In 1992, I abandoned my beloved wood to focus on my second, or maybe even first passion – photography. It has been fascinating me since I was a child but as a profession it was like terra incognita to me. I jumped in at the deep end as my first important client was the conglomerate PepsiCo and then all of its subsidiaries, such as later separated Pizza Hut and KFC. With PepsiCo I’ve been working for 14 years, mostly on exclusive rights. Through those dozen or so years I worked principally as PR and advertising photographer for the biggest international companies, almost all of them Americans. I can proudly say that amongst my mostly regular and long-term clients but also those occasional ones were companies such as: PepsiCo, Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell, Pepsi Źródło Pniewy, CitiBank, BAE Systems (SAAB Gripen), Coca-Cola, DaimlerChrysler, Marconi, SHURE, Lockheed Martin, Raiffeisen Bank, Société Générale, ING, Pekao S.A., San Marzano, Orlen, Lech, EB, DrWitt, Polfa, Mostostal Export S.A., etc.
I was working with the largest agencies like NoS/BBDO, Saatchi & Saatchi, United Publishers owned by Małgorzata Niezabitowska or Spin Communications. At that time I had a pleasure to photograph three presidents, scores of politicians, stars of Polish and world rock and blues scene including celebrities like the Rolling Stones, Pamela Anderson, Shaggy, Coco Taylor, Junior Wells and many others.
In 2001, I put on the resounding, original exhibition of the stage photography of Polish musicians entitled Polish Rock 2000 sponsored by Pizza Hut and Kodak Polska. I also have hundreds of publications in Polish and foreign magazines (last two ones in 2020 in Twój Blues), books, albums or even as their covers, eg. American Photography World 2015 (in which there are more photos of mine and portfolio). I am the author of three CD covers – one of Irek Dudek and two of Maanam, and my photos could be found in biography of Kora or marketing brochures published by Pekao S.A. CitiBank, San Marzano, Pizza Hut, BAE Systems, Mercedes and some construction companies.
Unfortunately, this idyll got disrupted by September 11 attacks and American creative accounting case. Year-long mourning after these tragic events and latter patching up the inaccuracies of my American clients meant to me a real survival trying to make ends meet, however, slightly forgotten, but there it was waiting for me – WOOD.
Thus, making knives is a combination of coming back to the roots, good genes, experience, acquired skills and increasing along the way creativity. All of my knives are created in one and unique copy. Each one of them is a separate and complete project, taking into consideration the blade, tang and sheath but also its future use. My priority is quality, that’s why I’m using the highest class materials from steel to wood, horns, antlers, bones and leather. Due to this reason, one won’t find mere semi-products, and the only unnatural used element would be synthetic glue. I look for the most beautiful and precious raw materials all around the world and that’s where I’m ordering them from. I mostly design by myself, sometimes getting inspired by other world-widely known masters, however the tangs are fully unique and of my own idea.
Steel in my knives is hand-forged, 1095/15N20 damascus or multi-layered steel made in technique SanMai, consisting of folding multiple layers of softer steel eg. 15N20 on very hard core from 1095 steel, and the final product is called the laminate. Other materials I use are: the original, uniform, Swedish, high carbon steel of 440c type; German D2 steel and grey, American, spring, steel of 1095 type. Two penultimate types may be considered stainless due to the high content of chrome and nickel.
All of the steel parts are protected against corrosion. In order to achieve this, I use the highest class inhibitor Rust Veto 100D from the British company Houghton. According to the producer’s guarantee it should do its job for a year when used commonly and even years if the knife has only decorative functions. Carbon steel should be always taken care of as a matter of precaution. That’s why it should be kept away from the humidity and after each use wiped with any kind of fat: vegetal or animal one, wax or liquid paraffin. The knife looked after in such a way would do its job properly a lifetime!
If it comes to wooden parts made from non-stabilised wood, I tend to finish them off with oils from Rustins: Danish Oil providing beautiful, dim, satine shine; Teak Oil giving high shine; or sometimes I go for tung oil with matte effect. Currently, however, I mostly use stabilised wood for tangs. When its maximum humidity is 7% it is placed in vacuum chamber and all of the air it contains is sucked and then replaced with liquid acrylate, so-called MMA. After removing the piece from the chamber, the wood is warmed up many hours in order to cure the substance. Its specific weight increases around 25-40%. In the result of these few days’ process, the wood is no longer susceptible to water intake, cracks, swelling or crooking and becomes resistant to the most of the chemicals. It is very time-consuming and expensive process but it increases the value and versatility of the wood. In this technique dyed MMA may be used which results in stunning effects, especially if the stabilised wood is hard, birch burr or it is coming from trees exposed to weather conditions more than others or if it’s simply different tree parts like boles, buttresses or roots.
Another priority, apart from the quality of the used material, is its utility and what comes with it – ergonomics – a knife should fit a hand like a glove so that it helps in the task instead of disrupting them and so that it wouldn’t be necessary to look for the correct placement to realise a perfect cut.
The looks, even though the easiest to observe, is the last aspect I take into account. Good design catches one’s eye, though, a knife shall be, above all, a knife which means being a tool to do tasks it was created for.