About the Artist, Alan Folts

 

As long as he can remember, Alan Folts has been interested and intrigued with metals and metalworking. His love affair began at his grandfather's farm. It was there that he watched his beloved grandfather do repairs around the farm and carve wood. The tools here stylized, ornate and highly decorated by skilled craftsmen of the time, as much a labor of love for the craftsmen as those who used the tools in their daily chores.

Alan began cleaning up the old tools when he was still a child of 8. He would take them apart, reassemble them and then learn how to mold raw materials into original creations.



 

By 11, he had begun to work with metals in his father's garage. He discovered that he loved the way he could shape and form the metal into any number of things -- from slingshots and small tools to small knives and cutting tools. He would later confess that it was a natural attraction to the art of metalworking -- an instinctive understanding of the way the materials behave.

Five years later, Alan was working on more original and decorative projects, including making jewelry and buckles from copper and brass wire. He taught himself how to forge small objects using a propane torch and some improvised tools. He also found the time to look through his grandfather's tools again. He dug through piles of old implements, surplus machinations and even an old grinding stone. One of his most prized possessions from his grandfather is a chest of machinist's tools -- gauges, rulers and such. Today, that chest still sits in his state-of-the-art shop, where Alan designs and builds amazing works in metal, including his highly collectible knives.

Though he loved art, electronics, construction and music in high school, he found that he loved to work with his hands more than anything else. Initially, Alan wanted to be a materials engineer -- but instead, he pursued art. As an artist, he experimented with painting, multimedia, and drawing, but was drawn back time and again to sculpture.

It was a good choice. Through his training in sculpture, Alan began to learn the secrets of metal casting in bronze, silver and gold. His first knife won "Best of Show" in a student art competition and his calling was obvious -- he would design, craft and produce original bladed weapons, from highly conceptual pieces to historical works.

Ask Alan

We periodically get questions about Alan and have decided to post those questions and answers here, on the website. Have a question? E-mail it in!

Q: Who among your peers would you consider your favorite knife maker?

A: Jose DeBraga. He did a line of knives that were very modern interpretations - carvings of pistons and mechanical concepts, very space age looking designs. There were multiple finishes on each piece, very intricate as far as detail and design went. I think they are still some of the most striking knives that have ever been produced. It was that era which influenced me most in my knife making.

Q: You've worked with many types of materials and steels. What is the most exotic material you have ever worked with?

A: I once did a knife with a copralite inlay, which is fossilized dinosaur dung. Depending on the specific diet of a type of copralite, it could be funky colors from yellow to orange and purple from the minerals that were in it when it was fossilized. It's basically a rock, so thankfully, it doesn't smell when you grind it.

 

 

 



2009, Alan Folts. All rights reserved, including the right to use imagery on this site.