    Form and Aesthetics

    Pocket knives have a seemingly endless amount of uses. They can quickly become a vital component of your daily life and style choices. Choosing the right knife requires you to reflect on your personal style and choose the one that best captures your essence. Besides their design and function, pocket knives must feel good and lightweight in your hand for daily carrying. A smooth, polished, and distinctive knife can instill confidence and pride into any person.

    A blade and handle’s material can include a variety of hand-forged metal alloys and organic materials such as wood, bone, or gemstones. Beyond the accessible tactical military pocket or common Swiss Army knives exist a category of high-end pocket knives that provide more than just impeccable form and function, but a splash of artistry and blend of exotic and durable materials.

    Legacy Masterpieces

    Owning a pocket knife can be an investment and serve as a family heirloom to be passed down from generation to generation. In your lifetime, carrying a pocket knife can offer utility and style in a crafted work of art. Embrace the legacy of pocket knives carried by hunters, soldiers, farmers, miners, and other rugged individuals. As an extension of yourself, luxury and legacy pocket knives require long-term care and consideration to remain in pristine condition.

    While pocket knives offer impressive utility and inventiveness, they don’t require a wild adventure to be useful. Their function extends beyond self-defense or other practical uses. Pocket knives can reflect your personal style. Embrace your sense of style and appreciation in craftsmanship with our pocket knives made from exotic and sustainably-sourced materials. Our pocket knives pay homage to an enduring tradition and push the limits of what a pocket knife can be.

     

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    Walking with the Ancients: What it Means to Work with Prehistoric Bone

    By William Henry December 5, 2019
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    For millennia, humans walked among prehistoric woolly mammoths in their grassland homelands. These majestic and gargantuan creatures inspired fear, curiosity, and reverence in intrepid hunters and gatherers who bore witness to these massive animals. Ancient depictions of woolly mammoths on etched bone and caves paintings ages ago highlight humanity's innate need for expression, individuality, and creativity.

    Woolly mammoths, especially, became an invaluable resource for sustenance and survival in early human life. Today, these extinct beings continue to foster artistry and imagination with the tusks and bones uncovered from its frozen graveyard. Our collection of luxury pocket knives feature responsibly sourced and exotic materials from all around the world, including prehistoric bone. Prehistoric mammoth bone is an evocative material that instills a deep veneration.

    Behind the Myth of the Mammoth

    Paleontologists and avid prehistoric bone trackers traverse harsh landscapes with howling blizzards and a limited food supply for the slim possibility of digging up prehistoric mammoth tusks and bones from the Siberian and Alaska permafrost. Modern prehistoric bone hunters can withstand bitter temperatures and painstaking labor all to find out more about our ancient brethren.

    The colossal woolly mammoth is a close relative to the modern Asian elephant species. Woolly mammoths' lineage dates back almost 7 million years to predecessors who lived in the much warmer climes of Africa. Gradually and over millions of years later, the woolly mammoth's ancestors migrated to Southern Europe and eventually entered the icy terrains of Siberia.

    Early mammoths migrated to North America about 1 million years ago. A genetic adaptation developed in the woolly mammoths in Yukon and Alaska around 300,000 years ago that helped their blood release oxygen, even at freezing temperatures. The last woolly mammoths went extinct about 10,000 years ago with a few last hordes surviving up to 3,000 years ago in isolated islands. Scientists believe that climate change drastically destroyed the mammoth's habitat and food supply leading up to their extinction.

    Living with Mammoths

    We know that Neanderthals and modern humans coexisted with woolly mammoths during the Middle and Upper Paleolithic period due to the many ancient representations of them as figurative art and paintings. Even the earliest examples of figurative art in the world feature ivory sculptures of this noble creature. For over 30,000 years the mammoth has been a symbolic figure of our coexistence.

    Woolly mammoths resembled modern-day Asian elephants in many ways, except that these ancient creatures were covered in thick, brown hair, an evolutionary necessity that developed for them to survive the Arctic's frozen tundras. Their ears were small and covered with fur to prevent frostbite. Their most impressive feature was their big, curved tusks used for foraging on steppe grasslands, breaking ice for drinking, fighting, and other vital functions.

