Editor's note: To kick off the new year, we're introducing the 50 / Fifty project. Each week, we will highlight one interesting and inspiring artisan from each state in the union. At the close of 2014, we look forward to producing a guide to the most outstanding handmade products — both big and small, rational and extravagant — available in the country.
Maker: Santa Fe Stoneworks
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Wares: Knives (utility, lockback, tuxedo, liner locks, table)
This family run business specializes in custom handmade knives, designed with precious gemstones (like dinosaur bone and turquoise), shells and precise wood marquetry. Founded in 1978 by Bill Wirtel (whose grandfather was a stone cutter) and John Iverson, Santa Fe Stoneworks' mission is to "coax the soul out of stone, wood and steel."
The poetic approach to their craft results in vibrant knives, of which no two are the same, thanks to master inlay artist Steve Rosenblum. The knives vary in shape, size and function, but none are exorbitantly priced. Santa Fe Stoneworks hopes that someone who loves both art and function might pick up a knife, put it in his or her pocket and, eventually, pass it on within their family as a precious heirloom.
Visitors are welcome to pop into their gallery and production studio in Santa Fe, housed in a century-old adobe ranch house lined with robin's egg blue windows and door frames to keep evil spirits at bay.