Aug 11th, 2003 @ 12:34 pm | Author: Julee Russell
When the term "hand-crafted" is used, we often think of articles made of wood or clay, but Guillermo Aragon, Master Blade Smith creates his work from forged steel. In his workshop in the center of Oaxaca City, Guillermo creates exquisitely shaped, polished and decorated knives of all shapes and sizes. Some of the knives are intended for use in hunting, others for use at the dinner table, and still others for decoration.
Artist Profile: Guillermo Aragon
The Aragon blades, known throughout Mexico and the world for their quality and strength, are created using a special process developed by Guillermo’s great-grandfather in the late 1800’s. Hermenegildo Aragon discovered the secret of tempering steel to the point where the blade of a machete could be bent into a circle without breaking and then returned to its original shape. One of these machetes was presented to then Mexican President Porfirio Diaz, and is on display in a French museum.
A tour of Guillermo’s workshop reveals the care and attention given to each blade, regardless of its size. From the smallest souvenir knife to a large machete, each blade goes through the same process from the forge to the final product. When the Valley City State University choir toured Oaxaca in 2002, Guillermo and his wife Sandra presented each choir member with a small, personalized, souvenir blade as a memento of their visit.
The process begins with a bar of steel, approximately ten feet long. The bar is then placed in the forge until it is red-hot. Then it is pounded and shaped and heated over and over until the general shape of the blade is evident. Then more detailed shaping takes place followed by rough polishing and shaping. Finer polishing with a machine and by hand gives the blade its luster. Then each blade is carefully etched with acid. The designs are as varied as the customers. Some designs replicate those found in the ancient ruins of Mitla and Monte Alb*n near Oaxaca. Others include scenes from nature such as deer, trees, and birds. The date of completion is also etched into each blade.
Many blades are produced for exhibition and sale at various expositions throughout the country and Europe. Others are produced for general sale, and Guillermo also receives many special orders for knives with particular or unique decorations. In all, the high quality blades produced by the House of Aragon represent strength and durability as well as beauty.
Guillermo Aragon and his wife Sandra will be participating in Fiesta Mexicana 2003, scheduled for September 25, 26, and 27 in the City Auditorium in Valley City. This will be their second Fiesta, and they are both looking forward to returning to North Dakota.