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The Queue: Everett Noel

The Queue: Everett Noel

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.

The Queue: Everett Noel

Get to know the people featured in the pages of our magazine as they share what's inspiring them right now.
Everett Noel, 2023. Photo by Kian Berreman.

Everett Noel, 2023. Photo by Kian Berreman.

Everett Noel wants a totally handcrafted life.
Creative energy radiates off Everett Noel. Only 25, the Northern California–based knife maker has been showing his work at West Coast Craft and other craft shows for over a decade, having learned the trade from YouTube and a local blacksmith. He crafts stunningly sophisticated blades, equally useful and beautiful, from hardwoods collected from his land near the small city of Grass Valley. “I want my knives to be like sculptures that hang on the wall and transform into tools when you take them down and use them,” he says. Taking inspiration from distinctly Californian artists such as Jay Nelson and JB Blunk, Noel aims to live a fully handcrafted life, incorporating handmade tools, clothing, furniture, and art into everything he does. Deborah Bishop visited his bucolic Northern California cabin and studio in “Forging a Path” in the Summer 2024 issue of American Craft. Join us for the American Craft Forum on July 18 to hear Everett Noel in conversation with fellow knife makers Vu Nguyen and Bob Cramer and chef Yia Vang.

everettnoelknives.com | @everettnoelknives

Noel’s 2024 knife Night Sky Ulu is made of redwood from the estate of JB Blunk, carbon steel, and brass. Photo by Kian Berreman.

Noel’s 2024 knife Night Sky Ulu is made of redwood from the estate of JB Blunk, carbon steel, and brass. Photo by Kian Berreman.

How do you describe your work or practice in 50 words or less?
I mainly make kitchen knives. I source the wood from fallen trees I find, and sculpt the blades from solid steel. I think of my whole life as part of the process—cooking, time with family, seeing art, surfing—and the knives become infused with all of it.
 
What are your favorite tools for working with metal and wood, and why?
I love my 2-by-72-inch belt sander. I have been using one almost every day for 10 years. I use it for both metal and wood, and I have developed muscle memory that makes using it feel natural. I also like using a metal file for detail work on wood handles.
 
Do you collect handmade tools yourself? If so, which are your favorites that you own?
When I go to craft shows I always trade a knife for something, so I’ve been collecting home goods, such as ceramic mugs by Zoe Dering, glass salad bowls by Gary Bodker, and handmade brooms by Hannah B. Quinn. Eventually I hope everything I own is handmade!

You’ve done a collaboration with Quince in San Francisco, making steak knives for their dining room and a chef’s knife based on Chef Michael Tusk’s personal favorite knife. What other kinds of collaborations would you like to do?
So, so many. I’m working on a film with my good friend Chris Powers. We’re writing the story together, and we’re going to make all the props and do an exhibition at the screening. I’m also going to make a mandolin slicer with my brother Bay.

What are you working on right now?
I’m just finishing up a project and I’m looking forward to some open time for the first time in years. I’m working with my mentor Nancy Shanteau to reconstruct my cosmology and life philosophy. I’m also working on sculpture and an album, and I’m designing for my next exhibition.
 
Which craft artists, exhibitions, or projects (from anywhere) do you think the world should know about, and why?
Everything at Blunk Space—Mariah does such a good job curating, it’s all so good. I just saw an exhibition outside in the redwoods at Salmon Creek Farm and it was the most beautiful thing. I would definitely recommend going if they do that again.

Noel works in this 72-square-foot former chicken coop near his rural cabin. Photo by Everett Noel.

Noel works in this 72-square-foot former chicken coop near his rural cabin. Photo by Everett Noel.

Noel grinds a knife in his studio. Photo by Kian Berreman.

Noel grinds a knife in his studio. Photo by Kian Berreman.

These miniature knives showcase a variety of hardwoods. Photo by Everett Noel.

These miniature knives showcase a variety of hardwoods. Photo by Everett Noel.

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