Toby Cowern has embraced being a tool using primate from an early age. Working and using knives from before his parents even realized, his passion not only as a professional outdoorsman, but also as a soldier, fire fighter, medic and self defence instructor have forced him to use a wide variety of edged tools in different environments and for different purposes. While firmly subscribed to the belief 'The best knife is the one you have', Toby has been fascinated with the idea of what tools are produced when you melt multiple experts ideas together, and so the SoMiCo project was born. When not working or playing with knives Toby can be found setting fire to various things.
Get 3 people together who use knives for different reasons. People with different personalities and with likes and dislikes based on experience. People who are adaptive enough to be able to use anything at hand to do what they need ... but who also appreciate good design and functionality. Why not get them together to design something smart, practical, and beautiful. Can it be done? You be the judge.
Rory Miller is a lifetime martial artists, a veteran corrections officer and former contract advisor for the Iraqi Corrections Service. He is the author of "Meditations on Violence" "Facing Violence" and a number of other books and videos. Rory writes, "As a weapon I've confiscated shanks ranging from sharpened tooth brushes to glass shards with cloth wrapped around for a handle to a pair of glasses with the ear piece sharpened like a scalpel. I've known people to be stabbed with pencils, nails and screwdrivers and have had people try to stab me with broken pieces of a mirror, steak knife with a shitty plastic handle, scissors and even the occasional real knife. But that's not what shaped my attitude about knives. I was raised in ranch country, and a knife is an indispensable tool. It's something you use almost every day. The gun may have replaced the bow and the tractor replaced the horse-drawn plow, but the knife has endured since people figured out how to chip obsidian.
Maija Soderholm was a long time private student of the late Filipino sword master Sonny Umpad, and an official inheritor of his system. He taught that every weapon you put in your hand had a personality, and that by merely holding in your hand should tell you it's function - how it should move, and what it was meant for. His own designs and modifications truly had a life of their own. They were things of beauty and truly 'sung' in the hand.
In her other life working in construction and as a scenic artist, she has spent the better part of the last 30 years using tools, and has developed a deep distaste for poor design and a loathing of mediocrity . "Of course I am skilled enough to paint a straight line with a cheap brush, but how much more satisfying to do it with one designed by someone who knew what it was for".
Her book "The Liar, the Cheat ,and the Thief - Deception and the Art of Swordplay" is available in both ebook and hardcopy. She also has a degree in Structural Engineering.
"Form follows function - that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be one, joined in spiritual union"
Frank Lloyd Wright
Will Capron is a knifemaker and lifelong student of craftsmanship with a passion for creating useful art. He believes that tools can and should be beautiful, but that their design must always be rooted in performance. Perhaps it was a natural consequence of this mindset that attracted him to Rory Miller's methodology for understanding human conflict and violence. One thing led to another, and now as the knifemaker for Somico knives he strives to combine his technical skill with the design insights of subject matter experts to create functional and beautiful tools for those who understand and use them. Aside from knifemaking and learning from teachers like Soderholm, Miller, and Cowern, Will's interests include the study of philosophy, linguistics, and functional fitness.