The Custom Knife Collectors Association recently toured the newly renovated campus of the University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana (UAHT) James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades. After the tour, the association presented the UAHT Foundation with a donation of $15,000 to support the mission of the UAHT James Black School.

The purpose of the Custom Knife Collectors Association (CKCA) is to recognize and promote the artistic significance of handmade knives in the 21st century, to advance their collection and conservation, and to support the craft and creative expression of the individuals who design and make them.

“The UAHT Foundation is honored to receive the generous support of the Custom Knife Collectors Association for the UAHT James Black School of Bladesmithing and Historic Trades. The CKCA represents the essence of our mission at the UAHT James Black School. Their membership embodies a diverse population of dedicated knife enthusiasts who are bound together by a common commitment to celebrating the artistic and historic value of handmade knives,” said Chris Thomason, UAHT Chancellor.

UAHT is launching the new bladesmith school this spring to celebrate and preserve the art of bladesmithing and the birth of the famous Bowie Knife in Arkansas. The historic campus will offer state-of-the-art facilities and instruction in a setting that is steeped in the history and heritage of the artistic trade. Bladesmithing is where metal-working and art are fused with heat and tools. A bladesmith uses various metalworking techniques similar to those used by blacksmiths to create blades by using a forge, hammer, anvil, and other smithing tools. Students at the school will study the art and science of bladesmithing, forging, handles and guards, Damascus steel, and more.

In 1831, James Black crafted the original Bowie knife in Washington, Arkansas. The result was that Washington, Arkansas, and Black became almost immediately famous for producing what is now recognized as the official blade of the State of Arkansas and the National American Blade. The Bowie Knife is designated as the official knife of the State of Arkansas. Earlier this year, the Arkansas General Assembly passed, and Governor Asa Hutchinson signed into law ACT 818, which designated Historic Washington, Arkansas, as the “Birthplace of the Bowie Knife, Arkansas Heritage Site” and designated UAHT to develop and operate a school of bladesmithing located in Historic Washington.

“The UAHT James Black School will strive to demonstrate the same legacy of support as the CKCA for the handmade knives craft while nurturing the artistic expression that is represented in every piece. The financial gift provided by the CKCA to support the UAHT James Black School will allow our campus to provide a world-class opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the history, art, and trade of bladesmithing in Historic Washington,” said Thomason.

The James Black School is unique in the University of Arkansas System, and it will reflect the same quality and commitment to excellence in student learning that is the centerpiece of the missions of both UAHT and the U of A System. The school will be operated by UAHT from the college’s beautiful and historic facility located at Historic Washington State Park, 601 Lawrence Street, Washington, Arkansas.

For more information, call 870-722-8201.


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