Episode #82 Kevin and Heather Harvey “If you’ve got a feel for steel…go for it!”

Heather and Kevin Harvey from South Africa, they are both Master Bladesmiths with the American Bladesmith Society. They attained their M.S stamps in 2003 making them, at that time, the only married couple Mastersmiths. Heather was the second lady Master Bladesmith. I think now there are four ladies that have their MS stamps  and one other married couple Mastersmiths worldwide. They are the only Master Bladesmiths on the African continent. Both are also members of the Knifemakers’ Guild of Southern Africa and founder members of the Southern African Bladesmiths Association. Both are authorised instructors in Bladesmithing with the ABS. Regular classes are presented at their Heavin Forge Bladesmithing Studio and School in South Africa. The two will be travelling here to the US and demonstrating at the SOFA Quad state round up.

Harvey knife Heather Harvey at the power hammer Kevin Harvey Diamond_Dagger

What We Talked About

  • The couple met each other at a historical theme park, Gold Reef City, a re-creation of Johannesburg as a mining town 100 years ago. Heather was the blacksmith on site and Kevin was helping the woodworker in his workshop.  Eventually, they began spending a lot of time together in each workshop, so much that the management decided to move the workshops closer together!
  • They both enjoy many outdoor activities together such as fly fishing, four wheeling, and taking care of their 4 horses (which are named after weapons, Assagai, Bowie, Tomahawk). And their ram named Valiant.
  • In 1998 they both traveled to the American Bladesmith School in Arkansas for training. After returning to South Africa, they immediately founded the Southern African Bladesmiths Association (S.A.B.A) along with Bertie Rietveld and Tom Nelson.  They had at least 100 people show up for their first “hammer-in” , this was due to the fact that no one was forging knives at the time, most knifemakers were using the stock removal process.  So seeing forging techniques and heat treatment processes was very new to the current knifemakers in the area.
  • Kevin and Heather were involved with creating a marking schedule to be used by the Knifemakers’ Guild of Southern Africa’s evaluation committee in order to allow forged knives to be recognized and for people to attain guild membership by submitting forged knives. In 2003 Heather was the first person to pass their Guild evaluation using forged blades.
  • In 2003 they both received their Master Smith certifications in Atlanta with the American Bladesmith Society.
  • The recent television program “Forged in Fire” has helped fill Kevin and Heather’s knife classes they offer at Heavin Forge. In fact, they are booked full until June of 2017!
  • Their shop consists of three rooms: the clean room where they perform hand work, the dusty room is where the belt grinders are housed and the hot house room where all of the forging happens. They have enough stations for 6 students at one time.
  • Due to the lack of good quality anvils being available in South Africa, Kevin designed an anvil pattern and had a group of 12 cast. He talks about the process and what it was like seeking out foundries and heat treaters in South Africa.
  • They will be coming to the US to demonstrate at the SOFA Quad State Round up in September 2016. The demonstration will be making a Zulu Assegai (spear) where the blade length, excluding the narrow tang, is between 14 – 16 inches. The demo will involve forging the blade, heat treating it, grinding and polishing. The wooden shaft will be made at their home in South Africa from royal wood known as “pink ivory” which was only used by Zulu chiefs in their weapons. Heather will be giving a presentation and lecture on the Zulu culture and the history of the Assegai weapon.
  • Heather is not able to forge anymore due to having some injuries to her right thumb and left forearm. The injuries are not related to forging, they were separate accidents that happened on their farm.

Guest Links

A Big Thank You to today’s sponsor – Sothern Ohio Forge and Anvil organization, http://www.sofablacksmiths.org/index.html

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