"Why are your knives so expensive?"
These are just a couple of the questions that Mareko gets asked on a daily basis. The answer is not simple, but bladesmithing is not simple, so let's take a look at what goes into building a knife, and what you, the customer, get out of it.
Maybe you went to school for the job you do, maybe you taught yourself everything you know through hours and hours of reading and research, maybe you trained under an expert in your profession learning tips and tricks normally acquired through years of experience. Mareko's training falls under all of these categories.
In the beginning, Mareko apprenticed under the culinary knifemaking legend, Master Smith Bob Kramer. (Mareko doesn't like to call it apprenticing, but 3 years of ground-up training under a Master is apprenticing in my books, and Mirriam-Webster's.) It was this during this time, working with Kramer, that Maumasi built his extremely solid, and quite frankly charmed, foundation. Prior to meeting Bob, Mareko knew nothing about the knifemaking world, but Kramer's thorough training and Mareko's natural talent were fated to meet, and the maker you all know and love today was born.
His time with Bob also awakened an insatiable curiosity for every minute detail of knifemaking for Mareko and he became the orchestrator of his own learning path. His thirst for knowledge is ongoing and constant, a staple in his daily regimen. It has led him to work with other Master Smiths such as David Lisch, Bill Burke, and Michael Quesenberry to name a few. He went to the New England School of Metalwork to learn from the great Master Smith, Steve Culver. He will never stop learning, and because of that, his work will never stop evolving, growing and progressing.
Yes, Mareko's beautiful damascus, (or to be more precise, pattern-welded steel) admired by many is the magic of steel, 2000 degrees of heat and his vision of turning and smashing under 30 tons of hydraulic pressure. The patterns are in Mareko's head. Also, on paper. White boards. His notebook. His phone. I could continue, but you get the idea. I am convinced if you were to perform a lobotomy on him, his brain would be twisted around in a beautiful pattern of grey matter. Damascus patterns dominate his existence like water lilies did Monet's, they are abundant, beautiful, pervasive. But, what they are not, is easy to make. One wrong weld, one wrong turn and the envisioned pattern is gone. Or, maybe things didn't quite match up as they should have. Or, maybe the steel didn't move how he wanted it to. No matter. He will try it again until the steel satisfies his vision.
Which part? All of it. Each knife is a thoughtfully designed, ergonomically engineered masterpiece by a man who worked for years in a kitchen, (and still dices a mean onion, if you must know). He builds comfort and ease of use into the handle. He forges a smooth bolster that can be held for hours on end without discomfort. He shapes and grinds a blade that optimizes food release and makes cutting a watermelon feel like butter. He achieves an overall balance and weight that won't leave you tired after 30 minutes of use. The years of experience and development that are behind each of his knives is immediately obvious when you pick one up. It is simply, a better design.
Mareko's knives are built to last as long as you, or longer if you are so inclined to leave one to your heirs. They are made from iron and wood, elements of the earth that were here before us and will be here long after we are gone. They are crafted with skill and care that ensures their soundness. There is not much you can buy these days that won't need to be replaced, but you can be sure a Maumasi knife will last you a lifetime.
In a world of instant gratification, where you can get anything delivered to you nearly instantaneously for a very wallet-conscious price, it is hard to remember that something like a custom knife quite literally takes time. It takes time to gather the materials. It takes time to fix the whatever that broke this week because it's a working shop which means machines need to work but something is always breaking. It takes time to communicate with customers and colleagues, mentors and vendors. It takes time to design. It takes time to simply build the knife, which is not simple at all.
SO, WHAT IS THE COST OF A KNIFE?
If you hadn't already guessed, the answer is, it depends. But, the most important thing it depends on is what you are ordering, because at the end of the day, there will be no other knife in the world like yours. It is custom built and therefore custom priced.
OK, BUT WHY ARE MAUMASI KNIVES SO EXPENSIVE?
Are they? Are they really? If you've read this far, you probably don't think so. But, for argument's sake, let's say you still do. Perhaps you skipped some parts because you don't like to read and this is really long. No problem. I invite you to check out this video by Be Amazed.