Ward Nelson Jewelry and Blades

"Let's begin with the premise that what we make with our hands is the by product of a process and the process is the path we follow. "  --Don Fogg

The Journey

Ever since I was young I had a desire to create things.  I was especially interested in making knives.  I don't remember when or why I became interested in knife making but my desire was strong.  I put together a couple of kit knives and even tried to grind some blades with a bench grinder.  I was not at all satisfied with the results and started looking for books about knife making.  There weren't a lot of books about knife making back then, but I did find a couple.  In one of these books I read that it takes a lot of expensive and specialized tools to make knives.  I think that more than anything else discouraged me and I quit trying to make knives.  I lacked the knowledge, ability, and tools. 

My wonder at how things were made persisted however.  I had been playing the violin since I was a boy and used to look at it and wonder how anyone could have created such a thing with his own two hands.  To carve such complex shapes and assemble them with such precision seamed like some kind of magic to me.  I couldn't even begin to imagine how it was done.

Many years later I read a book that showed the process and tools used to create a violin.  It certainly didn't look easy, but there it was.  There was a logical process to learn and follow and it suddenly made sense that someone could make a violin with his own two hands.  From that day forward I knew that if I wanted to craft something that existed only in my mind I simply had to study the process, acquire the tools, and practice, practice, practice.

I never did learn to make a violin, but I did start to learn and enjoy some basic woodworking skills.  The first time I successfully crafted something from raw materials, I was hooked!

At some point I was reminded of the desire I had to make my own knives.  By now I had acquired a lot more knowledge, skills, and tools than back when I first tried.  I started doing some research; and thanks to the writings of blade smiths like Wayne Goddard, Tim Lively, and Tai Goo I found out that I could start making knives with nothing but a fire, a hammer, and some files.  That's exactly how I started and I made quite a few knives that way.

While learning to make knives I became inspired by some of the jewelry that other knifemakers were creating.  I started making some simple jewelry as Christmas presents.  The jewelry really sparked my creativity and every piece of jewelry inspired two or three more ideas.  Before long, I was working on jewelry even more than knives.

After a lifetime of wanting to create things with my mind and my hands, I feel that I am finally walking that path.

About Me

I was born in White Bear Lake, MN in 1970 the youngest of six.  I grew up with a love of the outdoors.  My favorite ways to spend my time were and still are; hiking, camping, canoeing, rock climbing, running, and mountain biking.

I have always had an interest in the martial arts.  I started studying martial arts as a teenager and for over a decade it was my main passion.  I eventually attained a first-degree black belt in Chuan Lu Boxing.

At the age of 17 I joined the US Army Reserve and served for six years in military intelligence as a ground surveillance radar operator eventually getting out as a sergeant (E-5).  I'm very thankful for my time in the military.  I was able to meet and serve with some very outstanding people.  But I always knew that I wasn't going to make the military my career and once I started a family I knew it was time for me to move on.

I've played violin since childhood and as a young adult I learned to play guitar.  In 1992 I started playing with the band Midnight Tea and for the next decade music dominated my life.  We played many shows together and recorded a CD called "Time".  We have all become very busy with family life and don't get out and play much, but we still work on recording projects together.