BIOGRAPHY - GARY BLANCHARD
Gary Blanchard started his professional art career in the U. S. Navy in 1966 as a Draftsman. After the Navy, he worked in Southern California as a Technical Illustrator and eventually became a Senior Graphics Designer. During the late 1960's through the 1970's and part of the 1980's, he explored various professions, such as musician, finish carpenter, law enforcement officer and cross-country truck driver, keeping art as a hobby until the middle of 1983 when he started up his first business, naming it “Carvings in Metal”.
Although he has had no formal education in art, he sculpts bronzes, paints in oil, pastel chalks and acrylics. He also carves in wood, ivory and just about anything else he can sink a bit into.
Gary started in the knife business in 1977 by creating scrimshaw scenes on knife handles. He offered his work to customers by attending some of the local knife and gun shows at that time. He also provided his work to various cutlery stores and private commissions. However, he felt that there were already so many good scrimshaw artists that he needed to be different and create something unique which, after a period of time, led to carving the metal bolsters on knives.
His appreciation of the beauty of custom knives led him to creating his own form of enhancement and he introduced his art to the custom knife world in 1982. As a hobby he started carving old beef steak bones with an electric powered dental drill. He applied this same method when he first started engraving knife bolsters. His art form of engraving was always a little different than any other engraver. His work was and still is unique. His trademark for many years was what he calls his “oak type leaves” with deep relief engraving. Occasionally he makes art daggers, but mostly concentrates his efforts on making precision titanium or stainless folding knives. With the titanium knives, he anodizes the titanium into very rich and varied colors to accentuate his art work. Today, his studio is outfitted with sophisticated pneumatic rotary equipment, most of which has been adapted by him to accommodate his style of art work.
His love of custom made knives took him to another dimension in the knife world and he became a knife maker. Gary’s first dagger was made in 1989, followed by folding knives in 1991 and side locks in 1995. In October 1994, a retail knife store “Blanchard’s Cutlery” was opened in Las Vegas on the famous strip. In October 1997 a larger store took its place at a different location in Las Vegas. In both stores the knife making and engraving were done right in the store behind a large viewing window so that the customers could see any works in progress. The store was sold in August 2002 so that Gary could concentrate solely on the design and fabrication of custom knives.
He applied for and received a U.S. Patent (6,553,671) on his button blade release mechanism in August 2003. This Button Release is now a major facet of his current knife projects. Most of his folders employ the Button Release and this usually becomes the art area showcase for the “subject” of the knife theme. Gary usually spends quite a bit of time engraving the “ button” of the release mechanism to blend into the artwork, rendering it nearly invisible to customers who are unfamiliar with his Button Release knives.
Currently Gary is involved with teaching his oldest son the art of making knives, and plans to take advantage of this resource of fresh ideas.
• Voting Member of the Knife Makers Guild
BIOGRAPHY - ERYK BLANCHARD
Eryk, the oldest son of Gary Blanchard, grew up around the knife industry. He spent the last 15 years in Las Vegas, Nevada; some of which was spent working at his parent's knife store "Blanchard's Cutlery". Though interested in the knife world, he wanted to try his hand at other careers such as; wildland firefighter, bartender, air freight services and landscape design to name a few. Finally, in 2009 Eryk decided he wanted to pursue his deep seeded interest in the art of making custom knives. In February of 2010, he relocated to Tennessee to become his father's understudy.
He is currently focusing on learning to make side-locking and button-release folding knives. With guidance from his father, Eryk hopes to bring fresh ideas to the table while ensuring the same quality, workmanship and beauty that is synonymous with the Blanchard name.