The Lost Planet is on a hidden corner of the Des Moines river near my workshop. It is a strange place, altered by minerals dumped for years by the water treatment plant and hemmed in by the capitol city. Many of the plants that grow there are non natives, Miscanthus and buckthorn, chinese elm and broam. Travelers who share this lost space with a few others who look for quiet in the city. It is scarred, but a place of hidden beauty too. In the fall the gathering flocks of blackbirds roost in the long grass by the thousands and otters slide in and out of the murky water. Rich beds of fossils show a glimpse of the ancient seafloor that spreads out under this Midwestern river valley, which sits at the southern most point reached by the glaciers that shaped it.
The glaciers are in full retreat now and the world is changing. Corporations. Pavement. Touchscreens. Subscription based services and planned obsolescence. For many folks, the convenience of it all has left us feeling a little empty. Lovers of nature and history can feel like the rush to globalize has left us missing a thousand little connections to... ourselves. Not that you want to give up your email account, but wouldn't it be nice to get a letter sometime? Something on soft paper that smells like perfume, with a postmark from Iowa. Romance ain't dead.
Lost Planet Forge is something different. It's a labor of love.
I have always been a seeker of adventure and the solace of nature and knives have always been a primary tool. They are a critical part of being prepared for nearly everything. But they are more than functional.
When I was a boy, my father gave me a folding knife that had belonged to my grandfather. The blade was made of silver and the handle was goat horn. It had the deep blade stamp of the village smith in the small town in Iran where it had been made. That knife told me a story. The design, the materials and the finish all painted a picture of the place and time it came from, the purpose for which it had been made, and the men it had come from.
The wonderful complexity and subtlty of knives belies their apparent simplicity. The variations in geometry, material and heat treatments that make them perform. They are the essence of what is a tool. A single elemental piece of metal, to which knowledge and heat have been applied, that can change the world around you. Cleave matter at a touch. Finnish pukkos, Persian khards, Salvadorian machetes and American Bowie knives are all incarnations of this most basic and most perfect tool.
As an artist I am compelled to make something beautiful. As an outdoorsman, I use my experience in the wilderness to improve my designs and make a better tool. And maybe I'm dreaming, but as a blade smith, I'd like to make a conduit to the outdoors you can hold in your hand. Something halfway between man and nature that engages us. A hunk of earth, carefully molded, that reconnects us to it and reminds us, when we are home again, of how awesome it was. Is that a so much to ask from a knife?