Knives Illustrated - - Rising Talent - STORY BY JOSHUA SWANAGON | PHOTOS BY KAREN JONES

Hav­ing grown up in Colorado and lived in New Mex­ico for a while, I’ve al­ways had a fond­ness for Na­tive Amer­i­can style. When I first saw KJ’S work at Thunderhorse Blades, it re­minded me a lot of home.

I am drawn to her nat­u­ral han­dle ma­te­ri­als, Na­tive Amer­i­can trim­mings and the com­pletely util­i­tar­ian de­signs—es­pe­cially when it comes to her fa­vorite style to make, the bowie. Though I like aes­thet­i­cally pleas­ing knives, I do not col­lect safe queens, so when I see a knife that has “safe queen” looks with ranch hand func­tion­al­ity and build, my at­ten­tion is piqued. I love a great-look­ing knife, but I have to be able to use it—and that is where Thunderhorse Blades comes in.

01 An Im­pres­sive His­tory

Be­ing raised by a ca­reer mil­i­tary fa­ther who loved the Old West, KJ learned re­spon­si­ble gun and knife han­dling from a young age. This even­tu­ally led to her be­com­ing a Wild West en­ter­tainer all over the coun­try, per­form­ing tricks such as trick shoot­ing, trick horses, trick rop­ing, bull whips and knife throw­ing— which led to her be­com­ing in­ducted into the In­ter­na­tional Knife Throw­ers Hall of Fame. While work­ing at the ESEE booth at Blade Show in 2011, she met Justin Gin­grich of Gin­grich Tac­ti­cal and her knife­mak­ing ca­reer be­gan.

02 The Chal­lenges

KJ found the tran­si­tion to be chal­leng­ing. She had no back­ground, and she went from a life­long ca­reer to one that had no safety net. Com­ing into a male dom­i­nated in­dus­try made it a lit­tle dif­fi­cult for her to find her niche, but from what I can tell she has set­tled in very nicely. Al­though she is very good at pro­mot­ing oth­ers, she finds it dif­fi­cult to pro­mote her­self. Once peo­ple see her work, how­ever, that will not be much of an is­sue any more.

03 In­spired

When asked who in­spires her, KJ had a hard time nar­row­ing it down from the many great tal­ents out there. How­ever, she does find a fa­vorite in Fine Art Knives by Del­lana for her func­tional works of art. KJ finds mak­ers who uti­lize their cul­ture, her­itage and back­ground in their de­signs to be in­spir­ing. “I al­most know who they are by look­ing at their work,” KJ says.

04 Medi­ums

Though her fa­vorite steels evolve with ex­pe­ri­ence, and she still wants to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent types, KJ has been lov­ing the high-tech stain­less steels for every­thing from EDC belt knives to chef’s knives, while also hav­ing a lean to­wards Da­m­as­cus. When it comes to han­dle ma­te­ri­als, she likes to keep it nat­u­ral and opts for burl woods, turquoise, stone, antler and bone. She also plans to start mak­ing her own han­dle ma­te­rial and in­cor­po­rat­ing per­sonal items from the client.

05 True Cus­tom

Though she has a com­pe­ti­tion le­gal throw­ing knife com­ing soon with a pro­duc­tion com­pany, all of KJ’S knives are cus­tom and she loves tak­ing cus­tomer re­quests. But keep watch­ing her line for more of her own de­signs and op­tions.

06 Or­der­ing

KJ does her busi­ness via In­sta­gram and Face­book. A web­site is on its way—but un­til then, con­tact her through so­cial me­dia, email her at six­gun­[email protected] or call 682-777-1193 to pur­chase or cus­tom or­der a knife. Her typ­i­cal wait­ing pe­riod is a speedy two to six weeks; now would be a good time to get in touch with her be­fore her books fill up. KI

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