Wilke, Jean

Pretoria, South Africa

          Cell.         083 654 5408

          eMail.      jean@fire-goby-forge.co.za


My road as knifemaker started with the reality show “Forged in Fire”. For my 14th birthday I went for a 1-day smithing course. The first moment I took that red-hot piece of steel out of the forge, the universe sighed: “another soul has found his calling…” I thank God for the talent He gave me.

As a 15year old, I spent 2 weeks at Heavin Forge on the ABS course. Here the idea to become the youngest person ever to join KGSA (Knife Maker’s Guild of Southern Africa) crystalized into a firm goal. The next year-and-a-half was a search for perfection. And slowly my skill improved. Early December 2019, I designed the first three knives I believed was good enough. My goal for the December holiday was to complete them. Numerous phone calls to Kevin and re-do’s of small things, was the sum of that December holiday.

By mid January I had 2 knives I was confident in and one chef knife I was not certain of. I went to Stuart Smith for a first evaluation… The man is tough, but he saw no large issues and he suggested I make an appointment with the Harveys. The week leading up to the trip, I completed the cut & bend knife. So on one beautiful day the family and and I invaded Belfast, with smiling faces and nervous hearts. First was the cut & bend test. It was one of the happiest moments of my life when I passed that.

See a video on https://www.facebook.com/FireGobyForge/videos/306943134006530/

Short-lived was my relief as the 2 master smiths took my knives for inspection. There was good and bad news. 2 of the knives were OK but the chef knife was a re-do! So I had 2 knives done, but 2 to go. BUT alas the school holiday was gone, so the other knives would have to wait….. On the way back my dad had one of those moments of absolute brilliance that has opened so many doors for me. “If you do not have enough knives for KGSA, what about Cape Knife Makers’ Guild? A quick phone call to Stan Hohowsky, a mail to Rick Alfonso and three days later my 2 submission knives were on their way to Cape Town.

“Congratulations and welcome to the Cape Knife Makers’ Guild”, the WhatsApp from Rick read. It was a Friday afternoon. I had just got home from school and as my phone connected to the WiFi, the message flashed onto the screen. I think I stopped smiling the next Wednesday…..