Joan's Knife

Repaired by Dale Hardiman

The story goes, “if you give a knife as a gift on a wedding day, you will sever the relationship”. This knife was given to Joan on her wedding day. Her relationship has since broken down. When Joan accidently melted the handle of the knife on a hotplate, she wept. It was illogical. It was just a thing, and many people have nothing. But she couldn’t help but grieve for its symbolism – its power, its superstitious quality, its utility and all the happy family meals it had made. Knives have played a very present role in Joan’s life and throughout her interview she recounted happy and disturbing memories all in some way connect to the knife.

Dale was profoundly moved by Joan’s interview. Her stories of the knife’s history, of weddings, divorce, attempted suicides and even a murder, made him understand the significance that objects can have in our lives. Dale restored the quality of ‘knife-ness’ to the object and repaired it to Joan’s indications and her concerns for sustainability. She wanted it shorter, so he made it shorter, using the service of a local knife maker. The knife needed a new handle, so he made a new handle, using local clay, hand-dug from the earth and manually processed by a friend. Dale felt this local approach would please Joan, as would the natural, textural quality of the knife’s new grip.

Design Repairer: Dale Hardiman

Melbourne based Dale is the co-founder of furniture and object brand Dowel Jones, represents the commission platform 1-OK CLUB and design collective LAB DE STU. Dale’s practice simultaneously focuses on items of mass-production for Dowel Jones, and singular works under his own name that focus on more conceptual ideas. Hardiman’s theoretical enquiry into design explores the localisation of the production of objects and is manifested in his chosen materials and overall practice. Operating from a studio in a rubber factory in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne, Dale has won numerous artistic and design awards and regularly exhibits nationally and internationally.

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Joan’s Knife. Repaired by Dale Hardiman. Photos by Lee Grant. Image copyright Hotel Hotel.