CORBIN — Two locals have paired up once again — this time to create a unique reading experience for history buffs and knife enthusiasts alike.
Hank Gevedon, Lynn Camp School teacher and designer with Reptile Tool Works, along with artist and illustrator Kellene Turner recently collaborated on a book called “Blades that Shaped America,” along with Berea College history professor Paul Rominger.
The idea for the book came about during discussions between Gevedon, who has created and sold knives since 1978, and Rominger when Gevedon was looking at new, interesting knives to create.
“We started a discussion that turned into a very interesting conversation between a historian and a knife maker about what was out there,” Gevedon said. “Within the next few weeks, he began sending me information and looking at things and I thought, ‘this is great.’ About a month in, when I was trying to decide how to make these knives, I thought ‘man, we’ve got to capture some of this.’ So, we started discussing doing a book.
“I wanted to make 10 or 12 knives that have never actually been seen, never been manufactured, attributed to people and places and times. We settled on early revolutionary through the 1900s, a very formative time in our political culture and social fabric. I just started pulling these out and then Paul would do the history on them.”
Gevedon and Turner have collaborated on projects before, including their recent children’s book “How the Littlest Hero Fought the Villain Virus Down to Zero” about COVID-19 and the ongoing pandemic, so Gevedon said it was a no-brainer to ask Turner to create the knife illustrations for the chapter breaks of the book.
Turner, a self-proclaimed knife nut herself, said she was on board as soon as Gevedon mentioned she would be creating the knife illustrations for this book.
“Who wouldn’t want to illustrate such history and such craftsmanship and be part of that preservation,” Turner asked. “You’re putting in someone’s hand a tangible and usable item. You’re getting the history, you’re getting the process, you’re seeing it. As far as capturing that and illustrating it, it’s what I love to do. It’s a multiple tier win-win-win across the board because I just love art and being part of that more engineering style or side, so it was an honor for me to do this.”
Turner explained that her process for drawing each knife was to physically touch each knife, feel the weight of it and how it might move and then create her illustration from that.
The 216-page book discusses 12 different historically inspired knives and tomahawks from the history behind them to the actual building of the knife.
Readers can also sign up for a one-year subscription in which they will receive six knives or tomahawks from the book every other month for a year.
“You look through a book or you look through a history book and you see something and you think, ‘wow, I wonder what that actually feels like’ and for the first time, you can actually be involved in that,” Gevedon said. “You can read about how we made them, how we set them up and how we’re going to produce them.
“Running a subscription from an existing book is kind of new. We put the book out and then we had so much love coming back on it, that we knew we would have to run them but we didn’t know how. You’re going to get something very, very special as a part of this subscription. There has been a history book about knives or there has been a DIY book, so we kind of put this together and then also offered the knives.”
Gevedon said “Blades that Shaped America” is a book for a wide audience.
“We’ve got something for the knife historian, we’ve got something for just the plain knife nut and then in there, I share a lot of tips and secrets as a knife maker, so you’ve got something for the do-it-yourself guy,” he said. “It’s really kind of a book for historians, knife nuts and knife makers combined into one and then to add it to that, instead of just looking at pictures of that knife, you can own that knife.”
So far, Gevedon said they currently have 35 people signed up for the subscription service with hopes of potentially continuing the subscription next year with the other six knives.
“Blades that Shaped America” can be found on www.reptiletool.works, along with several buying options for the book, knives and the one-year subscription.