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Q & A with Matt

  • Q & A with Matt

    Ask Matt

    By William Henry August 14, 2019
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    Have a question about the William Henry multiverse? Email community@williamhenry.com and Matt will choose a couple to answer in this monthly forum...

    Question:  Where do you make your products?

    We design and build virtually every WH piece, across all categories, in our studio in Oregon.  We have three separate shops – one for knives and money clips, one for pens, and one for jewelry.  While we work with outside partners on specific processes and techniques, in the end every piece is built and finished in the studio.  In some cases, we make every single part, 100% internal.  In other cases, we source certain parts to our design, with our materials, and add the handwork and fine craft that elevates each finished piece.  Each WH piece has a minimum of 50, and up to 500, separate hand-craft steps that we execute in the studio.  It takes a village, and the angels are in the details...

    Question:  What is your favorite material?

    That’s a moving target.  I love the PROCESS of designing cool stuff and seeing that manifest thru a lot of hard work and dedication in our system.  So I love the PROCESS of finding that next crazy cool material and figuring out if we can work with it, how we work with it, and how to finish it to capture the imagination.

    I love hand-forged metals, where no two pieces are ever the same.  I love organic materials, current or fossil, that reveal the majesty of nature in unique pattern and color.  The basics, like titanium and carbon fiber, are great as well but they are more predictable and hence a little less alluring.  Great for performance and durability, but closer to a commodity.  I love the stuff that is anti-commodity, that tells a distinct story, that separates us from other brands and gives our customers the chance to create their own truly personal style.  Favorite material?  With all we have found and continue to explore at WH, it changes every day...

     

  • Q & A with Matt

    Ask Matt

    By William Henry July 15, 2019
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    Have a question about the William Henry multiverse? Email community@williamhenry.com and Matt will choose a couple to answer in this monthly forum...

    Question:  Where do you get your amazing materials?

    Everywhere.  Literally.  I’ve been at this for 30 years now, and WH has been around for 22 and counting.  During all that time, I and the staff at WH have searched out rare and storied materials and where to find them.  We’ve built relationships with some of the best metal forgers, engravers, silver smiths, gold smiths and other artisans in the world. We’ve found the individuals who find fossil materials, the finest shells, the best premium natural woods, and the most exotic state of the art alloys and polymers.  It’s a global supply chain of mostly very small shops and businesses that we’ve cultivated to be able to make the coolest stuff we can imagine, one piece at a time, one day at a time.

    Wooly Mammoth, just one of the unique material we use to create our
    one-of-a-kind products

    Question:  Are your blades engraved?

    Never.  After all these years, some people still look at our forged damascus steel blades and think the patterns are ‘engraved’ on the blades. 


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  • Q & A with Matt

    Ask Matt

    By William Henry June 19, 2019
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    Have a question about the William Henry multiverse? Email community@williamhenry.com and Matt will choose a couple to answer in this monthly forum...

    Question:  What is Koftgari?

    Koftgari is an ancient Persian technique for inlaying precious metal into steel.  I have an old knife that I found in a bazaar in Pakistan that features sterling silver inlaid into the forged steel blade, somewhere around 300 years old - so the history runs deep...  Today, this artform is practiced only by a handful of small shops in India, and we’ve worked with two of those shops for 20 years now.  We machine and pre-finish our parts in a high carbon tool steel, then send them to India with guidelines for the artwork, almost always rendered in 24K gold.  The work is intensive – first the artisans use a hand-scribe to create a fine raised grid pattern across the metal, then they use very fine gold wire to create the pattern over the grid.  That gold wire is then burnished, by hand, down into the grid in the steel.  As they burnish the softer gold into the grid in the steel base, they also close the grid onto the gold, capturing the gold within the surface of the steel.  This takes many burnish steps, and between each one they use a salt solution to blue/black the steel the same way you would ‘blue’ a gun.  When complete, the gold is completed sealed and captured in a darkened steel frame, built to last generations (as per my own antique described up top).  Amazing work, and we are proud to bring this ancient artform into a modern context thru our select WH offerings with Koftgari...

    Question:  Where did the name William Henry come from?

    When I started William Henry in 1997, I had a silent partner.  I decided to combine our middle names to create the brand – mine is William, his is Henry.  I liked the name, liked the sense of history it had, and particularly liked that it was not, in fact, a real person.  I wanted people to fall in love with the brand and the work, not a persona or individual.  Right out of the gate I had customers telling me that their grandfather had a William Henry back when, and who was I to disabuse them of this notion?  I always wanted to build a brand and products that were timeless, belonging equally to 100 years ago and 100 years into the future – William Henry seemed like the perfect name to manifest that intention...

     

  • Q & A with Matt

    Ask Matt

    By William Henry May 3, 2019
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    Have a question about the William Henry multiverse? Email community@williamhenry.com and Matt will choose a couple to answer in this monthly forum...

    Question:  How long does it take to make a WH knife?

    I’ve always answered this question “Until it’s done”. Maybe a little trite, but it’s the truth. It’s also true that we orchestrate a global dance on many of our knives, working with master artisans wherever they may be to bring the best to each aspect of the design. As a result, an average knife takes about a year to complete. Yep, a year. Involves anywhere from 6 to 11 different shops in as many as four countries.

    We source amazing materials, work with a number of shops and artisans to prep those materials and turn them into precision parts to our specifications, and then go thru 500-800 separate steps in our Oregon studio to craft each knife from those custom parts. Not easy to do, near impossible to copy, and a daily miracle that we pull it off.


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