Only about 115 people in the world have been certified as “masters” through the American Bladesmith Society.

On Saturday, two of those 115 were in Middletown.

The annual All Forged Knife Show at the William F. Moran Museum drew some of the country’s most-skilled bladesmiths to Frederick County. They stood on the grounds of a museum named for the Frederick-born man regarded as an international legend in knife-making.

“I can’t believe how much the quality of the knives has improved the last couple years,” said Jay Hendrickson, a master bladesmith who attended the show.

Hendrickson, who lived in Frederick for 50 years and worked closely alongside Moran, said that improvement was largely down to the forging classes the museum offers. Directors are currently in the process of securing permits for a new facility, which will allow them to expand their course offerings, he said.

Moran, who founded the American Bladesmith Society, was born in Frederick in 1925. He’s a household name in the blade-making community, known for re-introducing the technique of patterned welding to modern knives.

“He put Middletown on the map,” said the town’s burgess, John Miller. “His international reputation is amazing.”

Moran’s work is regarded for its beauty, Wilson said — his knives are considered art forms. But before his death in 2006, he made sure his Frederick forging community knew there was more to smithing than aesthetics.

“The main thing that Bill instilled in all of us is that it doesn’t matter how good any of these knives look — if they don’t perform, then they’re not worth anything,” Wilson said.

After the show on Saturday, Hendrickson was headed to test the performance of a fellow maker’s knife. If the man could slice through a thick rope and perform a series of rigorous maneuvers without damaging the blade or handle, he’d be certified as a Journeyman Smith. That’s one step below a master.

This year’s show was different for Wilson and other members of Middletown’s forging community. On Sunday, less than a week earlier, the museum’s vice-president and longtime friend had died of COVID-19. Charles Wolf, whom friends knew as Charlie, was 67.

Wolf was instrumental in putting the knife shows together each year, Wilson said.

“I just really miss him,” Wilson said, his voice breaking.

Still, he smiled as he looked around the museum grounds. About 25 makers came out to exhibit their work, their blades glinting from nearby tables.

Hendrickson, a member of the William F. Moran Foundation, said he was proud of the group’s efforts to educate young people in the art of blacksmithing. The foundation gave away two scholarships for introductory training through the American Bladesmith Society, he said.

“It’s an ancient way, and it’s a very interesting process,” Hendrickson said.

Follow Jillian Atelsek on Twitter: @jillian_atelsek

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!