    At about 13 feet high and weighing about 6 tons, woolly mammoths commanded a sublime presence. Mammoths gathered and lived near riverbanks and streams, and would coexist with early humans who built their homes near their stomping grounds. Our ancestors would use woolly mammoths for their meat, skin, bones, and other materials. These organic elements became a foundation for early tools and homes.

    Home and Hearth

    During the Upper Paleolithic period, hunter-gatherers would use every part of woolly mammoths to survive. Woolly mammoth bones were used to make tools and fuel for fire on the steppe plain. In Central Europe, some communities would use these bones as building materials to make homes, known today as mammoth bone dwellings.

    Mammoth bone dwellings often were formed in a round or oval structure. Their walls were made of stacked mammoth bones tied together and implanted firmly in the ground. Inside each mammoth bone dwelling, there would be a central hearth or multiple hearths scattered around full of animal and mammoth bones. Communities would often have a single or various dwellings present at the same time.

    Mammoth bone huts were typically found near old river terraces within deep and narrow gorges. Our ancestors would strategically set up camp between the steep plain and the river where animal herds would migrate. During the long treks for food and water, mammoths would provide many of the necessary materials needed for humans to survive these unforgiving times.

    Materials of Expression

    Contemporary artisans bring the woolly mammoth back to life from the Arctic plains and onto our personal effects. Bone craftsmanship endures as a rare, but expressive form of art, especially when using primordial materials. Bones that once supported these towering and indispensable creatures are now imbued in tools for everyday use.

    From ancient architectural elements and tools for warfare to modern-day accessories, woolly mammoth bones provide artisans with a storied and dense material to work with. At William Henry, we work tirelessly to bring contemporary huntsmen the dark brown woolly mammoth bones to our exemplary pocket knife. The bone features a wood-grain-like pattern that evokes warmth and an undying legacy.

    Our craftsmen polish and process ancient remnants such as fossil mammoth's teeth or bone. Precise handiwork and years of experience working with exotic materials allow us to inlay smooth and sleek fossil mammoth scales into the frames of some of our most exclusive pocket knives. Paired with mesmerizing hand-forged metals and a gemstone button lock, each pocket knife evokes superior craftsmanship and utility.

    Our collection of luxury pocket knives exudes a classic elegance that speaks for itself. Exotic and rare materials only add to the mystery and allure of every one of our functional works of art. These unique and remarkable tools are only made possible by the wonderful and inspiring organic elements around us and beneath us. We pay homage to our ancestors' history and perseverance with these beautiful, handcrafted and ancient materials.

     

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    Knives as Art: Craftsmanship and Style

    By William Henry November 6, 2019
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    From functional and life-sustaining tools to emblems of strength and style, handcrafted knives have become the quintessential instrument for the modern-day warrior. Behind a luxury knife’s razor-sharp utility and flawless aesthetic lies an enduring tradition of hand-engravers, silversmiths, and other highly-skilled artisans keeping the craft alive. 

    The advent of laser and machine engraving increased access to these sharp cutting devices but dwindled the need for imaginative artistry and decades of experience offered by knife makers. William Henry is on a mission to restore the purity of knives as an art form, as well as delight and inspire with exotic and sustainably-sourced materials that tell a captivating story.

    High-quality metal alloys and gemstones are only as good as the craftsman who molds and shapes them into an exemplar of ingenuity and technical prowess. We utilize ancient techniques to harken back to a simpler time and create inventive and daring designs on our handcrafted knife blades and handles. Explore more of the long-established knife-making techniques that we employ at our studios below.

    Fine Hand-Engraving

    Fine hand-engraving is a time-honored craft that requires multiple years of experience and refinement. Old-world engravers didn’t have the luxury of computer-aided design or our contemporary engineering innovations. Aspiring apprentices had to seek mentorship and spend years honing various engraving techniques. The slow and arduous process of learning the trade was eased with newer tools and processes.

    Hand-engravers use a basic technique called “push graving,” in which an engraver uses a hardened and sharpened steel tool called a graver to push through the metal’s surface. Simple, but refined hand engraving requires an adept mastery of motor control and pinpoint precision. Oftentimes, a small and lightweight hammer may be used to create deeper and more vivid details on the surface of a metal.

    Gravers are strong and durable implements with sharpened edges at specific angles meant to create various cuts on metal. As a masterful engraver pushes the graver forward, curls of metal spew from the sharpened edge leaving behind a smooth groove. Artisans hold the graver in various angles throughout the cuts to create thick and thin gradations in the line. These gradations come together to paint a bold design.

