Jean Collin - Knivesmith in the old tradition

My blacksmith's shop in Herrstein and my activities are to some extent part of the long tradition of small blacksmith's workshops, as they used to exist not only in the countryside but also in the outskirts of the cities. However, people's needs have changed. What used to come from agriculture, handicrafts and households and could feed a traditional blacksmith well, of course no longer exists today in the machine age.

In the regional tradition I am however also, knowing that around the 1700sthere were numerous knife smiths between Herrstein and Rhaunen. This may have been favored by the many watercourses that served to drive the (few) machines (bellows and hammer mills) at that time.

A need for good knives and cutting tools still exists today, especially in cooking and culinary arts, forestry and gardening, hunting and fishing, outdoor activities, many traditional crafts, restorers and sports. As an experimental archaeologist, I am familiar with the long history of iron, so museums, collectors, reenactment enthusiasts and living-history fans are also among my clientele.

I want my knives and tools to be used, but also to be appreciated and cared for, and I want them to be passed on for their quality and function and not end up in the trash. Making high quality and functional knives and tools is not that difficult in itself, but it takes experience, good materials, good tools, and the right conditions during manufacturing. For me, the time component is secondary to the goal of creating good quality.

My philosophy is to follow the high craftsmanship of our ancestors and to carefully make essential steps in the production by hand as in the past. I am guided by principles such as those formulated again in more recent times by the Arts&Crafts movement in England and the MINGEI culture in Japan: To make tools and other everyday objects in a harmony of function, design and material.

In doing so, my goal is by no means to stop time or even go back in time, but to look at what we can recover in the good things of the past today to make the present a little richer, more individual and more interesting. I try to pass on this concept in my courses and seminars and to find people who can identify with it.

You can also get to know me and my work personally during my blacksmithing demonstrations as part of the torchlight tours through the historic town center of Herrstein.

I like the nature in the Hunsrück in the change of the seasons and above all I like the quietness there. I especially love small, winding paths and the rugged beauty in many places, whether I'm hiking or mountain biking. I enjoy interesting encounters with animals and plants - just recently I encountered a large herd of deer, which was a very impressive experience. I especially like to be on the so lovingly selected paths of the Saar-Hunsrück dream loops.

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