Meet the Maker: Sam Gleeson
Sam is a bladesmith who creates knives as contemporary tools to be used in professional kitchens and at home to prepare meals. The knives are to be enjoyed for their creativity as well as their purpose. The process is elemental, earth for the ore, air to fuel the forge, fire to heat the steel and water to quench the blade. Being able to work at such a base understanding in the modern age is inspiring in itself.
Sam is motivated by materials and the story they hold – giving new purpose to find and recycled steels and incorporate them into his work using centuries old forge-welding techniques to blend and twist them together.
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
if im forging then the forge gets lit and warms up as I finish my coffee and work through the patterns ill be focusing on for the day, once the forge is hot ill normally start with a couple of smaller blades to get my muscles warmed up them move onto bigger blades, i could work straight through then till my older 2 kids are back from school/play school around 3.
if im grinding/polish blades or making handles then the fire gets reloaded to really warm the place up, my workshop is an old agricultural shed with a little insulated room up on a mezzanine – it can get pretty chilly in the winter, the grinding buckets are often frozen first thing so i need a bit of heat in the place!
ill put on Radio FIP or BBC6music, i love both for their diverse music selections, ive tried listening to podcasts but i find they distract me from my work if i actually listen to them
since the twins arrived work days tend to finish by 3 at latest and then i take the kids to the beach or the play park, or maybe load up the carriers and take everyone and the dog for a bit of den building or exploring in the forest around our house – we are big pooh sticks fans in the stream in the woods.
you never know what doors will open because of a smile or a friendly chat.
What do you like most about your work?
Making steel from repurposed, recycled or found antiquities really excites me – I love getting commissions where a customer is sending me bits and pieces that have sentimental attachment to them to incorporate into their knife….at the minute i have a box on my workbench sent over from the states, inside is a decommission rifle barrel of his grandfathers, a plank from the house where he grew up, a stags antler from the first deer he shot and a lovely note asking from something from my own home to be incorporated into the blade to tie our journey together.
What do you like least about your work?
As a 1 man show I find it very difficult to juggle all the pieces sometimes with our recently expanded young family – trying to stay on the ball with social media and marketing can be very difficult and eat into family time when im out of the workshop so I am definitly guilty of not taking pics of my work and keeping my instagram full of stuff.
What’s your favourite time of the day?
I am very lucky to have a good few crafty friends so theres some lovely artwork, furniture, hand made cushions, chopping boards, spoons and other crafty items from around the world.
As a chef I’m also very lucky to have a wonderful selection of handmade knives by other makers which is always a joy to use at home or when doing pop up dinners or catering.
I also built the extension on our house with a friend of ours, our dining table and a few other bits and pieces i made in my previous life as a furniture maker.
What advice would you give someone who is considering this craft career?
Get stuck in, give things a try, don’t be afraid to ask questions, go to other makers you are inspired by and learn, don’t fear mistakes, don’t swing your hammer too hard, look after your back and be nice to others…you never know what doors will open because of a smile or a friendly chat.
How do you switch off?