Jake Cleland runs a custom knife business from his home and forge in Orbost on the Isle of Skye. Jake first learnt about the craft of forging from his father whilst at school, and has continued his education ever since, learning from knifemakers worldwide. Jake’s blades are hand-forged, specialising in differential clay-tempering to produce the combination of toughness and flexibility that is made visible in the distinctive hamon. Jake’s work embraces a wide range of influences, applied to pieces ranging in scale from Sgian Dubhs to short-swords. A consistent theme in his work is using island materials - woods, antler, historic iron - to forge pieces rooted in Skye, while also showcasing its diverse historic and current international links.
What value does craft have in daily life?
Making and using crafted objects is a process of connection. It connects us to the unbroken lineage of human creativity and innovation, born of intersecting physical and conceptual worlds. We make - and use - by applying our experiences to aspects of our environment. This grounding is easy to ignore with mass-produced items, which easily become ‘just things’ (and encourage that sort of thinking). Craft, on the other hand, is conscious, and brings awareness of connection to daily life.
What does Scottishness mean to you?
This one is a bit more complex. We are shaped by our environment, both physical and cultural, - Scottishness is that which connects me to those environments. My work makes me very aware of the broad cultural and geographic links – past and present – enjoyed by even our smallest and most remote islands. It also reminds me how disparate people have wrestled with common technical and aesthetic challenges. Scottishness, to me, is neither of these being as contradictory as they might seem.