    William Henry carves all of their metals by hand with plain, but effective tools and techniques. Our first-rate silversmiths spend long hours in the studio crafting breathtaking and sleek carvings in hard materials such as sterling silver. On top of these artisan-crafted metals, we add a splash of precious stones and the finest gold available to add a luxurious and timeless touch.

    Koftgari

    Parkerization of steel is used to protect the surface from corrosion and improve its toughness. We use an ancient Indian technique called “koftgari” to inlay fine gold and silver designs into parkerized steel or iron surfaces. William Henry's koftgari comes from two small villages in India, home of the very few Indian artisans that still master this technique. These heated metals are pounded into a flat surface to create a distinct shape and carve grooves on it.

    During the koftgari process, knife-makers must create a precise cross-hatch grid in the steel, which acts as a base for the fine gold or silver. After the cross-hatch grid has been created, fine gold or silver can be burnished into the pattern and be bound by the craftsman’s fine markings. After hammering and polishing the surface, the pattern is imbued as an enduring legacy.

    This ancient decorative art technique was originally created by the Mughals in India to emblazon their weaponry. Today, it can mark our most indispensable tools. The term koftgari refers to the beating technique used to flatten the pattern onto the iron or steel. Koftgari techniques differ from region to region and artisan to artisan. Regardless of differences in techniques, knife makers can create stunning motifs displaying years of acquired skill.

    Maki-E

    At William Henry’s studio, we source all of our materials and techniques from the best artisans in the world. Our commitment to legacy and art led us to the discovery of Maki-e, an ancient Japanese technique used to decorate exquisite surfaces. The tried-and-true technique consists of sprinkling gold or silver powder onto a smooth lacquered surface using a fine brush.

    This decorative technique was first used in the Heian Period (794-1185) and flourished thereafter. While this ancient practice was primarily used to decorate household wares, it quickly developed a reputation as a luxury and refined art form for the wealthy. Maki-e artists use a variety of metal powders to create different hues and textures on a smooth surface.

    An expert Maki-e artisan must spend years, sometimes decades, learning the skills necessary to mix powders such as silver, copper, gold, platinum, or brass onto a blank canvas to create an idyllic or magical representation of life. After refining the technique, artisans can freely and proudly call themselves an exceptional Make-Shi (artist).

    The magic of Maki-e art lies in the Urushi lacquer derived from the sap from the native Japanese Urushi tree. This Southeast Asian sap is often collected by hand from over 600 different Urushi species. Then, the sap is painstakingly processed to create the Maki-e lacquer we all know and love. This adhesive base keeps the entire design in place.

    Maki-e’s technique requires craftsmen to use fine brushes to create multiple layers of lacquer, artwork, and inlaid metal flecks. This time-intensive project showcases an unrivaled ingenuity for using various materials in the most precise manner when we apply the technique to our luxury knives. The combination of these techniques produces the mesmerizing and refined William Henry knives available in various styles and designs.

    William Henry's artists take decades to perfect their hand engraving, koftgari, and maki-e techniques to craft dazzling and fresh designs over our blades and handles. Every inch of a William Henry knife features unique and handcrafted details that are a testament of our materials’ resilience and our penchant for groundbreaking artistry. Knifemakers are continually developing their unique artistic style to connect the user with the knife and its remarkable origins.

     

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    10 Exotic Jewelry Materials You Never Knew Existed

    By William Henry November 4, 2019
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    Innovative and striking jewelry pieces can confer a sense of wonder and adventure to any individual. From hand-forged metals to exotic woods, jewelry materials can transcend style, elegance, and artistry. Only an exclusive cadre of artisans take painstaking efforts to source the finest and rarest materials in the world.

    Whether you’re drawn to organic materials or tough metals, there is a treasure trove of exceptional mediums that can speak to your inner spirit. Skilled craftsmen begin with an inspired design that comes to life with a range of alloys, woods, and gemstones. If you want a jewelry piece with a story as unique as yours, consider these materials you never knew existed.

    1. Fossil Dinosaur Bone

    Bones can remind us of our mortality, but fossil dinosaur bones remind us of the earth’s enduring and biodiverse legacy. Fossil dinosaur bone is one of the most exotic jewelry materials available today. Although most dinosaur bone develops a rock-like consistency, truly skilled artists can turn the 100-million-year-old hardy bone into a jewelry accent that tells a story.

