Trained glass artist turned self-taught knife maker, Dan Venables and his partner Abbey Jamieson have been quietly creating from their suburban home studio, turning up the heat and creating very special things.
You may remember seeing this studio on our blog when we profiled ceramicist Abbey Jamieson. You can read her profile here.
Dan went through the ANU School of Art & Design, majoring in the glass workshop and graduated in 2017. Mainly working in blown glass, Dan creates artworks and production pieces. Dan was also a familiar face at the Canberra Glassworks, having worked as one of the 'Make Your Own' instructors.
As a tinkerer, crafter, doer and maker, Dan started whittling green wood in his spare time. After he became proficient at making spoons and other small functional tools he then reached a point where he needed a specific kind of knife. Rather than buying one, Dan went to work to craft his own.
Sparking a love and fascination for metal working, Dan continued to learn and get hands on with knife making; making tools for glassblowing, small paring knives, and finally scaling up to kitchen & chefs knives.
Finding deep satisfaction in creating these tools, Dan has become passionate about producing functional, high quality culinary tools that will last a lifetime if properly cared for.
All of Dan's knives are hand crafted from his home studio using 1095 high carbon steel and reclaimed Australian timber handles.
Most recently Dan has collaborated with online curated design retailer Gingerfinch, on a co-designed artisanal cheese knife. A single piece of carbon steel has been hand forged to create a stunningly balanced tool.
Dan is constantly striving to up-skill and grow his practice..... and we can’t wait to see what else he comes up with next!
How long have you been making knives for? It wasn’t your original making practice, was it?
I've been making knives since 2016. It's not my original making practice though, that's right. I studied glass at the ANU, and have been blowing glass for about six years. I can't have a glassblowing furnace in my backyard though, so I used to do a lot of greenwood carving in my sparetime. At one point or another, I needed a new carving knife, and I decided to try and make one rather than buy one. That first little carving knife was pretty rough, but it was enough to get me hooked - and I haven't stopped making knives since!
Why is local shopping important to you?
I think we have an amazing and diverse creative scene in Canberra, and shopping locally helps to support that scene. If we can build strong local connections and understand the stories around the products we use every day, we all end up better off. Developing these strong connections, and understanding how things are made will help us get away from a disposable product culture, supporting our local economy, and reducing the impact we have on our planet.
What is your favourite part of the process?
My favourite part of knifemaking is definitely the forging process. It's very physical, and requires a lot of concentration. I put some music on, turn on the forge, and get to work. I really enjoy that level of focus - no outside distractions, no worrying about other things, just quietly (or not I guess, forging is quite loud) working away.
What is next for you? Are you developing any new products or learning any techniques?
I'm always trying out new knife shapes and profiles, and I've just started layering and forge welding some blades, which gives a very different look to work I've made previously. I'm also hoping to get some motorised forging equipment in the not too distant future, to take some of the work off my arms!
What is your favourite spot in Canberra?
My favourite spot in Canberra at the moment is up at the arboretum, I love being surrounded by all the different trees.
What have you been binge watching?
At the moment I'm binge watching Community on Nextflix. It's fun and silly, and it's far too easy to watch half a season without realising where the day has gone!
A selection of Dan's hand crafted knives and glass wares are available instore at Shop POP now!