This International Women’s Day we’re excited to share the story of two extraordinary Cockpit women, luthier Daisy Tempest and bladesmith Holly Loftus. They have collaborated to create a one-of-a-kind knife, with a blade made from guitar strings. The knife is now being raffled to raise money for a new ‘pay it forward’ bursary at Cockpit: The Grant-Turnstone Award, named after their respective female mentors.
Guitar-maker Daisy Tempest and Knife-maker Holly Loftus both joined Cockpit on the Newby Trust Award. Now extremely successful in their own fields, the pair have come together to raise funds for a new funded space at Cockpit, which will see a future craftsperson benefit from the same opportunity they have had (including access to a free studio space in London and in-house business training and coaching).
“The opportunity we received was massive, it meant that I could completely focus on my business, which is literally twice what it would be without winning that award. And I want to pay it forward, because it was so significant for me.” Daisy Tempest
As two women in male-dominated fields, the pair decided to name the new award after each of their female mentors, both of whom had a significant influence on their early careers. Holly’s first blacksmithing teacher, Juliet Grant of SRUC, and Daisy’s mentor and the only other self-employed female luthier in the UK, Rosie Heindrych of Turnstone, together inspire The Grant-Turnstone Award.
In the words of Cockpit CEO Annie Warburton:
“I can’t think of two more inspiring women than Daisy Tempest and Holly Loftus. Both are consummate makers at the top of their games, not to mention astute entrepreneurs. They each deftly balance the challenges of running a creative business with grace and skill. And now they’ve taken it a step further.
I love everything about this project. The pair’s curiosity and inventiveness: Is it really possible to forge a knife from guitar strings? The extraordinary skill that has gone into the making of this one-off knife. The respect Daisy and Holly have for their extraordinary female mentors. And of course their huge generosity of spirit and vision to raise funds to give future makers the same opportunities that they’ve enjoyed at the start of their careers. Brava both!”
The ‘damascus’ blade features pattern-welded steel blade made from nickel guitar strings welded under the weight of three adult elephants. The handle is made by guitar-maker Daisy using Koa wood from the Acacia tree, favoured by guitarists for its resonant sound. She has also included a detail of laminated ebony and maple, which is an intricate nod to ‘perfling’ in guitar-making.
Tempest guitars take many months to make, cost up to £28,000 and are incredibly sought-after, with a current waiting list of seven years.
Loftus knives are equally in demand, with limited batches selling out in as little as six minutes. The blades are typically forged by hand, but for this project they enlisted specialist equipment at Holly’s old workplace, Blenheim Forge. Using the heat of the forge (1200°c) and the pressure of the hammer (20 tonnes/the weight of three adult elephants) they successfully created their guitar string damascus steel. The temperature had to be just right, so the metals would fuse together but not melt, in which case the visible lines of the guitar strings would be lost. In the finished blade you can clearly recognise the guitar strings, like lines in a thousand-year-old fossil.
UPDATE: The raffle closed on Wednesday 15 March 2023, having raised an incredible £10,000! This will fund the new Grant-Turnstone Award at Cockpit. Join our mailing list to be kept updated about applications for this exciting new award.
You can see how they made this incredible knife on YouTube here.