    William Henry uses fossil bone from ancient Apatosaurus found in the American Southwest. Wearers revel in its vibrant red, green or brown hue, and grainy texture. Owning a piece of jewelry with dinosaur bone provides you with a captivating history and one-of-a-kind craftsmanship.

    2. Fossil Woolly Mammoth Tooth

    While not as old as a dinosaur bone, a fossil woolly mammoth tooth goes back at least 10,000 years. From cave paintings to your wardrobe, woolly mammoth representations span a range of cultures and time periods. A woolly mammoth’s molar tooth features a striped chewing surface that can vary from piece to piece.

    Our fossil woolly mammoth teeth are harvested off the Alaskan coast. Each piece must dry for at least two years before our artisans can begin to process it. After an extensive drying period, the tooth is stabilized with acrylic resin, sliced, and polished to perfection.

    3. Fossil Mammoth Bone

    From its teeth to its bones, woolly mammoths provide artisans with plenty of storied materials to work with. These Paleolithic artifacts can adorn a statement jewelry piece by showcasing our ability to coexist with these majestic creatures. William Henry’s fossil Mammoth bone features a dark brown, wood-grain-like pattern that can make any piece stand out.

    4. Fossil Coral 

    Organic materials in jewelry connect you deeper with your ecological roots. 110,000-year-old fossil coral comes from Florida quarry mines and onto your wrist or neck. Our personal relationships with vendors have enabled us to source hand-picked fossil coral featuring intricate scales that are typically used to make cement. Instead of being turned into a cold, hard, and impersonal object, fossil coral continues to advance life in your wardrobe.

    5. Zinc Matrix Apple Coral

    Zinc matrix apple coral has an exquisite burnt orange and shimmering gray pattern. Found in southern China and neighboring countries, apple coral is a species of coral known as melithaea sponge. While most coral reefs are an unavailable commodity, melithaea sponge corals are an overlooked, but highly impressive, jewelry material. William Henry infuses the sponge with zinc to create a mesmerizing and original pattern.

    6. Spalted Tamarind

    Spalted wood can be a sign of death or disease in a tree, but as the circle of life comes to an inevitable end, the woods produce a unique color and pattern. Found in tropical Africa, Mexico, and South America, the spalted tamarind we use features a bold golden yellow hue. Who knew that a bushy tree originating in Africa could adorn your everyday accessories?

    7. Eyrie Vineyard Pinot Vine

    Sometimes, the best and most exclusive materials come from esoteric sources. If you’re a wine lover, you’ll appreciate our jewelry made with Eyrie vineyard pinot vine. The Eyrie vineyards are known for producing the first American pinot noir that could hold its own against the rich French pinot noirs.

    Maintain the remarkable legacy close to your heart with one of our limited edition writing instruments made with 35-year-old wood from those celebrated grapevines. Carry the hard work and dedication of these wine-makers in your very own William Henry piece today.

    8. Meteorite

    Meteorite makes for a show-stopping ice breaker. Wear something that is truly out of this world when you don a meteorite-infused jewelry piece. We use Gibeon meteorite from Namibia that has been used for many years by locals to make tools and weapons.

    Meteorite’s nickel-iron crystalline structure contains cobalt and phosphorus producing an extraterrestrial pattern. Each piece of meteorite is unique. Look towards the future and beyond with meteorite-inspired necklaces, bracelets, or cufflinks.

    9. Blacklip Mother of Pearl

    Blacklip mother of pearl is not like your typical mother of pearl. In fact, it is one of the rarest pearls in the world. Our finders source these diminutive shells from French Polynesia. Each shell carries an iridescent sheen over a black backdrop.

    10. Snakewood

    Snakewood has all the charm and none of the bite of an actual serpent. Its snakeskin appearance is just the tip of the iceberg. This Suriname-sourced wood has a rich red color that will brighten your jewelry and days. All William Henry woods are resin-stabilized for longevity and superiority.

    Exotic and rare materials are not easy to come by. In fact, there is only a handful of people that can find these precious fossils, shells, and woods to create one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. They don’t come from a supply warehouse. These unique materials are a result of the stories that bring us together.

     

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