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Custom Ray Rybar All American Bowie donated by Ray Rybar
(Retail Value: $15,000)
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The Story of the All American Bowie
As told by ABS Master Bladesmith Ray Rybar
Because of the importance of the work Knife Rights does, I knew this knife had to be something special. What came to mind for me were things like, God, Country and the Constitution. I wanted this special knife to represent these things.
When my clients commission a piece from me I begin with an idea then plan what will go into my home-made steel to achieve the outcome I am looking for. For this steel, I wanted it to represent "Country" and "All American." Over the next year, I collected materials from across the United States.
I collected some hematite (iron ore) from the banks of Peters Creek and Jacobs Creek in Southwestern Pennsylvania at a spot where a very early stone iron furnace can still be seen. Also near this spot, at the junction of Piney Fork Creek and Peters Creek, once stood a black powder mill. When I was in Alabama I found some magnetite (another iron ore) in an area not far from the Birmingham Steel Mill and the Civil War era Tannehill Iron Furnace. From just south of Tucson, Arizona, I found some meteorites and a little southeast of my home in Camp Verde, Arizona, I hand-picked a small amount of manganese from Bloody Basin.
I smelted the ores I had collected with a bit of manganese added to each in order to help ease forging of the steel. The carbon content was adjusted and the tedious process of turning the blobs of smelted ore into good solid steel bars began.
Once the bars were completed, the layering began. Since the nickel content was minimal it was necessary to utilize the "San-Mai" method. San-Mai is a Japanese term that indicates three or triplet. In the application of this blade the San-Mai concept consists of a solid high carbon steel core (also made by me) with sides of pattern layered material known as Damascus. This process gives a hard core for the cutting edge and a softer spine to make it more durable.
I deliberately manipulated the Damascus to create open panels for etching the famous quote from acclaimed actor and former NRA President Charlton Heston, "...from my cold dead hands." Charlton Heston was a staunch and outspoken supporter of our Second Amendment and the freedoms it preserves. The other side is etched with, "ALL AMERICAN BOWIE."
I chose several meaningful Mosaic Damascus pieces I had previously created for the blade; the Cross, the Stars and Stripes, a Pistol and a Skull. The Cross mosaic is made up of 357 separate pieces. It is in this blade to represent the Biblical G_D of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob first and foremost. The Stars and Stripes represent our Republic, Constitution and Bill of Rights. The Pistol mosaic represents the historic means by which we, as Americans, have the right to protect our freedoms. The last mosaic, a skull, represents the outcome of giving up any of the rights we have been given by G_D, by our Constitution and by our Bill of Rights.
The process by which these mosaics were added to this blade is known as plugging. Close examination will show that each mosaic goes all the way through the blade.
The perfect handle for the All American Bowie had to be elk. Since there are elk all around my home and each year they shed their antlers, this renewable resource was collected locally. The two worked pins that secure the elk antler handle to the blade are Sterling Silver, along with the worked Sterling Silver collars above and below the Damscus "S" guard. These symbolize the first Americans on the continent. Many, mostly Navajo and Apache, are my neighbors today. I smelted the Silver from ore gathered on Mingus Mountain in Arizona. The Eagle carved into the elk handle represents strength, courage and freedom, the key attributes of the American people.
I am honored to present this piece to Knife Rights in support of their mission.
Blade Length: 13.25"
Blade Style: Bowie
Blade Steel: Smith-made San-Mai Damascus with Mosaic Damascus Plugs
Blade Thickness: 0.625"
Overall Length: 19.5"
Handle: Elk with Silver, Damascus "S" Guard
Retail Value: $15,000
Email: Ray Rybar
About Ray Rybar
Ray has been forging steel for over forty years. He has been smelting his own iron and steel for over twenty years. He has been collecting and smelting his own copper and silver ore for more than ten years.
Ray is one of less than one hundred and fifty Master Smiths registered worldwide by the American Bladesmith Society. The American Bladesmith Society is the accepted world standard for forging excellence. Queen Elizabeth's armorer, James Jackson, came to the United States in 2001 to test for the coveted American Bladesmith Master Stamp. Both Mr. Jackson and Ray Rybar were successful that year.
Ray's work is collected not only domestically, but also worldwide. He has been the recipient of Best Art Award at the BLADE Show International Cutlery Exposition once and recipient of the Best Damascus Award twice. He was honored with the prestigious Moran Award in 2015. Ray has received many other awards, which are too numerous to mention.
Ray is also an accomplished teacher and has taught classes at Touchstone Center for the Crafts in Pennsylvania, the Bill Moran School for Bladesmithing in Arkansas, The Tannehill Ironworks in Alabama, Pieh Tool Company in Arizona and one on one classes in his own shop located in Camp Verde Arizona.
His work can be seen published between the covers of Art of the Knife by Joe Kertzman and Spirit of the Sword by Steve Shackelford as well as numerous monthly publications.
As an Artist blacksmith, I direct my primary effort to cutlery but not exclusively. I am most known for bold Damascus patterns, and more recently, near impossibly intricate mosaics.
The Inspiration for my most sought after works comes from scripture and is centered on Biblical themes. I conduct my business under the premise that if art is your master, it will become your idol. If it is your servant, it will become your ministry.
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