Made in Vermont: Rockmaple Forge & B.W. Williams Cutlery
SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - South Burlington’s Benjamin Williams sure knows how to make a knife. It’s all thanks to a historical reenactment event he attended two decades ago.
“There was a guy doing traditional blacksmithing and I said, ‘Hey cool, I’m going to go check it out,’” he recalled. “‘He kind of points at me and goes, ‘Hey you, big guy, want to try this?’ And I said, ‘Yes, yes I do actually.’”
That interaction forged a new hobby for Williams, one that slowly snowballed into a career.
“You know, I went from making stuff for myself and making stuff for my friends to people being like, ‘Hey, can you make this for me and I’ll pay you?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I suppose,’” he said.
He already had metalworking experience as an art student at the University of Vermont. But, his love for the craft took a new shape as time went on. About two years ago, he started Rockmaple Forge, also known as B.W. Williams Cutlery, molding together his artistic abilities and his love of the craft.
“It’s a physical medium which I do enjoy. It requires a lot of thinking, it’s a fairly intellectual process which I also enjoy. So it covers a lot of bases for me,” explained Williams.
Kitchenware makes up most of the work Williams does, though he’s done a wide range of blacksmithing work and is happy to make anything within his abilities. Using Damascus and sometimes stainless steels, Williams says he focuses mostly on making a good working blade and intricate, one-of-a-kind handles.
“It really comes down to the individual artist,” explained Williams. “I know plenty of people that on a technical level do similar work to mine. It comes down to, what am I adding creatively?”
He also says these products are made to last a lifetime.
“They’re made to last several, to be very honest,” he laughed.
These knives will set you back hundreds of dollars. But, using high-quality supplies and procedures that have stood the test of time, Williams says these knives could last hundreds of years.
While he takes commissions, you can also find him at the Burlington Farmers Market and the Renaissance Faires at the Champlain Valley Expo, bringing him full circle to the way he got his start.
“You know I wasn’t really expecting it to end up like this. It’s just something I truly enjoy and people kept asking,” he said.
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