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Szántó Szabolcs "Szasza"I was born in Budapest in 1976. It was during my secondary school years that I got into Medieval Fighting with my friends and schoolmates.

We went on successful tours all over the country for over ten years with the Salamon Medieval Fighting Club which we had co-founded. We displayed a portrayal of the 13th and 14th century knighthood and we appeared in period dress and armory.

I made my first set of weapons, i.e. daggers, swords and axes, in the smithy of András Jeges. I was a true apprentice, just like in the old times, and thus I helped the master smith with some of his work. Being a student, I needed to take time off of my weekends to do that.

Later, a friend and fellow Salamon Fighting Club member started his own smithy. He contacted me and asked me to work with him since I had already had experience in forging. Also, I had a thorough knowledge of the relevant historical period. I never hesitated to accept this great offer and so I started to make a living by working and forging metals. I worked for him for six years and made countless swords and armors for both the domestic and foreign markets. During that time we attended many Medieval festivals and fairs in a number of European countries.

In 2003 I opened my own workshop. By that time I was already making knives in my free time after work and so I was planning to follow along that line. I was spending more and more time making knives and by 2004 and 2005 this eventually took up all my time. However, I did not stop making weapons for Medieval fighting either.

I set up a website to show off my work so that more people can get to know my name and what I do. My business picked up after some time.

I got to know a growing number of people and I became interested in making folk-style jackknives. I regarded them as something of a challenge. Thanks to Árpád Tóth, a jackknife-maker, I got to learn a lot about them. It was a present he gave me that launched my knife-making career. I was greatly impressed by the tradition of the Révész Knives Workshop and by the quality of their jackknives. I made my first jackknife all by myself. I was already toying with the idea of making one in the previous workshop I worked in, but it only came later that I managed to make a truly folk-style, quality jackknife. I am indebted for professional advice to Ferenc Kocsis, as his helpful opinion greatly contributed to my diversified knowledge concerning knives and jackknives.

For the last couple of years I have exhibited my work at many exhibitions and fairs. Among many, at the Hungexpo, at the Székesfehérvár Forgers’ Meeting and at the annual Budapest International Knife Exhibition.

I had been nominating a lot of my work to be judged by the Council of Applied Folk Art since 2004, as it long had been a goal of mine to win the title of “Applied Folk Artist”. It finally came true in 2007 and so now I am an Applied Folk Artist! Another great acknowledgement I have recently received is the Professional Special Award which I have won at the Knife of the Year Contest announced by Késműves Magazin, a specialist knife magazine.

It has been my goal in the last couple of years to always improve my skills. I aim to make the most authentic, best quality products from the best quality materials. I hope to go to a lot more fairs and show off my work in my country and abroad. It is a wonderful feeling when my returning customers admire my work and praise my earlier knives. I wish to keep it this way, so that more and more people can enjoy the traditions that knives and folk-style jackknives have to offer.