About a year ago, the esteemed Chairman of our little association, and my dearly beloved came up with the idea of taking a few of the guys to South Africa for some training. Specifically, the American Bladesmith Society’s Introduction to Bladesmithing course, followed by their Handles, Sheaths and Fittings course. Squeezing in some additional courses to advance our damascus skills, and of course try to meet some of the South African You Tube characters that we have been watching.
As Graham had done just exactly that on our last trip to South Africa, successfully avoiding most family get-togethers, he was eminently qualified to express an opinion on the matter.
So, I put together a basic budget, based on previous experience, a bit of guesswork, and came up with a basic budget. We posted this idea on our Facebook site and waited to see who was brave enough to commit to doing the trip in August 2019. The concept was to try to fill one of the ABS courses entirely.
Mission successful, the planning started in earnest. As did the budgeting and cost estimating. The question of how much we could reasonably squeeze in to four weeks, and still have our participants still able to stand.
It was interesting to hear Graham’s suggestions, which were based on his personal experiences in South Africa. Some small inconsequential things amused him, and continue to do so - these things were required to be built into the trip - visits to places like the Kruger National Park, a meal at the Carnivore Restaurant, and going shopping at the Sharp Edge, unless I am mistaken, the largest knife shop in the southern hemisphere.
And of course not forgetting to pop in to visit guys the the Herbsts, who teach folder courses, and are some of the nicest people on this planet, and South Africa’s best knifemaking suppliers, KMTS.
Week 1 - recover from jetlag, have a meat fest at Carnivore, go shopping at KMTS and the Sharp Edge, and of course drop in for coffee with the Herbst guys. Spend a day with Neels van der Berg of Black Dragon Forge.
Week 2 - Introduction to Bladesmithing
Weekend back in Johannesburg to attend a hammer-in with Lin Rhea - ABS Mastersmith
Week 3 - Introduction to Bladesmithing
Weekend In Kruger National Park, doing game drives and going tiger fishing!
Week 4 - Advanced damascus with Henning Wilkinson
I have been quietly working on refining all the last details for this trip, and we are now reaching the pointy end of things. Courses are in process of being paid in full, accommodation as well. I have started to think about little issues such as local sim cards, packing lists, CITES certification so we can import skins, and how to maximise luggage space to allow for purchases to be brought home.
Starting to get a bit excited now….